Some months ago I experienced a major upheaval. It was a personal thing but it was major – life-changing – and not in a good way. It was one of those major ‘life-altering’ life events – the moments where Life plucked me out from straight un-forked road I was trundling on and unceremoniously tossed me on some unfamiliar dusty road and grunted, “Off you go, Luvena!”
Anyway, as is my wont, I straightened myself, looked around, got my bearings in order, looked to the North Star for guidance and continued the slow and heavy walk – the trundle.
What’s this got to do with yoga?
For me, yoga is not just my time on the mat, it is a way of life and a blueprint for living. It guides my thoughts – helping me make peace with the crappy ones and soothing my mind when better sense prevails. There’s no line between my asana practice and my thoughts….
But here’s what happened….
I stopped moving.
I stopped my asana practice.
No matter what I did I couldn’t go to asana.
I felt stuck.
I would go to bed every night with a sense of what I would do the next day, how I would ‘show up’ on the mat and how I would practice my chosen asanas for an hour…. and then I would wake up every morning, send the kids to school, teach some classes, deliver some lectures, meet my friends, do the mom-thing, do the dog-mom thing, do do do…. and find myself in bed at the end of the day beating myself silly about how I had not shown up on the mat – not shown up for myself…
And not have moved.
I kept thinking that my body needed movement. And then I kept counter-thinking that my body needed the rest. Ugh! It was confusing and it was petrifying – this constant thinking – of these confusing thoughts.
Wait a minute….
Thoughts… thoughts…. thoughts..? Wasn’t that what all of us yogis were on the path to master? These thoughts – these vrittis, the ripples of our mind?
And here I was with this overload of thoughts – of panic, fear, doubt, self-doubt, survival…. thoughts that were an aftermath of definite trauma – trying to force myself to move and pitifully failing…. and beating myself up mentally for failing.. more thoughts!
Or was I failing after all? Because as much as my ‘should’ voice was nagging me to move, my body and my ‘wait-a-minute‘ voice was surely but strongly heavying itself down to pause, to still and just stay put. I was, for lack of a better word, rebelling against my choice to move and instead succumbing to my subconscious, wise need to still.
As a philosophy, yoga isn’t as much of what we want for ourselves but more of what happens to match what we need. And even then, there is no right answer to surely know what we need v/s what we want and desire especially in the aftermath of trauma. I mean, think about it, we have a cold or the flu and as we recover, we rest it out. But after trauma, emotional upheaval and mental turbulence, we plough on full-steam without taking a moment to catch our breath, or look at our wounds and bruises. We don’t stop long enough to even see if we need any mental bandages or antiseptic!
Well, I didn’t…. until I paused to hear what this mental trundling was all about. And then I heard.
I just needed my savasana after all – because some days savasana is all that is available to us – and all that we truly need.
Guess what happened after that?
By simply allowing myself my time to pause and still and savasana, I started moving. The mental demand to a 90 minute personal practice was met with the rebellion to shut down, so I started taking a few minutes of ‘forward fold immersions‘ as I started calling them. I would get off my laptop frequently (like I did just now 🙂 ) and walk a bit around the house with deep belly breaths and neck rolls and hip rolls and whatever it is that seemed like a simple and easy response to my body’s need.
I started moving.
I slowly moved from being stuck to being yoga.
I assumed I had fallen back 5 steps, but actually I had just turned around and walked forward 10! I had learnt 15 new things about myself and I had thrown light on the pain and hurt of the trauma and confusion. I had dislodged myself from my rut.
That stuck-ness had saved me – and moved me deeper into my asana – my yoga – even if it was savasana…. because that is what I needed.