Let me first say that practicing yoga as a yoga teacher is different in some aspects than when I was only a student. I imagine this is what it’s like for a dentist to go get their teeth cleaned by another dentist. Sometimes you have to get out of your own head about what the process should be like and be a recipient to the experience.
I went to a couple classes this past week because I needed my teachers to guide me, to hold space for me and to allow me to experience my practice again. I really didn’t want to go to any classes; I’d rather continue curling up into a ball and feeling every sad emotion. But I put on my stretchy pants and went anyway.
Liz’s restorative class was the first one I tackled. My energy levels have been really low after running off of pure will and the busyness of family overload. If I’ve learned nothing from yoga, it’s to listen to my body and respect my limits. I needed a class where the lights would be low in case I ended up in a puddle of my own tears and also where I could be supported by squishy bolsters. It was perfect.
By week’s end, I needed to shake off my sad funk. In typical Erinn fashion, she literally had us shaking every limb while wagging our tongues. She said something that stuck with me. “Our mat is where we come to work out our s***.”
It’s so true. I’ve been coming to my mat for the last almost 9 years to work out whatever issues or problems or stressors have been plaguing my life. I face them directly through the poses and through breath. My fears, my anxiety, my feelings of loss and being lost, my uncertainty, my anger toward the impermanence of life… It’s all there.
I was a sweaty mess by the end of class. I swallowed my yoga down like medicine. I let my feelings reside in my body, but I released the negative ones with every exhale. I treated yoga as my therapy… because it is. The practice has the power to heal and to open if we allow it to do so. I used my practice in class and at home to crack my heart wide open so I could be vulnerable and tender with my own needs. It’s not easy. But it’s necessary.