by Kate Saal
It’s not unusual for someone to come up after class and say, “Is it normal to feel like you’re, “losing it” in class?”
Other variations of this are:
- I didn’t know yoga would affect my emotions.
- Why did I wait so long to do this?
- I feel sooooo good after I practice.
- My life outside of the studio has completely changed, as a result of yoga.
The question asks what is a nice physical practice like this doing in a place like inside of me.
(The answer to “losing it” is an emphatic yes. What exactly we’re losing is a conversation for another time.)
Think of your own experience. Maybe initially you heard of yoga and equated it with the physical practice. (Also called “asana”.) In our culture physical movements get lumped together. Thus, whether we are running, swimming, cycling—or all three—we tend to have the same approach; run for so many minutes, swim for so many laps and cycle for so many miles. We “go hard” to “break a sweat” and we think of sweating and “pushing ourselves” as a positive ideal. “No pain no gain”. We want to get better and end up competing—either with another person or simply ourselves, going for our “personal best”.
And then we find yoga and bring our mantra: Harder. Faster. Longer.
(Sounds like an effective concrete but maybe not a way to find peace.)
And this approach seemingly works for a while until we start to feel.
What is going on? I thought this was a way to stretch and tone and now all of this “stuff” is coming up.
Yoga is not about the physical.
This is a life affirming, life changing, practice of awareness—and acceptance.
We use our physical body to grow our awareness. Put another way, yoga begins the moment you begin to pay attention. Pay attention to something, anything.
This is not an ethereal, meta-physical concept.
The next time you practice pay attention to your right leg in Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2). Can you feel it engage and strengthen to support you? Can you feel it relax as you grow steady in the posture? As it begins to fatigue can you feel it shake?
Now take it inside. What is your reaction to your leg shaking? Feel the answer. What are you doing? Often we begin to distract ourselves with something else. Bring it back. Stay with your leg. A plethora of emotions begin to surface. Anger. Why are we here for so long? What is with this music? Frustration. Enough already. Fear. I am not going to be able to hold this.
What does feeling your leg have to do with living in a fulfilling, meaningful way? The answer is if you can feel your leg you can feel. If you can feel, you can feel love. If you can feel love you can:
- Be vulnerable
- Express your truth