Going to the Emotional Edge on a Mat

2013-05-28 23.49.36“Love me some teary yoga.”

This is a friend’s response to my sharing on a recent evening that I was having a teary few hours and I was placing the blame (credit?) on the private yoga session I had done the day before.

It was a reminder that he had had (and continues to have) that experience and it soothed me that I wasn’t alone in that kind of response.

First, me and yoga, the very short history. In the fall of 2011, at age 49, I began taking weekly classes. I liked it. After only a few months I had to stop because I had a knee injury (not from the yoga as far as I know) and subsequent surgery. A cascade of physical issues … blink, blink … nearly two years go by sans yoga.

About a month ago a friend who teaches yoga in my town invited me to a private restorative yoga session she’d been given. It was relaxing and refreshing, an utter luxury. The same friend then offered me a private session with her, partly to help me ease back in to a practice. She knew and empathized with my fear of a wrong twist or turn.

I took her up on it this week. We were in her apartment, a lovely space, and got to it. Here’s pretty much how it went (what we did and then in italics what was going through my mind):

We set an intention and send love to someone as part of that intention.

OK, this is good. Relaxing. Meaningful.

Movement begins.

Ahhhh, I can do this. I’ve got this.

I cannot get from this pose to that pose quite that way. I need about three more steps to get me there.

Why are there tears welling up in my eyes?

I get to the pose and have a small victory within that pose.

OK, tears. Go. See ya later.

I am facing left when I’m supposed to be facing right. We both smile and I correct.

Easy fix. You’ve got this.

Poses continue. I am feeling weary and stretched.

More tears? Let yourself feel them. Don’t suppress.

I tell my instructor that I feel like I may cry and she tells me to go with it and cry as many times as I want. I smile.

Did just sharing that with her make the tears go away?

She moves us into the next phase of poses. I am focused and some sort of resolve has surfaced. I am displaying extraordinary balance and stamina in this pose.

Happy, happy, happy.

I shake my head vigorously on a pose that engages my knee in a way that brings my fear to the surface.

Slow. Go slow. I’ll be damned if you’re quitting, Nancy. You can either do the pose or you can’t. Try it. Work up to it.

I try and the instructor sees the significance, senses it. She’s working at my pace.

Come on, you can get past your frustration. Patience.

I hold a pose and it’s like every nerve in my body is tingling on the surface of my skin.

Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex …whoa … distracting.

I’m feeling weary and stretched again, but like I’ve come out on the other side of something.

Why in the world does this seemingly simple bunch of exercises push my every button?

We reach the reward of shavasana and I get in position to welcome the stillness.

Stop thinking. Focus on your breath. You’ve got this.

I do. It’s a sweet finish. My instructor gives me some iced ginger tea and it is perfectly refreshing.

As we walk a few blocks together later, I tell her that I had forgotten how every single time there is a sort of piercing afterglow because in the span of an hour I have felt vulnerable, doubtful, resistant, unnerved, victorious, and stretched. I always feel sexual and supremely alive when I walk out of yoga.

And so here’s the thing about that. Twenty four hours later I was feeling the effects more intensely. All of it points to vulnerability. All of it. No wonder the tears finally came. No wonder. The darned session was like a microcosm of everything I’m feeling in my ‘bigger’ life these days. Swarming emotions, compartmentalization, unexpected juiciness, serious questioning. Like I’m pushing myself to the edge.

Right here I’m going to take a bow for letting myself feel it all instead of suppressing, anesthetizing, avoiding. And for looking at my calendar and plotting my next yoga class so I can feel it all again.

Here we go. Turns out I love me some teary yoga, too.

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