grief + asana: the yoga of opening the soul

Yesterday I cried quietly for the entire duration of a yoga class.  It wasn't my intention at all to "release" anything during practice, in fact when I bopped into the studio, I thought I was feeling quite chipper. Look at me, I'm doing FINE. Everything is A-OK. The real question is how are you? (deflect, deflect, deflect)

Class began. I took my first breath. My teacher said "gather yourself" and as I exhaled deeply from my gathered inhale, I felt the emotion rise up from deep within my body and the raging river of tears swelled up and tumbled to the mat. A river of silent tears.

I tried to stop it. The harder I tried, the more the river flowed. My teacher said "take the deepest breath you can find" and my focus was deeply on finding that breath. As I exhaled, my body shook with grief and anger and disappointment and sorrow. I inhaled with all my might, trying to stay grounded on my mat, grounded in my present truth. This truth wasn't pretty or fun. It wasn't the perfect picture of light and dandy that I try so hard to show you. This truth hurt me. Deeply.

I flowed through the class, slowly. Each asana an expression of my real feelings. Each asana starting from the foundation of my body and ending with they grief and longing in my soul. Every ounce of my being wanted to flee from the room and out the studio door into a place where the pain couldn't catch me.  I've become so very good at this particular coping mechanism. Catch me if you can. You don't even notice when you don't see me for a while.

I hide the truth from you.

See, this week I lost a family member.  I knew I was grieving.  I would love to say that is where the emotion originated.  That would make sense.  You would say "oh, I understand your tears honey…you lost someone you love."

This event, however, was only the trigger…the unscrewed cap to the bottle of grief I hold deep in my soul.

I cried from a place that while within me is still a bit of a mystery.  A place of the deepest honesty and deepest shame.  The place that I believe if you saw, you wouldn't love me.  You would disapprove hate ignore laugh shame me.

I cried from a place that I know is the "real" me…the essential self my teachers talk about. The place I teach from.  This place is trying hard to be seen.  It's trying hard to be heard. It's trying hard to come out of the dark shadows of shame and into the light of my being.

Through the ancient practice I have loved deeply for over 20 years, I finally began to release the shame.  I stayed in the studio.  I openly let go.  I let you see me.

My soul is opening.  The truth was always within me, buried beneath control and fear. Lying in savasana, I finally asked for help. I asked the universe to help me be open and honest and to let the love flow the way it is meant to.  I surrender.

My greatest hope now is that I can stay in this place, and deeply honor it when I see it in you. I will see you.  Will you see me?