I find it funny that I DO very little yoga but have been drawn to it for years. I buy yoga books & vids and one of my favorites is a book on yoga anatomy. I just received my order for a yoga bolster, a strap & two blocks. I don’t even know what these things do!
In the same way, I love self help books, different diets, gardening, new software, cooking, bread baking, I am fascinated with digging deeper. It’s not so much about mastering a skill as it’s just a feeling of getting lost and losing time. I think they call it a hobby or a passion.
I could have chosen a million different activities on vacation but I wanted to do yoga. I spent hours on the internet looking at different studios and reading descriptions. Most places I wasn’t even qualified for a beginner class, so I was also considering a private lesson. Like I said previously, just getting to the floor took work. And getting off the floor, in a room full of pretty people, wasn’t what I was after. ( I learned down dog is a good way to get off the floor & yep, it works!)
The studio I chose, offered yoga & daycare, yoga for teenage girls, yoga for kids with autism, family yoga, sunrise on the lake yoga and most wonderfully for me – Recovery Yoga. Yoga & a 12 Step meeting in one. People who had never done yoga were especially welcome! The teacher was also in recovery. And yoga had played a role in her recovery journey. Yep, that was my class!
A couple key points stood out for me in class. This was not about exercise or practicing certain poses or perfectly choreographed routines. It was about releasing the emotions, the issues in our tissues, that stay stuck. It was about creating internal space to allow new, good, sober life choices to enter. It was about mudras, touching, and mantras, speaking, that create new neural pathways in the body & brain. Healing. Releasing, Healing.
During one of the exercises, the teacher said to look at her. I realized, that I mostly do yoga with my eyes closed because I do it alone at home and I am concentrating. (It was also a self protection. I didn’t want to look at the teacher or the other girl because I didn’t want to compare myself.) When I am holding a stretch, in my mind, with my eyes closed, I picture the muscles that are working or relaxed. The classroom environment added scent & sound which definately enhanced that experience. I tried to imagine what issues were deep in my tissues and visualized them releasing and creating space.
Since I was only going to be in town for one class, she gave me some take home tools. My favorite was learning to do some of the poses against the wall! Wow! Did that feel good! One pose that I can’t do on the floor, a pigeon, was successful against the wall. At home when, I listen to the vids, the instructors are like, doesn’t that feel good! I’m like grunting and grasping and the pose cuts off my breathing. The wall poses were super helpful. My chest stayed open so I could breathe.
We worked on some hip openers since that’s where I am the tightest. She talked again, like I have learned from sober bloggers, that the hips hold so much emotion. When she talked about step 4 & 5 in 12 steps, I can’t remember the words but its like, make a list of everything horrible and tell someone. I went right to – there’s NO WAY that will happen and had to uncross my legs. My hips felt like they were on fire. (This was my reaction, not what the steps are really about! And remember, all my preconceptions are from TV, not real life.)
We mantred, mudraed, meditated and began the final pose, it has a name but I call it sustained lying down. And a cool thing the teacher said, if you find a pose that gives you peace, you can use that. The girl in class did that and stayed at the wall because her back felt good in the pose she was doing. I went to my doubled mats and closed my eyes. I don’t remember specific words but when we were done I was crying. All the “stuff” just bubbled out my eyes. I felt a little embarrassed but I knew if I had achieved this feeling at home I would have been sobbing.
Then we all hugged. Ugh. I am not a hugger by nature. The teacher said we all need a good 3 second, heart touching heart, hug every day. I’m a grab & go girl at best. As any good teacher does, you push your students a little past their comfort zone. She gave me, I swear, a 12 second hug. As she was hugging me, total boob to boob contact, I looked over at the other girl in panic, then we all laughed because I started to pat the teachers back, like okay, we’re good, all done now. I counted a total of 15 hugs. Me & Wendy at coffee and now at class. 15 Hugs just in that morning. The evening before it had been a hug fest with my bro & the family. My sister in law starts about 10 yards away with open arms and waving here fingers to come closer. I do like her hugs. This is no family obligation hug. This is a heart to heart. So, hugging is definately something I can work on. (P.S. for those of us who have been hit and then hugged. Hugging is a really hard thing.) And it reminds me of, when you are an alcoholic, you count how much other people are drinking. I mean, who counts hugs?!? Maybe someone who has hug issues?
Yoga Recovery is my new love. The closest class is 3 hours away. The closest 12 step group is 30 minutes away but it has men in it. The closest yoga class is 20 minutes away but it is an exercise kind of yoga. So my goal for myself is to develop my own at home yoga recovery program. Maybe get enough info together, find an AA leader, start a women only, local AA group? Contact a yoga teacher who does healing yoga?
Tomorrow I start Home in Your Body by Jay Fields. Her book is a 28 day plan to build your own home yoga practice. The first day is to set your intention for what you want this practice to be. I finally feel I can now begin.
I know I want my yoga practice to be about recovery.