Yoga is a spiritual practice that teaches you to accept the present moment for what it is, non-judgmentally. It allows you to push your mind and body to new limits but accepting that they do have limits. It’s about learning about yourself, who you are without things, titles, people and just being present in the room, in that moment. I’m by no means a yogi. I practice 1-3 times a week and often feel so tight my muscles could snap but I wholeheartedly believe in everything that yoga teaches your mind and how it frees your body.
I used to get an overwhelming feeling when I practiced yoga. It’s sometimes so powerful that it forces me to hold back tears during the class. My body gets flooded with emotions that I didn’t even know I was feeling and my mind starts to go places that I didn’t know were in my consciousness. The physiological reaction my body has to yoga (tears) would suggest that I was feeling sad or unhappy, but I only ever felt this way about 5 minutes into the class and didn’t ever really think about it otherwise, I wasn’t sad or upset outside of this specific time. It was never really sadness that I was feeling as more often than not I felt calm, a sense of tranquility, and this sensation that I’ve made peace with everything that is going on in my life at that time. I have a sense of ‘everything is going to be alright’ albeit, with a sad undertone.
I didn’t really know what to make of it and to be entirely honest, I never even thought about it until it happened. One day I focused on it during class, I really checked in with myself to see exactly what I was feeling and why and I realized that those 45 minute classes were the only time(s) in the week where I stopped. I stopped thinking about work (eventually), I stopped thinking about money, my relationship, things I needed to get done and those which I had forgotten to do. It was the only time that I just stopped and let myself feel. I allowed myself to process hurt, disappointments and regrets that I so easily push to the back of my mind and continued with life as if they didn’t exist. It was the only time that I stopped and checked in with myself, turned inwards and actually took notice of how I was feeling. It’s the only time that I didn’t have access to my phone or contact with anyone from the outside world, I didn’t have to do anything except focus on me, right now.
From this, I realise now that the majority of my life is spent thinking, rushing, and doing. I had a constant need to be doing 101 things at once, talking to people, looking at something, listening to music, or thinking about what I need to do at work. I didn’t have the time or patience to just stop and be. I experienced hurt & distrust in my life and didn’t stop to process or feel those emotions like a human should do. Instead, I brushed everything to one side and got on with life. And I realized that this wasn’t a one off, this was a common theme in my life when it came to feeling or emotions.
Because of this incessant need to ignore any emotions, they always came flooding back during yoga when I had my walls down and freed my mind. All of the unprocessed emotions came flooding in at once, like an overbearing wave crashing over me. They were always there knocking on my door to let them in but it was so much easier to pretend like I didn’t hear them than to pay attention.
I was overlooking a basic human function, emotion, because I was so busy trying to make sure that I was okay that in the process, made myself quite the opposite.
There’s empirical evidence that emotional state of mind can significantly impact your physical health. I used to think emotions were weak. I desensitized myself to ensure that I was cold, indifferent and uninvested in anything that made me feel. I prided myself on being an Ice Queen, nothing or no one could hurt me. This seemed to work well for me because I never let anything close enough to have a noteworthy impact on my life. I lived with four walls guarding me.
And then I watched a TED talk from Brene Brown about the power of vulnerability & realized that this fixation on warding off any feelings was holding me back from so many things. I was a robot, going through each day with the inability to feel due to a fear of failure or rejection.
Since that talk I have made a conscious effort to welcome vulnerability. Being vulnerable means that you are living. It means that you’re putting yourself out there, trying new things and living life to it’s full capacity. This has led me to new jobs, people, ventures, a new country, career and opening myself to love. It led me to restore my health and ironically, to fall in love with yoga and learn to accept myself for who I am, regardless of failure. It’s taught me to put myself first and everyone else second. It’s shown me that no matter what happens, no matter how dire or scary things may seem, everything eventually works out.
It’s quite eye-opening to see how little I check in with myself and consciously process what my mind or body is telling me. I thought I was in-tune with my body but from recent breakdowns at yoga, that’s apparently not true. I don’t want to be this individual who simply rushes through life. I want to be able to stop, look around and smell the fresh air. I want to know when it’s okay to allow myself to forgive, to feel and to process. I want to live like a full human, not a half human, half robot because, that’s what the majority of the world has become. So that’s what I’m working on now. To be present in my life, to feel failure, regret and fear but also the positive emotions that life brings.
And hopefully that means no more lump-in-my-throat-tears-in-my-eyes-yoga classes from now on.