Tuesday, 8 March 2011
In which yoga is saving my life
I walk into the room and the heat already holds me in an embrace. Somehow the sounds, busyness, life, quick-walking-to-get-to-the-next-thing are shut off outside this door. The wall of heat and the spirit of the place don’t let it in.
Then, actual embraces from lovely, confident, I-want-to-be-like-you souls who love me as I am, who have always encouraged and challenged, never judged or fed my self-hatred, and it already feels like life, like it’s saving me, and I’m amazed again that it’s taken me a week to get back here, two weeks, that I’ve forgotten what this is or how I need it.
Then we start and it’s sacred, it’s call to worship, it’s call to silence and self. This is the hardest part, in child’s pose, where I come face to face with my very soul. I see she’s so wounded. My dear instructor is speaking healing and light and there’s nothing here to distract, there’s no way to outrun it, and so I am bowed down, forehead to mat, I become my breath, so close to the floor breathing life back into me, and I receive it.
You are in the right place, she says. Don’t try to ‘let go’ of your struggles, because then you’re categorizing success and failure. Just observe them. Just see them. I want to run, but I know I’m here. I’m here. Nowhere but here.
Then we’re standing and she invites us to form our hands into a cup and it can mean whatever you want it to and mine is always empty.
She says, You are needed. And I’m glad everyone’s eyes are closed because I’m fighting it now, the cry of recognition, the soul-pain I carried in here, the thing I needed saving from. The thing I can’t outrun on my own, the knowledge-is-not-belief struggle that I am worth something, that I have value apart from what I do or say or write. Worthy now. This room is the only place where I can see a glimmer of belief, where I can feel a seed of something forming. It’s the only place I think someday I might even accept it as true.
It’s the opening that always chokes me up, but then the rest is echoed in my body, and Lord knows she needs some healing, too. Or rather, how I respect her (or don’t) needs some attention. Everywhere else I’m critical, shaming, but here I’m strong, able, amazed. Yoga has taught me never to say “I could never do that.”
I could never get into a headstand.
I could never hold that pose.
I could never write a book.
I could never leave my kids and go to Africa for a month.
Then later, in savasana, ‘the hardest pose of all’ when you relax and quiet your mind, I meet Him there, in our spot, in my mind, and He tells me the same truths He’s been trying to say all my life. Only here, I listen. Maybe I don’t believe quite yet, but I listen and I am open. And that is all He is asking for now.
It’s cliche, but yoga is saving my life. It’s keeping my faith alive, it’s saving my mind, and it’s saving my body.
You’ll be amazed, she says. If you ask your body to do it, you might think I’m crazy to even suggest it, but just watch. Keep trying, and one day your body will suddenly get it without you forcing or willing or pushing or fighting and you’ll be amazed.
And so I am. Instead of shame and scorn, I feel proud. Impressed. Respect. Not for what I can accomplish, but the love I can offer, for the being that God saw fit to create, I am needed. I am necessary. I am loved, whole. Worthy.
When I walk out, my cup is full.
This post is part of a synchroblog over at Sarah Bessey’s place, where we’re talking about what’s saving our lives right now. (Using Sarah’s “In which” title style in honor of her, just this one time. 🙂