This afternoon I took a yoga class at one of the places I’ve taught. It was a tricky one for me. I wanted to attend to see how other instructors there teach (especially this particular person, as I’ve taken some of the time slots and locations she was previously in), to support her as a new friend and peer, and to get myself moving. Recently I’ve been dogged with more injuries, this time of my lower back and SI joint. I also knew this class was an opportunity for me to practice what I preach–in other words, to listen to my body and modify or not do what didn’t feel right to me in that moment. Some folks in the room recognized me as an instructor, which made me feel both more self conscious (at least at the start) and more intent on honoring my body’s wisdom so I could “model the way”.
Once the class began, I found that I was really able to get inside myself, to remain on MY mat and connect with my breath. I was able to listen to my body, and I modified or flat out did not do what was led because it started to tug on sensitive areas. As I laid in the start of savasana, I was feeling content (and OK, somewhat proud of myself too).
But then she started saying some things I do at the end of my classes: essentially to find something you’d like to let go of, and release it into the Universe. I was feeling relaxed and content, letting my mind go to see what it might come up with to release, and then all of a sudden she said something about “being who you are”. My eyes filled with tears, and I was transported back to being a tween sitting on a sofa with a book. I could hear my dad’s harsh words: “get off the couch, get outside and get to work you lazy bitch. Just like your mother….” His words trailed off but in my mind he stood there, right in front of me as I looked up, calmly (in reverie anyhow). And then I felt my body get hot. Not tense, the calm remained. I got angry. I felt RAGE. In SAVASANA. At the end of a nice yoga class.
Knowing this happens, I allowed myself to BRFWA (Breathe Relax Feel Watch Allow). In my daydream I started screaming back: “let me be who I am! let me figure out who I want to be and what I want to do already!!” He was frozen in time, I was screaming, raging at him. Yet, I was calm and centered lying on my yoga mat, over 30 years later. The tears didn’t get worse, but I found myself wanting to stay in that past remembrance longer than the savasana lasted. I wanted to confront him, calmly. I wanted to feel the anger at not being allowed to figure out who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do when I was at an age where that was important. I wanted to feel the sadness at the idea that it was really too late. That my ways of being (which are very protective, striving and not confident–even in my yoga practice and in my yoga teaching) are too ingrained at this point to change all that much, despite all my efforts.
Even so when we sat up, I was grateful. I felt like I had in fact released some pent up emotion. Some emotion which may in all earnestness, be part of my lifelong hip issues. And then I chatted with my friend and had a chocolate chip cookie on the way out.