Sunday, January 3, 2016

When terror strikes

Last year for our anniversary my husband presented me with two, poignant, heartfelt gifts in hopes I would reconnect with some lost pieces of me: the first, a chakra pendant of a woman in lotus position and the second, a leather bound journal with an embossed sugar skull on the cover. I loved both of them instantly and fell deeper in love, with him and with them, when he said, "when you practice and write regularly, you're a happier person." It's taken me a few months to act on each of those behaviors, but now that I have -- he couldn't be more correct.

The relationship with my yoga mat is much like that of an old, true friend. We've gone our own directions busy with other things, but when we get back together, it's like we never separated. I've rolled out my mat each day since the tail end of December and while my practice may not be what it once was in terms of asana completion, it is still healing, restorative, and confidence building. I can almost "hear" my body whispering "thank you" as I move between postures with a deep ujjayi breath and everything settles into a familiar rhythm. Even the preparation of my yoga space was meditative. I practice on our porch which is filled with visions of growth and relationship. My husband has a thriving herb and tomato garden in pots along the edge of the balcony and my yoga altar is a reminder of where we have been as a couple and where we will go so the day I took time to delicately wash each statue and Milagros, to wipe down all the surfaces and sweep the floor also felt like I was clearing the cobwebs from my soul inviting spirit into a warm, comfortable dwelling place.

An earlier time when there was no fear
The space has been cleared, the intentions are clear and the judgment has been set aside...until my practice brings me to Urdhva Dhanurasana, back bending. I remember first growing into this posture. My teacher at the time, Shanna, firmly encouraged me and wouldn't let me cheat myself out of its benefits. Later in my practice, she used me as an example of someone "with a strong back bend" to demonstrate the posture to one of her teaching students and I remember those words dearly. I've even tried to call them to mind these past few weeks -- "she's very good in this posture, she has a strong back bend..." but nothing negates the true fear I feel when attempting this posture now.

Fear, no, it feels more like terror. It's not a fear that I will fail, or that I will hurt myself or not be able to complete the pose, it's a real welling of terror from below my heart that quickens my breath and nearly pushes the emotions out of my eyes. My husband coached me through the posture once last week and I moved through the series, but the fear was still there. The next day, when he wasn't there -- I just couldn't push up.

I'm allowing myself to sit with this fear, rather than run away from it or bury it in a negative coping strategy as the Babs of my past would have, until my mind and body are ready to move through the posture.

Urdhva Dhanurasana is a heart opener - among other benefits - and requires a bit of vulnerability and is also meant to counteract anxiety. "Back bends thrust your full life force up through the spine and burn through blockages along the way. When one of these blockages gets triggered it really does not matter whether you are doing a deep back bend  or a beginner back bend because the emotional state that gets triggered is really of paramount importance." ( So for now, I will continue to focus on consistency of things that make me a happier person and remember all is coming. 

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