Grief and Yoga

I thought long and hard about posting here and finally decided to do so. As a novice student, there was scanty material from a beginner’s perspective available on the wide internet and so it felt like a good idea to document my learnings and failings for another like me.

I’ve consistently been a mess when in class and finally mustered the courage to speak to my teacher about my inability to hold back tears. That was a very big step as I find it incredibly hard to ask for help and generally tend to pretend to be invisible. It’s strange, this grief for no apparent reason. I don’t know where it springs from and why it happens only in class. Outside, I am strong, confident and play my roles as mother, friend, professional etc. with energy. In my everyday, things are slowly but steadily progressing but in class, I don’t recognize the person on the mat.

I find myself apologizing for the choking creature I become and cannot look anyone in the eye. My body is not my own as hands pull and push it. After each asana, I feel the fatigue of an old woman.

I’m mostly an incorrigible optimist and dealing with sadness like this in little bits is exhausting. Lately, I find it crops up even in other situations when I am alone, like brushing my teeth. I suppose it is the winding ways of sorrow. And that is different for everyone.

The teachers have been incredibly compassionate even as I cry through the poses. It comes in waves, sometimes strong and sometimes a little milder. My breath gets staggered and limbs shake. I wish it gone even as I understand that this has to run its own course. The intellect recognizes but the mind refuses to accept this state of the body.

I was hesitant to go to class yesterday because I was scared of another weepy session. But I went anyway and ended up in an even bigger puddle than I imagined. My heart never felt this raw and exposed. As my teacher swung me in Sirsasana, the sobs grew more intense. This sorrow comes in waves. My head tells me all the loss of the past is in the past but the body screams otherwise. Come to think of it, the tears are probably just the ones I repressed every time I put on a stoic face and stood strong. Now that I don’t need to protect myself, it is possible to let it out.

At the end of a couple of hours, I leave wondering if I have it in me to go back to class again. My body feels as though its been through a wringer and my heart feels raw, as though there’s exposed skin and new skin is just beginning to grow.

I’m deeply indebted to my teachers who have been so supportive and gentle. I didn’t think it was possible for me to be able to receive so much gentleness. Perhaps, some day I can smile and tell them in person about how much it meant to be taken care of.

The Bridge

There’s a yoga jamboree in the world outside and I find myself withdrawing inside. A hesitant practice once again, mostly setubandh sarvangasana as my little everyday. Propped. Sometimes on a single bolster, sometimes using two bolsters and bricks to recuperate and reenergise. It helps ground me even as I push through seemingly unending tasks.

I missed class this week as I was travelling on work. I suppose I was also a little relieved after the last class. The previous session, I hid behind in the prop section after rushing through my sequence. It’s strange how sadness overcomes me in the hall. Only there. Outside, I’m marching forward and getting things done, keeping myself immersed in new work projects but at the institute, there is nothing to keep me from experiencing the moment.

All that I experience is a constricted throat, just a heavy sadness that threatens to spill out of my eyes. So I hide. Behind racks of blankets, shrinking myself into the wall. Therapy class is designed to treat ailments and discomforts of the body. Although I know it ultimately works on the mind even as the poses address specific areas in the body, I wonder what someone would say if one asked for a therapy class for the mind.

It’s international Yoga Day today and I find myself lost in the way this subject is evolving. It’s an industry today complete with AI driven prompts on screens. What will yoga look like in the next century? It reminds me of a talk given at the centennial celebrations that explored taking Iyengar yoga into the next millennium.

Eventually, I suppose it will boil down to us finding our own inner teacher.