Dissolving in backbends

I sat for a while in my car after class, listening to the loud silence, in itself a sound. The noise of the street was muffled by the car windows and the silence was insistent. It was the kind that asks to be respected and so I just sat in there and watched the rain on my windshield.

There was a spell of classes where the tears were absent and I had more energy and then this spiral into sadness. Abhijata said something beautiful, “the weeds have gone, now the seeds have to go too“. The earlier breaking down was a raw, unidentified sort of pain while the more recent episodes have a clear trigger. Death in the family, seeing a family on the street, actions of a person which brought to surface old terrors. And my response now is what should probably have been the response then. Acknowledgement of the feeling. Back then, I couldn’t let myself feel any of it else I would not have been able to move forward. Compartmentalization can come back to bite you in painful ways as I am beginning to discover. It’s better to deal with feelings as they arise and set them free once and for all. I see the pattern spilling over to my work and personal life in not procrastinating over everyday things.

My teachers want me to open and raise the sternum and my body wants to sink as old feelings resurface. Instead of flight or fight, I want to hide. I think of the space behind the props at many moments in class but don’t do anything. This is not me and it is terrible being this wobbly person who leaks painful tears. Tears that begin in different locations in my body. I don’t recognize this mess I have become and want it to be behind me already but walking through stale fears and sadness has its own trajectory.

Backbending was always about light and exuberance for me but it’s been throwing up so much of buried stuff. My asanas are heavily propped and maybe that’s what is dislodging all the debris. It’s easier to do independently as the edge of the pose stops before it’s fullest expression. The hard wooden surfaces don’t let you hide behind the body’s fear. Yesterday was about acknowledging the terrors I had shut down in the past.

In retrospect, I see that a lot of what the teachers make me do, I never did before like dropping back into an urdhva dhanurasana. In an earlier avatar, I would have been excited but yesterday I didn’t even want to try and only the teacher’s strength and lightness allowed me to go where she sent me. At a different level unencumbered by emotions, I see progress but at an experiential level, I see only struggle.

Out of all the backbends I do, Vipareeta Dandasana on the bench and variations throw up the maximum. It’s also become a pose I can stay in for a while without too much physical discomfort. Most of the mess seems stuck in the space between my abdomen and chest.

Image courtesy: https://m.facebook.com/iyengaryogadelhi/?__tn__=C-R

I came back home after a long drive back and had a difficult time with the child and through our tears, we shared. She climbed into my lap like she used to as a small girl and we sat on the rocking chair, our tears and hearts in one warm embrace. Both of us in our private hells and each trying to protect delicate hearts. By sharing with her, maybe I let her see her mother as a person rather than just her mom. Listening to her, I heard a tiny heart that was struggling with great sorrow too. Maybe we do our children a disservice by not sharing our vulnerabilities and letting them know pain in inevitable but suffering need not be.

I am grateful for this extraordinary blessing of yoga and the strength and compassion of my teachers and all who assist. One of the visiting teachers who was helping me gave me a hug as she was leaving and it only struck me much later how inadequate I feel around any touch that is tender.

5 thoughts on “Dissolving in backbends

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