Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gateway

There was a time, about two years ago, where I routinely would break down in Savasana. I would turn into a puddle of sweat and tears on my mat. There was a lot going on in my life at the time, and the practice would remind me of what was good and whole in me. The tears would come, and I wouldn't fight them, and then after class, I would feel lighter, freer, more open. And then one day, the crying stopped. I thought I was done, finished, healed.

This past week, new openings and new release, and yes, lots of new tears have come.


One of my internal stories, since childhood, has been this: I am strong; I am independent. I do everything on my own; I don't need anyone. The flip side of that story is this: I am tired; I am alone. I do everything on my own; Nobody helps me.

I was the girl who taught herself how to ride a bike, how to swim, how to cook, how to speak Spanish, English.

I have gone through relationships in this way, carrying my story on my back like a precious relic. I have ruined friendships under the burden of this story. And it wasn't until this week that I recognized that even my yoga practice has been shaped under the influence of this story. Because I don't have a local ashtanga teacher, I am 'forced' to practice alone. I have taught myself the intermediate series, with the occasional help from my teachers when I visit them once or twice a year. I have figured it out bit by bit, the mechanics, the energetics. But the day in day out work has been done alone, with no help, no support from a community or a teacher. There are postures in the series that are near impossible to learn without a teacher physically helping you into and sometimes, out of them. This, of course, reinforces my story: on the one hand there is the pride of doing it on my own, and, on the other hand, there is the sadness and resentment of not having support.



Last week, my partner offered his support. He offered to stay home and work from home, so that I could call on him when I needed help. I took him up on his offer. And so, first, in Supta Vajrasana, and then Dwi Pada Sirsasana, and then Karandavasana: I taught him how to teach me, how to support me, how to assist me. We communicated. We stumbled. I was afraid he would drop me, break my hips, that I would fall. It was messy at first, and then by Friday, we had both figured it out. He supported me in handstand so I could slowly drop over into a back bend. He held my legs and helped me fold them into lotus, supported me while I lowered down and helped me back up. It was scary and lovely, and I felt incredibly loved.

The symbolism was not lost on me: placing the weight of my legs behind my head and trying to balance  on my sitting bones, I needed to tap into my core. I needed guidance to figure out how to carry this weight, and stay in a relative state of grace. The combination of deep hip flexibility and deep core strength, and recognizing that I needed help, was what broke my defenses. I had to be fully present, or else, I would break.

And did I mention the tears? This breaking of a strong pattern, this recognition of my story and my attachment to the story, and this letting go of the story was so intense, that for five days, I cried through the entire practice. It was comical: tears running up my nose in kapotasana, wiping my nose before putting my legs behind my head, you get the picture. Somehow, through the deep backbends and deep hip opening of the intermediate series, through the sudden realization of 'holy god, I want support, I need support, and if I open to it, I HAVE support', a whole lot of release was happening. I even started crying on Friday morning as I led my students through their finishing postures, because I saw my role in their lives, in that moment in time so clearly that it made my heart tighten a bit.

If they are open to it, I can be their support in that moment.

It's been an intense week. When I wasn't being physically supported in the postures by my beloved, he would retreat to the back of the practice room and play my favorite piece on his guitar; the sound would propel me out of my small self to something just beyond. I was reminded of how the body can be our gateway to emotional and spiritual growth. I was reminded of how strong our minds are, and how much stripping of the layers it takes, and how we are never truly done, never finished with the internal work. The release comes, and with it, the openings come: in the body, in the mind, in our whole beautiful, flawed, clinging selves. And then, in a little while, another opening awaits.