“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.” – Kripalvanandji
As part of my
whine post about my journey to a healthy back, I mentioned starting to practice yoga. I was fortunate enough to have been gifted a 30-day unlimited trial to a local yoga studio (thanks Mom and Dad!), which I used starting on January 3rd. I sampled as many different classes as I could squeeze into my schedule, in order to take full advantage of this gift.
My mind has always been a very busy and anxious one, and my body has, unfortunately, become an increasingly broken one. Mostly just through wear and tear, but old injuries and surgeries have been making their presence known in the past couple of years as well.
Starting physical therapy happened to coincide with me checking out some yoga classes. I was told not to run, lift heavy weights, bike ride, or do anything that would put my spine in a compromised position or cause any kind of impact. So I thought, let’s try restorative yoga first.
So the first day of my journey to relaxation and peace, I underestimated the available parking and ended up circling the block several times before probably parking somewhat illegally and ran into the building, which is a large, old multi-tenant structure. And realized I had no idea where I was going. Someone else ended up being as late as I was, so I followed her up the stairs and just did what she did, throwing my bag down and slipping my shoes off. I was late, the class was filled to capacity, and my mind was just going shitshitshitshitshit! But, they made a spot for me and class commenced.
Being frazzled and in an unfamiliar situation with a room full of strangers, my brain was pretty much going in every direction except for the correct one. I was so amped up, and then to be still and focused in the moment for an hour plus was just not comfortable for me. And at the end, during that time where you’re just supposed to be still and breathe (I have since come to understand that it’s called “Shavasana”, or Corpse Pose), I finally started to kinda sorta relax…when a woman whose head was at my feet started snoring loudly. I couldn’t make it just be background noise, and I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to laugh or be annoyed, so my mind settled on distracted. I left the class feeling a little twitchy and agitated, but fully knowing the blame for that was on me.
So I tried some other classes; Gentle Yoga, Gentle + Yin Yoga, Vanyasa Yoga, and with each class, I’ve felt more comfortable, more capable, more knowledgeable and more relaxed. I’ve even done the Mother-Daugher Yoga class with one and then both of my kids. It is an entirely different dynamic, in that it’s definitely not quiet, but interactive, but both my daughters and I love the experience. At the end of the first one, in Shavasana, breathing in “Full Heart” and breathing out “Kind Heart”, I looked over at my daughter and saw her eyes closed and total relaxation on her face, and my heart swelled with love and gratitude for this time together.
After a month of yoga, I realized that this really means something to me. I realize that I’m coming to the practice kind of late, but honestly, I wasn’t ready for it before now. So I made the commitment and am continuing to explore classes. There are a couple that I’ve repeated and am working to make part of my weekly routine, while still trying to try new ones.
And I will continue to do that, because of the experience I had this week. I signed up for a “Yoga and Meditation” session. I wasn’t sure what I was in for; I’d learned breathing exercises and such as a way to deal with general anxiety, and sure, I’ve tried for years to quiet my brain, with limited success, because it always wants to be elsewhere, and never wants to turn off, but I’ve never tried organized meditation. So I went into this session without any expectations of experiencing much of what I’d already experienced. Some good, strenuous movements and stretching, and kinda-but-not-really being able to relax.
I pause before writing this, because, as a non-religious person, I believe that one can experience beauty and miracles and spirituality without having any kind of religious affiliation. That said, while I’ve certainly experienced beauty and unselfish acts and deep moments in my life, I am hard pressed to think of anything that I have ever experienced that has truly been mind-bending, aside from the births of my children.
So here it is…we went through the Yoga portion, which was great. It was strenuous and balancing and I ended that portion so much more flexible and comfortable than when I began. Then we moved into the meditation portion. And while I feel like I’d be giving away the keys to the universe if I discussed every detail, I can say that I’ve never focused so much inwardly. I’ve never focused so much on the sensation of breathing, and I’ve certainly never been able to clear my mind completely in such a way. Like, ever.
Whatever it was, when the class ended, I went to thank the instructor and found that I had no voice. I put everything away and grabbed my belongings and ran out to my vehicle, where I just sat and sobbed for awhile. I cannot recall a time that I have felt so relaxed, so peaceful, so grateful and so purged of anxiety. It was intense and powerful, and I feel like I finally understand why people who practice with devotion do so. Mind-body-soul.
And to those of you who are already yoga devotees, I’m going to offer an apology. I’m new to this thing, so please don’t judge any ignorance I display. To you I say, teach me. Correct my errors, and let me continue to learn. It’s been a beautiful experience thus far.