Monday, March 30, 2009
As a yoga student, recently, I got an adjustment in Ustrasana, or camel pose (a backbend done from a kneeling position). It really hurt! Did my teacher grow a Captain Hook-style hand with two prongs? I don’t think so, but it felt like two bony probes penetrating the skin on the middle of my ribs on my back, close to the spine on either side. I didn’t say anything, but I’m pretty sure I gripped my jaw. When we came out of the pose and assembled for further instruction, I thought about saying something like, “as a teacher you probably want to know what happened, blah, what happened, blah.” And I think I have done something like this in the past without much satisfaction. So this time I decided to wait. I was in the passive mode of watching a demonstration when a series of emotions passed through me: little girl rejection preceded fear and I felt something big coming. I have been here before. I was triggered by this situation, and in the past I have battled the tears, and probably would have left class to cry.
This time I silently said, “Oh no…” to my self in a way that didn’t have a lot of emotional resonance: I was just going to see what happened. For an instant I felt like I was standing on train tracks with the locomotive coming. And then it left. The impact of fear and violation and sadness left just like that, leaving only a few tear tracks on my face. And what also came through was a piece of my past. A childhood caregiver in my life used to really manhandle me and scare me. I felt myself as I was then and I understood that experience in a different way. I really felt her—the child me, and what she went through. In the past I had blocked it out, and when it was happening it was too much to bear: how can a child deal with an adult attacking them? I couldn’t. But, what I gained this time was a greater understanding of myself, and compassion for my truth. I unraveled some of my mystery through this experience. I survived.
In that instant, when I was standing on the train tracks with the train coming, the outcome was not clear. The emotions coming were so strong. I felt awe about how strong the emotions are that the small body of a child can handle! There was potency to those feelings that I think no caring adult would want for a child. But there they were. I had felt that then, and feeling it this time was more of an education than anything else. In the past when I had experienced a similar triggering I just felt the sad child who was powerless, but this time I felt myself as a woman who could watch these feelings and feel for the child who was once me.
I am actually thrilled that I allowed this to happen, and feel lighter, more self aware, and more respectful of myself because of this experience. And it was all triggered by a situation in a yoga class where someone (of the same sex as the childhood caregiver) was strongly touching my back in a backbend. Luckily, I embraced it as a safe space for my healing.