On the Mat

Photo by Lindley Battle 

Photo by Lindley Battle 

laying in pigeon folded over myself, I felt cracked wide open.  Already 40 minutes into my personal practice I suddenly wanted to bolt.  I needed to be anywhere, but on that mat in the honesty and truth that it puts before you.

If any one's ever told you that yoga was easy, they were lying.  It's not that that the physical postures are all that difficult to master (some surely more difficult than others).  The concept of the asanas is simple enough and once you learn a few and the general gist of things it can easily be integrated into your day.  That's never what's really been all that difficult for me.  What's difficult is practicing through anxiety. 

I've recommited to a stronger daily practice in the last month.  I'm getting really honest with myself about getting on the matt again and practicing strongly 5-6 days a week.  When you commit to your practice in that way, you are making a pact with yourself that you can't simply check out.  

It's not easy.  My anxiety has been up recently, this is the natural disposition of a first born child I've found.  Do you tend to be high strung, take the majority of life including yourself way too seriously, you feel the pull of responsibility weighing on your shoulders?  Yeah me too, now add a big life changes, the end of a 2 year relationship and well, you've got a recipe for more anxiety.  

You can't hide your anxiety from the yoga mat.  I can hide my worries, my frustrations, my sharpness from most people.  It's only those that are required to spend large amounts of time with me that see me in all of my broken facets.  I even do a pretty good job of hiding the pain from myself most days.  I think most of us are actually like this.  We numb out and check out from ourselves checking Facebook too often, watching TV, drinking too much to avoid what's underneath.  But the yoga matt is like wonder women's lasso of truth.  Now 40 minutes into my practice and I was flooded with emotion and I wanted to bolt.  I wanted off that matt so hard it hurt.  It felt like someone was taking a knife to my heart and I didn't want to look at it.  Conversations from dinner last night replayed in my head.  "Why'd I say that out-loud".  "Did I handle that right?"  "Is this how it's alway's going to feel"? "why are friendships so hard?"  "Will I always feel like I'm not good enough?"  All of that self doubt is in there.  I'm a strong powerful women AND I struggle with feelings of shame, low-self esteem, doubt, body shaming.  All of that is in there.  I'm strong, i've done a ton of work around those issues and i'm going to continue to do a ton of work around them, but I'm not convinced they actually ever go away, you learn how to dance with them.  You learn how to make friends with them.  

Earlier in the week I felt this feeling of anxiety, frustration and I stepped right of the mat.  "Fuck-it" I said.  Well, I can tell you right now I was so frustrated with myself the entire rest of the day for walking away from those feelings I was determined not to let them chase me off the matt again.  

I was more ready for them today.  I knew they were in there.  The dark feelings swept in and I said hello.  I kept practicing.  I took another vinyasa and softened into my pigeon.  I asked myself "do you want to cry?, do you want to breath hard and push harder to ignore or do you want to open"?  i chose to open, and it was a choice.  I chose to stay and be with that pain, to let the anxiety wear at my edges.  It was an act of compassion towards the anxiety.  An act of self love. 

That was my adventure on the mat in befriending myself. 

Where in your life are you pushing against yourself?  Is there somewhere that you'd like to open and befriend yourself?  Have you ever felt the urge to bolt off your matt?