In times of heightened stress and chaos, I either latch on tightly to my yoga practice or completely abandon it and let it go.
Recently, I chose the latter.
Teaching, a lot. Doing, a lot. Being, a lot...to myself and others. Simply being a woman, having a period and opting out of the practice altogether to rest + restore because that is what I needed. It felt too easy to back out no matter what the circumstances were. But along with that were heightened emotions, stress and great discomfort. About finances, about the state of my health, about packing up and moving (again), about all of it. I didn't feel that I had a solid grip on anything, but as one of my most esteemed teachers prescribed: Just. Keep. Going.
And so I am.
This week, I finally returned to my mat and was reminded of exactly what keeps me on it. That deep, feel-it-in-my-bones release that happens afterwards. The physical and emotional purge of the absolute excess and unnecessary.
This practice has taught me a lot about emotional discomfort, and that our emotions are only temporary when we allow ourselves to surrender to them rather than suppress them. And as individuals, we naturally store those emotions in specific parts of our bodies.
Stress in our neck and shoulders.
Anger in our liver.
Fear in our heart.
Shame in our stomach.
When those emotions remain suppressed and the cortisol levels rise, it creates inflammation in the body and manifests as illness and DIS-ease. But when we give ourselves an outlet for our discomfort, that's where the physical and emotional purge takes place. The drops of sweat on our mat are symbolic of another something in our body that we don't need, that we are rinsing out and letting go of. Laying in our sweat, in the literal toxic shit that we just released on our mat. That is a gratifying moment knowing that it's no longer tightly trapped inside.
We allow ourselves to endure way too much pain and stress these days, and for extended periods of time at that. However, in temporary moments of discomfort in our practice...pigeon pose, wheel pose, eagle pose...we instantly feel the want and need to come out of it.
But in those moments where a pose brings up discomfort in the body, surrender to it, stay in it. Allow yourself to feel the deep release and emotional flush.
That stress that you feel when circumstances are tough. Face it, deal with it, sit with it and let it come up.
It's only temporary. Every bit of it.
When we surrender, we begin to notice how we (really) feel and tap into what we actually need as we move through poses and postures that further assist in the FLUSH; literally flushing out and releasing excess stress, toxins and stored emotions that we've held inside. That release that we feel afterwards is Pure. Gold.
Feeding comfort with discomfort. And finding comfort in the discomfort.
Honor your emotions and simply allow yourself to be aware of them.
Sit with them. Feel them, just as they are.
Then find an outlet for them.
My prescription for you: Movement + Breath. Breath + Movement.
Neither one needs to be fancy, and they may look and feel very different for all of us. In my experience as a student and teacher of yoga, the pairing of the two together is a potent means of healing + releasing. Deep self-nourishment.
Start by starting, or in my case, re-starting. Because you want that pure gold waiting for you on the other side. THAT is worth enduring the pain for.