Yoga Releases Trauma

When Riley was about eight months old, I signed up for a 12 week session of yoga. We were living in Illinois, I knew no one. I needed to get out of the house. I wanted to get back in shape. I had not taken yoga in a couple of years.

One night, a guy named Paul was teaching. He had very gentle energy. The class went well. It was just challenging enough. I was pushed, but not too far. The last several moments of yoga class are usually spent in Savasana, lying flat on your back, arms to your sides, palms up, eyes closed. Total relaxation and surrender. Paul played some music during that night’s Savasana and I’ve been trying to find it ever since. It was acoustic guitar. It sounded almost Native American, but maybe not. The voice was that of a gentle father, filled with love for his child. It was like balm on my soul. Maybe my father never loved me like that, but some fathers do. Fathers can treat their babies as precious. In that moment, I felt paternally loved. I wish I could find that music. I don’t even know what the name of the yoga place was to track Paul down and ask him.

Another night, I was in class. The teacher was a woman, who was very no nonsense. She wasn’t gentle like Paul. She was good though. Just different. During the class as I went into downward dog pose, I was surprised as emotions came bubbling up. I held the pose in silence as tears started to hit my mat. I gulped and managed to keep going. During Savasana this “all business” instructor knelt at my head and with strong gentle hands rubbed China Gel (kind of like Ben-Gay) into the back of my neck. I hadn’t asked her to do so, and did not expect it, but it felt okay.

While driving home that night, I had a complete emotional meltdown. Tears just ripped their way out of me and I had to pull over the car on a dark rural road because I could not drive. When I finally could move, I got back onto the road and crept home, sobbing as I clutched the steering wheel. Letting myself into the apartment, Todd was there on the couch, watching TV. Our eyes met and the tears came again. I could not talk. He feared I’d been in an accident. He didn’t know what was wrong. I climbed onto his lap on the couch and began to sob. Began to wail. It wasn’t even my voice anymore. It was young. It was tiny. I cried harder than I have ever cried before or since. He held me and he let me, and he didn’t even know what was wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong either. I still am not sure what it was all about.

I’d suffered incredible trauma just eight months prior during Riley’s arrival, and was sent home 24 hours later to care for a baby with no follow up, after enduring what anyone would consider torture(epidural didn’t take on one side, felt the surgery). Or maybe it was a lifetime of being Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar.

All I know is I released something huge that night. And maybe that’s why I have only taken yoga sporadically over the years. Maybe I’ve been afraid of emotions that big.

Maybe it’s finally time.

Maybe it’s finally safe.

I’ve had a couple of teary moments at yoga lately. I just keep moving through it. It’s okay. I’m just crying. I can cry and do yoga at the same time. And it’s not always like that. Sometimes yoga is pure joy.

The other night, during our final child’s pose, I heard someone a couple of mats over, quietly weeping.

I said a prayer for her, that she be healed.

May we all be healed.

4 thoughts on “Yoga Releases Trauma

  1. I’ve been that person sobbing on their mat in the middle of the class. More than once. I can say that my yoga instructors have all been very compassionate as I find myself in this position and I love knowing I’m not the only one who does this.
    What I find truly amazing, though, is your ability to sob in Todd’s lap after yoga without feeling as though you need to explain it or justify your strong emotions. I always find myself denying my sadness by trying to find a reason for it and listening to that inner voice saying, “What do you have to cry about? Honestly? You have a great life and you’re not in any danger now, so suck it up, you wimp!”

  2. i do believe the body holds emotions and memories and yours sound like they are being released. its difficult, but im sure its healing. im really excited about your book!! congrats! i didn’t realize you published until i popped back on your blog (after a long blogging reading-writing hiatus). You ROCK!

  3. Oh my dear soul sister friend.
    This made me cry. Not sure why. I feel it, I guess.

    I listen to this podcast called, On Being, with Krista Tippet. (sp name?) . It is free, and a few months ago you can find the interview she did with Sean Korn. It will speak to you. Beautiful…

    🙂