I can’t always get myself to a mat, even though it’s literally within reach.
It doesn’t always occur to me, that a downward dog might pull me back to center—or the present.
The present can feel like a slippery ball I can’t catch, and I’m often too lazy or irritated to chase after it.
When I’ve lost my faith in gravity, goodness or safety itself—I run. I bolt.
I rage and resist, even against that which would center me.
Especially against what would center me—like yoga.
The scared parts of me take the wheel, and drive the bus. This makes it hard for the wise parts of me to get in the car and get to yoga.
But yoga waits—always.
Days, months—even years.
Yoga is a devoted lover—she welcomes me back with open arms and without question or complaint.
She is happy to remind me to breathe, to center, to feel the earth and to let the ground hold and support me.
And she doesn’t yell that I forgot—again.
She reminds me that I don’t need to help hold up the world. The world isn’t asking—I can put it down and just be on my mat. Still, she is gentle with the way I try, anyhow.
She reminds me I don’t need to obsess or ruminate—but that if I do, it’s okay.
She reminds me that judging myself—for the monkey in my mind, on the trampoline—won’t do any good.
She is happy to let me unfold and to give me some space, until I can grow back into myself again—no matter what the state of being I arrive in.
Yoga’s love is simple, pure, monumental and transforming.
When I can give in to this bliss—surrender to stillness, and trust that it’s not dangerous to be still or prone—I find healing.
Yoga holds me—she allows all of me to be held.
This is a lesson I constantly need to re-learn.
When I am afraid, I try to outrun myself. It’s hard to attempt or even assume there is safety when I’m afraid. When I’ve been hijacked by fear, the very last place I want to be is in my body.
This is true for many of us, and for trauma survivors, this can happen fast and unconsciously.
The “tell” that I’m stressed is that my feet are up and in actual runner’s position—all of the time. It’s hard to emotionally ground myself when I have trouble keeping my actual feet on the actual ground.
I must remind myself, “Me. Here. Safe.”
I put my hand on my own face, run my own fingers through my hair, and use my voice to soothe my ears.
I must soothe myself back into my body, to lessen the grip of fear.
“Safe. Safe. Safe.” I say it and other chants:
“It’s okay to feel and to be.”
“I won’t feel this way when I don’t feel this way.”
“This too shall pass.”
I talk myself through fear, until I can remember (and feel) that safety is right here.
Safety is on the mat, in the room and available—almost always. The actual danger has already gone. I resist yoga when it would be most healing—over and over I forget how to let yoga nurture and soothe me.
Resistance takes over—this is the cycle.
I must learn—I am learning—to make peace with this.
I forget. I remember.
I forget to remember—and I remember once again.
Yoga doesn’t punish me, chide or yell: “Where have you been?”
She always says, “Come here—sit, stretch, rest, breathe.”
I have to accept and not shame myself for running from yoga, because it does still happen.
Sometimes the kindest pose I can do is knowing this truth.
There are times I can’t make myself feel safe, no matter how desperately I wish I could, but even that stuck truth will shift. I trust that I will return to the mat of me, the spine of truth, the bones of hope and the connecting breath. The knowing under doubt. The certainty under fear.
Writing reminds me yoga loves unconditionally and will be there when I am ready to unfold. Writing reminds my brain—safety is accessible, when my body doesn’t yet believe it’s possible or true.
There are times I am not ready to rush towards what heals, rather than what is familiar.
Yoga never yells at the way I lose my balance. Yoga never judges that I’m not more flexible. Yoga doesn’t mind that I learn so little and so slowly. Yoga never says bend harder, deeper or faster than what is possible for me.
Yoga loves me every single time I come back—as much as anyone and everyone.
Yoga is a magic miracle, of universal motherly love, in bendy form.
She roots for us all.
Author: Christine “Cissy” White
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Helen Alfvegren