When I first started to settle in to a regular yoga practice, I became aware of the areas in my body that habitually hold tension. As my practice deepened, there were moments of frustration; times when it felt like I would never be able to fold my head to my knees; release my jaw without a deliberate thought to do so; feel graceful as I moved through a vinyasa. Sometimes, the thought that I would never be able to let go of this tension actually prevented me from releasing. I was so afraid of what I might not be, that I wasn’t allowing myself the room to grow.
This morning, as I flowed through some Sun Salutations before sitting on my mat for forward folds, it occurred to me that I have a tendency to hold onto thoughts in the same way that I was holding onto physical tension.
As I folded over my ankles in baddha konasana, letting my hips release and open, I realized that this habit of getting stuck in a certain pattern of thought is holding me back.
As I released my hamstrings into janu sirsasana, and folded much lower than I used to, I exhaled deeply, audibly, and fully. Again, and again, I sigh and exhaled and released. In janu sirsasana, in downward dog, in half lord of the fishes, I let go of physical and emotional tension.
The beauty of yoga is that it heals. It heals wounds we didn’t know were there. As we twist and turn and flow and breathe, our body learns to release. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, we release, we become more flexible, and we become stronger. As we continue to move our bodies on the mat, yoga transfers into our daily life, into our mind, into the tiny corners of our life, dusting out old locked closets.
Releasing the tension in my hips from years of carrying children and running will be a lifelong journey. Releasing myself from the fear of what I might not ever be able to be is my challenge. Stepping up and facing these emotions, these knee-jerk reactions, these barriers I’ve put up, it all comes out on my mat.
I inhale deeply, exhale with a sigh; fall out breaths, one after another, over and over again.