There have been a handful of times during my 4ish months of travel that my asana practice has made me cry, but several more times that is has helped me cope and work through my emotions. Anytime we experience an emotion our muscles and cells also experience them as well. When we are happy our chest feels more open, when we are scared we tense our muscles, and thanks to one of my lovely class mates from yoga teacher training, I learned that our solar plexus, near our stomach, generally absorbs shock and trauma and our psoas muscle, according to Taoist, is the muscle of our soul. The wonderful thing about a yoga asana practice is that it helps unlock the memories that we sometimes suppress and allows us to work through it during the practice. With every heart opening asana, detoxifying twist, and deep stretch aligned with our breath our asana practice is helping us cope with our past.
The first two times I cried during my practice these past few months was because of old memories I tried to suppress resurfacing. My dog Delilah is one of my favorite things on the planet so being away from her was difficult and I shoved those feelings away until they popped up that one day in India during savasana. The other time was because of the dog that I tried so hard not to fall in love with from Borneo at my last workaway. I was there for three weeks and almost every morning Oli had a hilarious crazy wiggle butt because of her excitement to see me and her dopey frolic through the water during our walks made me fall hard for her. It crushed me when I left her because I have no idea what her fate will be. She is a free roaming dog that belongs to the resort I was volunteering at, but free roaming can still get her hit by a car. I felt helpless and crushed walking away from her but she is an 8ish year old dog and shouldn’t be put on a plane for multiple hours and I already have three dogs as it is. There is nothing I could do except love her from afar.
Being so far away from my family has also been challenging and when I miss them the most I love to dedicate my practice to them and feel close to them once again. I generally feel more at peace after a practice that I’ve dedicated to them but today was different. I decided to dedicate my practice today to my grandaunt that lost her son to cancer just the other day. It crushed my soul when I heard the news because Frankie was one of the kindest people I knew that would light up a room with his positive energy. It always felt refreshing to be around him. Every time I think about his two young boys, his wife, and the fact that this is my grandaunt’s second son that she has lost just makes me cringe with anger and sadness. I was hoping that by dedicating my practice to my grandaunt that I might feel closer to her and be able to send her some love through the practice.
As soon as I got to pigeon pose I broke down. The tears were instant. Pigeon forces you to open your hips and we hold so much stress there that unlocking that stress and getting a flash of my aunt’s face and then Frankie’s beautiful smile, it all started to come out. This is also the asana that helps me remember to breathe through pain and helps me realize that you can create the space in your muscles to go deeper in the asana as well as create space for your body to cope and process your experiences. I held this pose a bit longer than usual today and breathed through the wave of emotions until I felt more space and stillness.
My asana practice today was like a much needed therapy session. There is still so much sadness, but I accept that I don’t have to numb myself or try to be happy all the time. I have a deeper appreciation of my yoga practice after today and really encourage everyone to give it a try instead of see it as something only hippies or really flexible people do.