Yoga was the key to a door I didn’t know was locked.
When I first went to yoga, I looked at it as just another form of exercise to try out. (This was years before it reached the ubiquitous popularity it has today!) It was another fad to investigate as I began to tackle the frustrating problem that my physical health had become. But by the end of my first class, I understood that a lot more was going on for me than just the strengthening of muscles.
I followed the instructor’s directions for this part-stretching, part-meditation activity, then headed to my car to drive home. Before I even left the parking space, I started to cry with a fury that I hadn’t experienced since my mother left our home when I was 13 years old.
Sitting in the car, I had this out of body experience as I watched myself cry. Then I surprised myself again by scolding myself with a critical, judgmental reprimand to stop acting in this melodramatic way.
Had these feelings been locked up that long, waiting to be expressed? I was astonished that this powerful thaw could seep out and release deep emotions that had been conveniently filed away for years.
This opening was scary and unfamiliar. I was frightened, and felt unprepared for this. I had spent most of the last fifteen years trying to avoid this exact moment. Nausea gripped my belly viscerally as though to say, “Pay attention. This is for real. Something really important is happening here and if you ignore it, you’ll miss the chance of a lifetime.”
When I got home, I went to the couch to rest, not knowing what else to do. I felt like my protected world had been blown apart. I had no words for the experience, only sensations in my mind and body, so I closed my eyes and prayed.
I was frightened. I had always done such a good job at compartmentalizing the sorrow and grief of my childhood. I had trained myself to disconnect from the grief and had gotten so good at pretending that it never happened, that sometimes I wondered if it really had.
The yoga experience reminded me that it absolutely had happened. Not only that — unless I found a healthy pathway for the sadness to be released, it was going to bring sickness to my life, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
After this experience, I was motivated to learn more about what had happened to me. I went to the dictionary and looked up yoga. The literal translation of yoga is yoke and the definition of yoke is “to be joined in a close relationship.” Now I understood, in dealing with my childhood trauma, my mind had compartmentalized itself from my heart, body and spirit in an effort of self preservation. The systems of my life were not yoked or joined in a close relationship. In fact the mind, heart, body and spirit were not communicating at all. The practice of yoga, and particularly Kundalini yoga, is about restoring, balancing and, yes, joining the systems in close relationship.
What felt scary about that first yoga experience became less about the sensations and emotions that boiled up and more about the opportunity that had come in to heal me. The Universe had handed me a chance to be more than the abandoned child. I said yes to all the challenges, put on my warrior posture and found the key to my life.