I originally wrote this post on May 26, 2015 during a time of grief and heartache. As I note in the post, the body and spirit are very connected. This week I’ve been thinking about working toward increasing flexibility in my hips, and I remembered this time—just a year ago—when doing any sort of hip opener or stretch would cause a flood of emotions, so much so that I ceased my yoga practice for weeks. Let me tell you, though—yoga can heal both body and soul. This is how I began practicing yoga again.
I stopped doing yoga for over a month.
Every time I tried to practice, the tears would begin to swell. The grief would become too much. My physical body is so connected to my spirit that as one ached, so did the other. Moving my body in certain ways worked certain chakras that were terribly off balance, and I felt it. And since I was already grieving everyday, I simply was not willing to do anything else that would set off that grief again, even if it could be the means to helping me find healing and balance once more. So, I stopped doing yoga for over a month.
Here is what I wish I had done instead: Sat down on my mat.
There is a practice I have recently learned about called Living Movement. It’s like a glorified morning stretch. It’s a practice in body awareness and gentle healing. I lie down on my mat and slowly move my body in whatever way feels right. I usually begin at my hips, maybe shift them from side to side, do a simple twist, stretch my legs, then move up my body, to my waist, shoulders, neck… moving my body slowly and intentionally, in whatever way it wants to go.
I am vocal when I practice. While there are certain sounds you can make to emphasize healing (like a buzzing noise, or a “zgee zgoo”). I usually just let myself sigh, yawn, or moan—whatever feels good. This, combined with the unstructured, slow movements, moves energy in the body. Last week my personal Living Movement practice was 10 minutes. Today it was 30 minutes. Time doesn’t necessarily matter, because my body needs different things at different times.
Today, in the middle of my practice, I broke down in tears, just for a moment, and I let myself be there. Personal yoga practice, especially a Living Movement practice, is about listening to your body and sitting with it, just as it is. And if my body needs to grieve just a little bit more, I will let it. So regardless of how I am feeling, I will aim to sit down on my mat. Maybe, if my body feels like doing so, it will begin to move and maybe, when the time is right, it will begin to heal. That is what yoga is all about.
* I learned about Living Movement at Bodhi Yoga in Provo, UT, where I trained to be a yoga instructor. Visit gobodhiyoga.com to see the class schedule. I highly recommend it.