There is no doubt that life is hard and filled with moments, circumstances and unforeseen situations that can change our lives in an instant. Realistically, it's a certainty of life for us all. Yet, why do we often get caught off guard when these times come? Why is there something innately within us that makes us think that we won't experience the hard times of life? It's within these hard moments that we must be equipped with tools to adapt, adjust and just be with what we are experiencing instead of naturally feeling like we need to get through it.
Little did I know, as I stepped into my first experience with yoga, that I had stepped into a practice that would help me heal and move through the grief that I experienced from my mom's death.
A Safe Space
I began practicing yoga at a pivotal time in my life. It was during one of those hard circumstances I mentioned above. I stepped into my first yoga class weeks after my mother had died. Honestly, in the beginning, I merely thought I was pursuing another means towards my physical fitness. Little did I know, as I stepped into my first yoga class experience, that I had stepped into a space that would support healing and an outlet to grieve my mom's death. After my mom died, I had no desire to seek grief counseling. I wasn't resistant to the idea, I just felt like I didn't need it. Early in the experience of my yoga practice, I discovered that this system, this practice called yoga, was going to be an avenue for me to pursue the wellbeing and support of my body, mind and soul. The physicality of the practice is what first drew me to the practice. It is what caught my attention. I was curious. Yoga was unlike any other fitness endeavor I had experienced. I was challenged physically and mentally. I could feel early on (yet couldn't quite articulate it yet) that this new practice was far beyond just a physical practice. Yoga was going to encompass, compliment and accentuate my overall wellbeing. There was a wholeness to the experience. The yoga practice, my time on the mat, was also providing a space for me to navigate the uncharted territory that I now had to pursue within life without my mom. It was within my time on the mat that I could be fully present for myself and for the experience I was creating moving and breathing with purpose and intention on my mat. This was going to be the beginning of a pursuit, a journey. A journey through the hardness of life without my mom that I would now seek to find strength and peace to step forward and begin. I became dedicated to the practice almost instantly. This new found system, yet ancient approach, was helping to provide structure and relevance to my daily living as a mom, wife, daughter and friend.
Over the years, I've found that when something provides relevance within our lives, it becomes a necessity. This is how I began to associate with my yoga practice. Spending time on my yoga mat, consistently, was providing me an outlet to grieve, cope and adjust. I was a fairly new and young mom. This new season in my life without my mom had a significant impact and it was quickly asking me how I was going to show up for my family, friends and myself. I was determined that I was going to show up in a big way for them all. This hard moment in life was asking me how I was going to move forward. So I did just that, I stepped my foot forward and I practiced yoga. I did not realize that in the following days after my yoga practice began, I would begin to experience a release of emotions and a space within my mind, body and soul, where I could grieve, release and nurture myself through this extremely hard time. This space of release would provide the expansion that I so desired. The expansion of space to support all of those people I mentioned above that I wanted to show up for. Yoga was a system that was going to help me maneuver through this season and has proven to continue to provide a practice of skillfulness and adaptability during life uncertainties and hard times that have followed. Life uncertainties and hard times will follow you for sure, but yoga helps.
I can remember the first time I experienced tears streaming down my face in savasana. The tears slowly released, and within this release, I could sense healing.
Looking back, this would not be the only hard moment when I would find myself leaning into my yoga practice for support. I can remember the first time I experienced tears streaming down my face in savasana. The tears slowly released, and within this release, I sensed healing. These were not sobbing tears, but the weeping ones that you feel you can't control or stop. The ones that continue to seep out from your eyes uncontrollably. This release was the beginning of a soothing space for me to grieve what once was, and to create space to carry my mom and her presence with me going forward. Now, I will also add that I was kinda freaked out a bit, at first, about the fact that I was "crying" at the end of a yoga class. This is when it really dawned on me that this practice was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was still very new to the practice but quickly found that the space on my yoga mat was safe space - a space for me to create an experience of release and letting go. I am also grateful for the teacher that provided and held this space for me.
Don't Skip Savasana
Within the yoga teacher trainings that I lead, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the last posture - the posture of conscious relaxation, the posture of absorption - savasana. This is truly a time to just be, to give way to absorption within the many facets of the practice - the physical, mental and spiritual wholeness of the experience we encounter and create with time on our mats. It is also a space of letting go. I dedicate to providing and holding this space for my students. I don't want them to miss this crucial piece of the practice experience. I certainly want to instill, within those I train to teach, the importance of this time that they will gift to their students. Early on within my practice, I sometimes encountered teachers that didn't make enough time for savasana. Savasana almost seemed unimportant, or an afterthought. There wasn't much emphasis or time dedicated to this posture. They were quick to end the class without giving ample time for us to linger and absorb the fullness of the experience. I'm not quite sure why, but it may have been that these teachers weren't comfortable within this space themselves, or they may not have had the confidence and knowledge of how to hold this space for students. After you experience these sweet moments of release, like the one I shared above, it is imperative that teachers are skillful in their time management and planning to provide this time within the classes they teach. I learned early on that savasana was a crucial part of the transformational qualities found within the practice of stillness. I learned this from the teachers that taught this great importance. It is important as teachers of the practice to understand the transformational qualities and opportunities that the yoga experience provides. Ultimately, teachers teach what is important to them. If we want our students to embrace savasana then we must give this space and time priority and teach its importance. The posture of savasana is just as important as any of the other postures that we practice. It is within the stillness that we can begin to see that the hard moments of life are not permanent. The hard moments are just that - fluctuations of moments in time. Nothing in life is permanent and within this acknowledgement we can begin to know the importance of embracing the present moment more fully. We can begin to notice that within the movement of life and life circumstances and uncertainties, that we can find a settling within; a settling into the stillness that is attainable for us all. This stillness, this settling, must be practiced. It must be given priority amongst all of the other movements of life. Don't skip savasana!