I’ll admit that I’ve experienced an emotional release a time or two when meditating, but the exercise-induced release usually reserved for dedicated yogis or serious runners has eluded me…until today. I assumed because I am neither a particularly dedicated yogi nor runner, serious or otherwise.
I’ve had one of those lazy years. It’s been too hot and dry to hike, my gym membership has gone largely unused and because of the later, I’ve refused to spend any extra money on yoga classes. It’s no surprise that my flexibility and strength have diminished leaving me open to injury. About three months ago that injury came in the form of a herniated disk in my sacrum. I’ve had two subsequent injuries since and it’s left me feeling fragile and lacking confidence in my body. Some movements cause my spine to twinge in warning, which in turn causes me to nervously coddle my back so as not to cause additional harm.
Last week I started seeing a physical therapist, and for the first time, felt like I was taking back control. He assured me that I was strong enough to exercise under his observation and even encouraged me to start doing yoga again, reminding me to listen to my body and breathe, breathe, breathe. This, of course, is the cornerstone of the asana practice but for some reason in my fear, I no longer trusted my body to tell me its limits. To be honest, my body had been telling me its limits all along. The first injury happened in the middle of the night when I lifted my sleeping kiddo after a night terror. My back had been warning me that something was up for two weeks prior, and it finally culminated in a pop at a time when I was hardly awake enough to listen the queues my body was giving. The second and third injuries were similar. I felt “off” before exerting myself in a way that caused reinjury.
This morning I decided to take advantage of the return to standard time and got up early to do my strength and stretching exercises. Back-bends, even slight ones like the Sphinx Pose (SALAMBA BHUJANGASANA) are intense with the bulged disk so when I was done, I countered with the perfect bliss that is Child’s Pose (BALASANA). It was then that a relief came over me followed by an emotional release. I felt the stuck energy move and it felt like a wave; almost literally, like something was pushing through me allowing me to breathe clear and free. In my relief, a flood of emotions followed. Ok, maybe not a flood, but more of a trickle. We’re not talking sobs here. As the energy passed through me, the hairs on my arms stood up and got goosebumps. I immediately felt great. Really free and my eyes welled with gratitude. It lasted just a moment, but long enough to realize what it was. It was a cleansing… a detox of fear and ambivalence that had built up over the last few months. To be honest, I don’t even regret my hiatus from yoga and exercise because I’m not sure that I would have noticed such a shift if I were practicing every day. You need a little darkness to appreciate the light as they say.