Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

The Lion…..

By Lauratri

Tears splashed across my mat, crumpled tissue dissolving in my scrunched up, sweaty hand.  Matthew, kneeling just across from me- patient and kind.  I fell apart today.  It was ugly, and not how I envisaged my final week of the second month course to be.

“The lion sequence has kicked my arse…” I snuffled, really hoping the savasana bodies lying next to me couldn’t see me, couldn’t hear me….I didn’t really want Matthew to see me either, but my voice had piped up without any real control.  What was said, needed to be said.  Like releasing a pressure valve.

The Lion Sequence is the one up from the Moon sequence; and energetically sits between the Primary and Intermediate Series.  Having practiced Primary for three years now, Moon for two, and recently ventured into the first segment of Intermediate it makes sense that I learn it.  I was excited about it.  The standing sequence is long and tough on the thighs…and ahhhh – it feels good to work on the thighs again! About half way through you get to throw your head back, cross your eyes, stick your tongue out and roar.  There’s a spiderman pose, and super man pose (unofficial names….) and, well, it’s something new.  What a relief to inject something extraordinary into a, as much as I love it, regimented practice.

So why am I hating it so much, and feeling all of these negative emotions?  It began last Tuesday.  First session of self-practice learning of the new sequence, and I hit a wall.  Couldn’t get my legs into lotus (first stage of the pinnacle lion pose) and I felt this insane rush of frustration and rage pulsating through me, generating all of this heat in my face and behind the eyes.  I’m not warm enough; there’s not enough hip stuff; why can’t I do this?; I’m not good enough!  I was irrational, but it was so strong I was just grateful that I could take even the smallest step back to see that.  I carried on.  The dolphin section – working so deeply into the shoulders -hitting spots I’ve never noticed before.  I felt sick.  Rabbit section.  I couldn’t remember it.  Sent to back-bending.  Didn’t know that section either.  Can’t remember.  Not good enough. Want to go back to Primary.  Savasana.  Couldn’t stay there.  All of these intense feelings of inadequacy and frustration, it’s not fair….and….ahhhh….a revelation.  This isn’t about Matthew, or the sequence…this is a trigger.  This has hit something that’s making me feel like an angry, hyper-sensitive, misunderstood, pubescent kid again.

Next day.  A new day.  Try again.  URGGGGGHHHHHH!  Fucking sequence!  I’m not used to feeling angry.  I don’t want to vent and rant and throw things and think about all the things that have been unfair and hurt me.

Day three.  Another new day.  Try again.  Surrender.  Just for this week.  Go on.  You’ll get it.  Everyone says you’ll get it.  Grrrrr.  But I make light of it over dinner.  Daddy doesn’t love me issues rearing their ugly head – oh the unforgiving flashlight of yoga shining on my shadow-self.  We all laughed about it, but when I went to sleep that night my chest constricted and throat closed up.  Under the jokes, there’s so much sadness.

Day four.  Moon sequence.  Ahhhhh, the nurturing, lovely moon.  With bolsters and blankets, and eyes half-closed.  A cat licking her wounds, I settled back into Savasana with a smile, and danced my heart out later that night with all of these incredible people I get to practice with each day.

Monday.  Back to Lion.  I’m getting it I think.  Starting to find a fluidity.  Committed to memory, my body is starting to get hold of it…but the back bends.  Again I feel the  emotional wave, and self-doubt.  Another sleepless night.  Don’t want to go to practice.  Just want to stay here, eat chocolate biscuits and watch True Blood.

This morning I wanted to do moon, but something inside propelled my arms over my head for the first Surynamaskara A.  Really?  Are you sure???  Are you up to a two and a half hour practice, featuring all of your arch nemesis postures?  A masochist at heart perhaps…or perhaps deep inside I knew it was exactly what I needed to break the downward spiral and admit defeat.

I was afraid that if I spoke up and shared what I was feeling….that I would be perceived as weak, a failure.  That perhaps the opportunities I’ve been so excited about would be taken away from me because I’m not ready, or good enough…so very far away from perfection.  All of which are the accumulation of various strands of conditioning that hold me back, deplete my self-confidence, and make practicing with self-love so unbelievably difficult.

Matthew has told us time and time again that we are perfect just as we are.  How does it feel to hear those words?  Alien, hard to digest, unfathomable, but alongside that a flicker of warmth.  Inhale…breathe into it….fuel that flame.

When I finally spoke up, and was able to share my emotional “weakness” some of those fears began to fall away, and I could feel the tensions in my chest and throat begin to ease.   To hear the words, we are perfect – just as we are, doesn’t have to be so strange.  It doesn’t have to be such a difficult thing to believe.  We are conditioned to think otherwise.  We are conditioned to be hard on ourselves, be cruel to ourselves…It’s our responsibility to break that, to change that.

It’s why I’m here I guess.  In practicing self-acceptance I must confront the screaming, ugly voices in my head.  I must sit with them, and feel the discomfort as they writhe and stir.  Working through them isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty.  What must the other students think of me?  A snotty, puffy-eyed blob on a purple mat?  It was afterwards, when I returned home to find a note of kindness in the door from my housemate; received a group hug from the girls in the shala before the afternoon session; and heard words of encouragement from my yoga friends – that I could see what they see, and what I see in others when they surrender to their vulnerability: strength and humanity.

I left the shala that morning and the hate I’d been feeling for the Lion sequence had transformed into gratitude.  I may take a day off – and be super kind to myself with a gentle moon sequence – but I’m looking forward to rolling my eyes back and roaring up to the ceiling again soon, and seeing what else comes from it, what other triggers may be lurking about in those untouched places.


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