Inner Work,  Inspiration,  Practice

Yoga and Emotion

Sometimes I love to revel in how immensely practical yoga and spirituality can be.  As a very sentimental person I find myself in the throes of wild emotional forces within me daily.  For many years I had minimal ability to make space for this inner wilderness.  Instead, I would find myself angry, depressed or anxious, yet I knew intuitively there was another way to allow the forces to move in me without being towed under by them.  This way has slowed shown itself to me over time through my practices and most especially yoga.

Yoga calls us to be completely present amidst awkward and difficult sensations.  We are asked to stay with the inner experience and bear the forces that burst forth within during the challenging or sometimes boring asana.  We feel sensations arise, emotions provoked and are asked not to shut down, avoid, distract or repress but instead we are reminded to breathe and soften, over and over again.  As the circumstances of our practice change we feel that inner experience begin to dissipate, shift, change – decharge.  I love using the term decharging because it evokes the process of allowing strong inner sensations to release, spread out through the system and clear.  Aliveness emerges loudly inside, we bear it (safely), then we let it move through, softening into the next moment.  Living and dying moment by moment. 

This process has offered me so much.  I’ve become so much more comfortable with the charged forces within me that rise and fall.  I’ve learned that an emotion can feel much like the heat of a contracted muscle, the vibratory shakes of a tired limb, the soft space of a freely moving diaphragm.  Energy, forces, aliveness within me.  And in the midst of that emotion I’ve come to realize that I can soften around it, breath and soften, over and over allowing it to rise and then to decharge.  It’s a very difficult practice. Like most of us, I’m used to “dumping” my emotions, relieving them externally or placating them through distraction.  The question is: Can I live them?  Can I get curious about them?  They rise, they move, they decharge – do I really want to miss this incredible display of life within me?  Do I really want to miss what they may be telling me about my inner landscape?  Emotions can point to so much, they can point to destructive thinking patterns, old unresolved traumas, intuitive knowings.  I’ve learned this only by softening to them – and I feel that I’ve just barely scratched the surface. 

Yoga and our spiritual practice works underground, in the deep recesses of our character.  It works slowly, honouring the tender, vulnerable nature of our humanness.   But, sometimes we catch its fruits.  When you look to the Spring day and realize that the birds sing more sweetly, the sun shines more brightly and the air smells better than you remember yoga’s work shows itself in your ability to “be here” more completely.

Here’s an experiment – this beautiful song is from the movie 127 Hours, as you listen to it can you let yourself feel your entire inner experience – breathing and softening around it, allowing it to live and die within:  If I Rise – Dido and A.R. Rahman