There are two main reasons why I am not suited for yoga: (1) my right side and (2) my left side. Nevertheless, today I opted for a gentle yoga class to see if it might help my mind, if not my body. Since the average age of the yogis in attendance was 77, it was guaranteed to be gentle.
Then, we did a few “routine” spinal twists. Are you familiar with these? I have done about 20 yoga classes over the past 10 years, and I have heard that spinal twists can be “intense” because it is a way for the body to “detox”. Usually, when the teacher says this over the Enya-like music, I picture Lindsay Lohan at The Promises Rehab.
But today, when I twisted on the right side, I felt a wave of grief.
First breath. Tears threatened.
Second breath. More tears.
I couldn’t get the image of my first C-section out of my head. There wasn’t anything particularly traumatic about it, but I still carry immense sadness about how I felt about my body after my births. “My body doesn’t work. My body is broken. This is ultimate failure.” That was what I screamed at myself after Sadie was born. When my VBAC failed with Simon and I had my second C-section, the sadness was less voracious, but it was there. I hated that I had a body that didn’t work.
Maybe these thoughts are why I can’t sustain a yoga practice. Too many demons living in my tight muscles. One spinal twist and they start to tumble out.
When it was time to twist on the left side, I was ready for more garish memories about the bright lights of the operating rooms where my kids were whisked away by officious prenatal doctors.
First breath. Tears again. “Hey, at least I am sad on both sides!”
Second breath. More tears just like the other side.
I broke my previous personal record that morning. However, the reason I was running so fast was because I was fresh off a Lifetime TV Movie break up with R., with whom I had signed up to run the race. After he dumped me in Chicago’s busiest plaza in the middle of a work day (“Sorry about all that mascara running down my face, boss!”), I was determined to still run the race. It was particularly fantastic to see him at the starting line with some cute, highly-toned strawberry blonde woman who wore Asics.
So I took off running and cranked my iPod, praying to finish so I could go home and sit on my tear-soaked couch and cry some more. But I lost steam around mile 12 and then my iPod froze on the worst song ever for the situation (Dolly Parton’s Jolene).
R. and his lady friend ran by me– so close I could hear their conversation.
Let’s just say this is not the stuff of happy memories.
But at the end of the yoga class, in my angle of repose, I thought about these memories and how my body carried me through both times–physically and emotionally. I have been mad at my body because it couldn’t labor and dilate like it was supposed to and that it couldn’t run a half marathon as fast as a Kenyan (or at least fast enough to miss R’s riveting conversation with ”the woman after me.”)
I may be ready to let that go.
And I may be ready for a real yoga commitment.