Around a year and a half ago, I stepped into my first ashtanga class. We were on a rooftop terrace under the shades of coconut leaves. The air was still and filled with the scent of lemongrass from the incense placed in front of a picture of a man. They called him Guru Ji. He had a big wide smile n his face.
The class begun and after the first ten minutes all I could think of was –Oh god, this hurts. The backs of my legs were burning, the tips of my fingers, well, not even close to the toes. The girl next to me was breathing easy and slow, inhaling, exhaling smooth, like the waves washing the shore. Her legs were bending into places I hadn’t even thought of. I was struggling on my mat, loosing my balance and slipping in my own sweat. What did i get myself into.
The asanas, serve us as gateways to trigger and allow transformation. The asana is your tool, your mirror.
The first weeks of ashtanga yoga gave me a steady daily routine, every morning I would wake up early and by 6.30 I would be sweating in my down dog.
It would take weeks for my fingers to reach the toes without me cursing inside my head. Months for me to start developing a regular daily practice. I began to take pictures of my headstands and legs in unimaginable places. I switched chicken to soy, and coffee to hot lemon water. I felt stronger and healthier, my digestion had improved and over all I felt better about myself. I had fallen in love with this eight limb practice. Every day I rolled out my mat feeling victorious, I had things figured out.
Then came that Wednesday.
It was one of those days on the yoga mat when the energy was invigorating, the breath was carrying the movement, my body flowing through the asana sequence with an ease.
And then suddenly.
With a full deep inhale, arching my back, opening my chest..I felt the most raw emotion of anguish unleash in my body, soaring out from the deepest corners of my heart. My hands trembled and I collapsed right there, tears leaking down my cheeks.
There I was, crying my heart out on the floor on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Feeling disturbed and scared, so upset. The more I cried the more I felt my heart tremble, my body shake, letting it all go. I was being raped by my own past.
That Wednesday taught me what it meant to experience a breakthrough. What it meant to trigger a transformation. How my daily yoga practice digs deep, how powerful the asana practice really is. That Wednesday stripped me completely naked.
I understood how the body remembers, it remembers for years. I had kept it all inside. It was the yoga practice opening up the knots, the work of the asanas stirring up my unresolved issues that I had been carrying with me. Maybe I had been escaping the overwhelming emotional pain. Maybe my body wanted to defend me by locking the painful experiences somewhere deep.
I remembered the words of my teacher in India, there is no separation between body, mind and soul. All my emotions, good and bad, I hold in my cells. Whatever is bothering me will show up in my body.
Through the daily yoga practice my body becomes a physical mirror for my inner self, unfolding the stories I have hidden inside.