I come unwanted. I come uncomfortable. I come crazy in the brain and rigid in the body. I come stiff in the joints, tense in the mind. Stilted.
When I come, I say nothing. Other times, I say too much. I am over-stimulated and compensating—chatting like I’m okay—manic.
Or, I’m silent and moody—out of my body, dissociated, depressed.
Usually, I’m late. Usually, I rush in the door, throw things aside and toss my shoes in order to find my spot.
Every time, there’s this moment of incredible gratitude—almost excitement. It happens when I smell it—the pungent, rubber scent of my mat. Home.
Yoga—for miles I have journeyed, from distant shores I have found you. All along, you were underneath me, inside me and waiting for me to discover you. This incredibly simple, incredibly profound way to move my body—you’ve been with me from the beginning. Now you express yourself through me.
There’s the moment I collapse onto it, my rectangle of rubber. I set my things aside and kneel. I sit on my heels and press my forehead into the ground. I take a deep breath and smell it again—my blank space, my home. This spot, upon which I find center.
I stay quiet before class begins. I don’t stretch. Instead, I try to find my breath and relocate my feet.
Where are you, arches? Where are you, toes? Where are you, inhalation, exhalation and that precious space between the two?
This is how it works, this physical process of undoing: I am stuck and fearful at first—and breaking through that wall is pain. There’s the heavy part of me that doesn’t want to move at all, but wants to curl up in bed defeated. It feels like 100 lead pounds in the middle of my gut. There’s the spinning mind whose cartwheels are only more obvious in a room full of silent breathing.
And so, the first 15 minutes is hell—the hardest part of the class for me—because I am faced with how I actually feel.
But then—magic. Something begins to shift. Sweat beads on my hairline. Muscles contract and feel stronger, like they’re receiving oxygen for the first time. They bend, turn and open. Joints crack into place. My body starts to realign.
That’s the funny thing about it—the more I practice, the more alive I become.
I am not working out. I am being resurrected.
Thirty minutes in is when I finally start to fly free. I’m in a side plank, or a flip dog, or holding a warrior pose for seven long breaths. I am twisting my chair, and blinking away salt, and feeling the heaving of my belly on my thighs.
I am squeezing my hand and wringing out my fingers, encouraging all parts of me to wake up, come home. I am getting back into the nooks and crannies.
And here is where I find myself—interlacing fingers at my lower back and spilling my bullsh*t forward, letting it fall from the top of my head, bowing to something greater than my daily human self.
Here is where I find myself—reaching from my center to side-bend, breath hardly possible as an entire lung gets compromised. There’s the head rush when I stand straight up, and the big breath in before I dive in the other direction.
All the while, there is a pushing and pulling…pushing and pulling. Like a snow globe, unshaken, I was dormant, tired and transparent—now, I am alive, and everything inside of me is stirring, talking.
And what do you say, sweet body? You tell me where you’ve been. You show me the places you hurt. You point to where I’ve stored myself—the fear I harbor, the hopes and dreams I’m too cowardly to speak. Past relationships, current tumult, anxiety and prayer—all of it comes rushing forth from the depths of me—from the self who so rarely gets to show herself in this made-up world.
From deep inside of me comes a scream—a long, low howl that emits itself from my first perspiration to corpse pose. This is what is real; this is what I feel; this is who I am. She crawls out from inside of me and shakes herself loose from her confines.
Layers of contrived selves shed with the sweat. Work disappears. Family disappears. Feuds and foibles, money trouble, the dangling questions over much of my life: gone. I am existing, I think to myself. I am deep inside this experience of existence, rolling in it from the inside.
In the panting of breath and the burning of legs, I am smiling. My hand on my heart and my head tilted back, like I’m drinking oxygen for the very first time. My knees shaking. My center contracting. I am unfolding, and becoming, and coming forward.
I am terrified and unafraid together. I am heartbroken and thrilled. I am tormented by guilt and completely innocent. I bend inside the contradictions and let myself flow in and out of understanding.
And all along, I follow the calls from my body.
Let the brain expunge what she needs. Let the soul receive what she longs for. These parts of me working in tandem to undo what has been done, to wipe clean the slate, to make room for something new.
And all the while, I am heading to one point—a place of completion. At last—on my back and in my sweat, eyes closed, limbs splayed—I rest.
What do you want? the final silence asks me. And what do you need?
And always, always, the answer is the same: Nothing. I am complete as I am.
Author: Boo Geisse
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina