There was a time when I woke up every day with a racing heart and sweaty palms. EVERY DAY. For years. And, as so many of us do, I pushed through it. I got up, ran with my dog, took the metro into work, changed jobs, changed jobs again, started practicing yoga, moved (out of state)…a few times, and then really started getting into yoga.
And, then one day…it clicked. I didn’t feel free.
The racing heart and the sweaty palms weren’t something to stop or cover up. They were a signal. A symptom asking me to dig a little deeper and to get honest with myself. The thing wasn’t necessarily the thing. As I say in class, “Does this make sense?”
I was living a life of “should’s:”
I should have this wardrobe and wear my hair a certain way.
I should run and work out intensely and only do power yoga because that’s what counts.
I should only eat “clean” foods.
I should outperform at work, move up, and make way more money.
I should talk and speak a certain way.
I should never slow down or take breaks or show weakness.
That’s not freedom. That was [and sometimes still is] a bondage of my own making nestled into the inner workings of my mind. And, this sense of freedom, even if students don’t say it in class, is the number one reason I see so many seek out yoga. We long to feel free.
Because, innately and deep down we know that:
Waking up tired is not freedom.
Rolling out of bed with an already racing heart and short fuse is not freedom.
Feeling sluggish and constantly sore in our physical bodies is not freedom.
Rushing from task to task is not freedom.
Believing that we are a diagnosis is not freedom.
Feeling like we have to lift/run/whatever to get in a daily workout is not freedom.
Feeling insecure of our abilities is not freedom.
Living in constant fear or negativity is not freedom.
Doubting our deepest desires and dreams is not freedom.
Denying the divinity, beauty, and self-love within our hearts is not freedom.
When I started to recognize my patterns that kept me locked in a cycle of feeling like a hamster on a wheel (which I’ve heard a handful of times already this week), I started to ask better questions. The first being:
What makes you feel free?
And, I couldn’t answer it. I cried. I didn’t even know. You may not know.
There’s a Yoga Sutra that reads:
Sthira Sukham Asanam. —>> aka the Sanskrit
—>> Translation: The posture (yoga pose) should have steadiness and ease. And, through that steadiness and ease within the physical body, the natural comfort and joy of our being is discovered. How beautiful, yes?
Practicing yoga as a fully integrated path can help us get off the hamster wheel and open up our hearts and arms to all the freedom we seek. And, it can start with the poses. As you move through a yoga practice, does it feel easeful and steady? Can you breathe through the poses? Here is where we cultivate steadiness into our lives. We know we’ve gone too far in a yoga class when our breathing becomes short, tight, nonexistent, or when our faces are beet red. So, we back off. We come back to steadiness and ease. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a challenge to the practice, but rather we pay more attention and move with intention.
Sounds simple, right? That an entry point to freedom could be through the body? Indeed.
As we practice we start to unlock doors that have been sealed off for so long. Perhaps we start to recognize what it feels like to feel free. Perhaps we remember those pieces of our lives that bring us immense joy and love and that wonderful kind of laughter that makes us cry. But, we need to practice. I need to practice. You need to practice. Every. Day. And, I don’t necessarily mean for 60 minutes every time.
So, coming full circle…remember this: The thing isn’t always the thing. Your sweaty palms, your racing heart, your feelings of heaviness, your chronic low back pain, your overwhelming fatigue…the symptoms aren’t the end point. They aren’t something to be ignored. How can you pay more attention to what is happening within your body and your mind? What is it that you need? What is your body trying to tell you?
As always, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you. Is there a chronic condition you’re experiencing? Do you have a question about it? I can’t say I have all the answers, but I’ll certainly be a sounding board and maybe even a guide.
With so much love,
P.S. If you’ve been following along with this series that has been introducing Yoga Therapy, please know how immensely grateful I am for you to be here. For years, I have sought to share yoga teachings that help to spark a curiosity of your own body and mind’s ability to heal. And, I truly want to support you on that journey. Please write to me if you’re curious about yoga therapy and have questions about how it may support you. I enjoy a good Whats App or Zoom date and would love to connect with you! I’m also dropping a testimonial here: