Holding Space for Yourself

I was in Camel pose, standing on my knees, heart lifted and head dropped back.  I started to focus on my alignment, from my toes and working my way up. There was a gentle release and opening as I surrendered to the discomfort of the pose. Deepening with my breath, I felt a warm fuzzy feeling that seemed to flow through my body and work its way up to my head. “Oh no, am I about to cry?” “Yes, I’m about to cry.” I wondered if I should stop and come out of the pose, or just hold back on the tears. Then I remembered the intention that I set at the beginning of the class, “I Am Love, I am loved, and surrounded by love. I give and receive love freely and effortlessly.”  I knew something was trying to be released. I wanted to know what. So I allowed the process to take place. What came up was subtle, but I was able to pinpoint the feelings and dive in. I discovered I knew those feelings very well.  Abandonment, fear, anxiety.

I had lived my life needing the comfort of being “in control”.  An existence of living in the future kept me rigid and unable to soften in the most emotional situations. I needed to be in control of everything. I later learned this was the ego trying to protect me, and that I was a person full of fears and pain. The rigidity made me unapproachable, sarcastic and cynical. It wasn’t uncommon to hear strangers say, “Smile”, randomly, when out in public places.  I had plans, goals, and a schedule for just about everyone close to me, and I checked in frequently to ensure they stayed on task. I was trying to run my life, and theirs. When things did not go as I thought they should, or someone could not meet my expectation, there was great disappointment and anger. If I could get away with them not being in my life, I would write them off as if they never existed and shut down.

I strongly recommend reading, “The Power of Now”, E.Tolle.

As I began to awaken to my internal issues in my late 20’s, I was able to uncover the layers that were plaguing me. It took years to really start seeing any changes, but the more I applied what I was learning from self-help books and metaphysical teachings, the more I began to soften. I was jogging a lot at that time, and was looking for stretches to incorporate into my routine. When I purchased my first yoga DVD, I was about 32 and in need of physical release and deeper healing.  When I understood the roots of my problems, I was able to start the process of letting go of the toxicity my own mind had poisoned me with over the years, through the practice of yoga and meditation. These toxins had settled into muscles, joints, organs, tendons, all of the soft and gooey tissues. Hell, even the blood. Your thoughts and childhood traumas go right down to the cellular level and even affects the DNA.

So when these feelings came up in Camel Pose, I was a bit surprised, but I recognized them. I chose to allow the tears to flow. With it being hot yoga, no one knew that those were really tears running down my face mixing in with sweat. I stayed in the backbend until what was there was released, then I sat upright on my heels. Taking some time to allow it all to pass, to settle. The rest of the class had moved on, but I just sat there, feeling compassion and love flowing in me, for me. I could have chosen to stop doing the pose, or just resist the tears from coming out. But how would my intention be able to serve me if I took that route?  I clearly set my intention, and programmed it in my mind, however, my body and heart needed to make space for my intention to be true, and for it to be received, perhaps even for me to believe it.  I once read somewhere, love and fear cannot inhabit the same space at the same time, one has to go.

I see it often in classes. Students who decide to come out of a pose as soon as they begin to FEEL something. They are not in pain, or hurting themselves, they just don’t want to feel whatever is coming up. They are unable to hold space for themselves. They will pick and choose the poses that they feel their best in, and avoid exploring the others. Yet, that is when the real work is being done on the mat. When the healing is going much deeper than just getting the mind-body high from doing yoga. “You can’t heal, what you won’t allow yourself to feel.”

Stepping onto the mat is not always going to feel good. Most of us have some real serious issues, and traumas to face. Stuff you may have thought was no longer there, things that you may not even have conscious memory of. But let me tell you, “The Body Keeps the Score”, another awesome book I read written by, Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.

So, the next time your holding Warrior II and your knee begins to shake, or your in a backbend and you feel something coming up in your heart, or you feel emotional in Savasana, just breath and allow yourself to feel it. Try not to ignore it, or act like its not happening, embrace it, face it, and know that you are doing the work of healing yourself.


Yoga for Recovery and Self-Discovery, C.Sams





— Posted on February 10, 2016 at 2:18 pm