.. or at least I did! And the different was in a good, no great, way. So it going away is a little worrying in a not so good way.
Four months ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) I began this ‘journey’ (a two year yoga teacher training course) and ever since then I have felt happier, calmer, generally all around better than I have done for years. I’d stopped wasting my energy on the pointless stuff. Being argumentative, defensive and angry, traits of mine I wasn’t proud of, seemed to be a thing of the past. The tightening in my chest that came with rising frustration and imminent lashing out was no more – and it felt great. I was really enjoying this different me.
But yesterday the ‘different me’ unravelled under the most unexpected of circumstances. It was the end of my fourth teacher training weekend and I’d had a fantastic time. I left Totnes in a buoyant mood, a little tired, but feeling nurtured and loved in a way that only my group of budding yoga teachers can make me feel. When I walked in the door to a house that hadn’t been cleaned; still had dirty litter trays; no sign of the washing machine being used all weekend and a complete lack of dinner preparation, I lost it.
The hoover jammed as I tried to vacuum up large chunks of split cat litter and I found myself angry and crying. My internal monologue was massively self-absorbed: “Why me… Its not fair… I’ve got some much to do… I’m supposed to be taking it easy… Why can’t he do anything to help… etc, etc.” Within a flash I’d decided to leave the hoovering and found myself sat in the garden smoking a cigarette, something I hadn’t even thought about doing in over a week. An action that is often my way of taking time out from a situation to collect my thoughts and find a different way of reacting or an indication of a downward spiral.
By the time I found my peace with the evening I had not cooked any dinner, been massively indecisive about what I wanted to eat, if anything at all, and wasted a whole tin of spaghetti hoops over the work surface when trying to cook something even that simple proved so frustrating (due to an, admittedly quite large spillage, when opening the tin) that in a fit of rage I emptied the contents over the work surface.
What was happening. I’d been feeling great. I’d had an amazing weekend. But without warning everything was/is descending into misery, frustration and anger. Why?
It’s a question I’ve pondered for most of today. Some kind of energy shift during the yoga perhaps?
Sunday’s training was an introduction to yoga for mental health – a fascinating subject but one that illustrated that talking about depression and its symptoms can make you feel depressed. Could that be the reason? Maybe.
But following the chatting we devised some yoga sequences to combat those symptoms – alternate nostril breathing to induce calm gentle breathing, sun salutations designed to connect you with the earth and raise energy levels, balancing asanas because in a balance you have to still your mind (or you will fall over) and relaxation to open the heart and invite in loving kindness.
Following this I felt amazing – who wouldn’t? If this was all designed to alleviate symptoms of depression (and anxiety) could it have possibly induced those depressed feelings in me the second I stepped through the door?
Well actually it could and as I hypothesised it could all be down to an energy shift. My search for answers lead a piece on why we are overcome with emotions during or after a yoga class on the YogaGlo website and something on contributor had to say rings very true:
Christina Sell: I think emotional release can happen for all kinds of reasons. Most of us modern-day, householder yogis are pretty busy people. Given the amount of stress we are under and the amount of obligations we are managing it is very easy for us to ignore our emotions in the name of “getting things done”, etc. Sometimes our sadness, grief and even anger is underneath the surface of our awareness and yoga is that time when we slow down enough to tune into what is inside.
Another reason has to do with the body-mind-emotion connection where our posture and breath is very linked to our feelings. For instance, when we feel sad, we will tend to droop in our shoulders, cast our eyes downward and drop the top of our chest. This is a posture of sadness, so to speak, and while the posture expresses the feeling of sadness on one level, it does not express the sadness in a way that releases the feeling. When we move our body in the other direction, for instance by bringing the shoulders back, opening the eyes wide and lifting the chest, the opposite postural stance many times creates a release of the feeling.
To state this in a more simple way, asana helps us move stuck energy. Emotions are energy at their most basic level and so as we move, breathe, stretch and strengthen our bodies, our energy channels open and as they open anything that is stuck inside gets liberated and released.
I think the best strategy for dealing with this phenomenon is to be very loving and accepting with ourselves and be really spacious with ourselves as the emotions arise and yet, we do not need to make a huge deal of it either. Emotional release is so natural and it is a very normal part of practice and transformation.
My problem is I’m not very good at allowing the emotional release or being kind to myself. When I am low the bad vrttis take over and convince me keep it all in and do those things that perpetuate the low/depressed/miserable feelings – smoke more, sleep less, eat badly, skip yoga etc.. Or in alternate language you feel crap let your hair down a bit have a beer, it doesn’t matter if its a work night, an hours less sleep won’t hurt, you could just skip yoga in the morning and sleep in… But what I actually need to do is take control of the vrttis, embrace my practice, let it continue to shift the energy, work through those feelings and allow the emotional release.
So with the clock reading 10:25 and a plan for early morning practice tomorrow (that I will not break) I will take control and go to bed…