My yoga teacher says that whatever issues you have will show up on the mat when you do postures. It is partly for this reason that I frequently want to kill her. (Of course, I want to kill EVERYONE because I am reactive, unenlightened, have an aversive personality–according to the Buddhists–and am basically a dramatic artist who enjoys swooning over every emotion I feel.) (I long to swoon in yoga teacher training, but then I might fail and yoga teacher training is EXPENSIVE.)
Here’s what shows up on my mat: AVERSION! INNER CONFLICT! And F*&(ING TMS SYNDROME!
Yoga is so peaceful, truly.
(When I do it at home it’s peaceful because I lie on a bolster in several different positions not moving and usually falling asleep. I have become a yoga slacker. This is the result of yoga teacher training, for some reason.)
Anyhow, if I’m talking about satya, or honesty, the second of the yoga yamas (the first is ahimsa, non-violence, and I’ve already written about that, ad infinitum) then I really have an excuse to say that TMS Syndrome is kicking my butt on the mat. (TMS Syndrome’s other name is mindbody syndrome, a term coined by John Sarno. Basically, TMS people like me have no severe anatomical abnormalities, but still experience chronic pain, usually in their backs. I have it in my back, but sometimes also knees, and occasionally shoulders. (You know, I don’t do things in half measures. Probably I have pain in the guy down the street.) Anyhow, the pain, Sarno says, comes from an unconscious process that denies some amount of oxygen to areas of the body to cause physical pain as a distraction from emotional pain like, for example, homicidal rage. (It’s because of Sarno I talk about how homicidal I am all the time.) (Look at me! I’m blaming someone I’ve never even met!)
Anyway, as I practice self-study (also a part of yoga, but really just an excuse to be fascinated with myself), I can’t help but notice how it goes on the mat in yoga teacher training. Here’s how:
It’s Saturday. Usually we do 3-4 hours of yoga in the Saturday practice. So, 2 hours in I start to want it to be over. By 2.5 hours in I REALLY want it to be over. I mean, I start to feel like I’m being tortured. I’m getting angry. But I’ve always been athletic, and as you know if you’ve read my other blogs, I had a football player father who taught me to never be a quitter. Plus, I want to prove I can do anything anyone else can do. (Both of these things are insane, so it’s a good thing I’ve never claimed to be, you know, sane.) At the same time, I want to practice ahimsa, not only because that’s what yoga is REALLY about, but because it’s the kind thing to do for myself, and though I am insane, I hate being unkind to myself. So basically, during yoga teacher training, the inside of my head is like World War 3. Right around the 2.5 hour mark, as we approach inversions (which I love because going upside down is really fun), and I realize I’m too blasted tired and whacked to do inversions, the inner conflict reaches its zenith and WHAM! BACK PAIN!
It’s only because you’re not allowed to talk during yoga practice that I’m arguing with myself and noticing all this stuff. And it has become glaringly obvious that when I want to be kind to myself and there’s pressure to do something else (perceived or real pressure, mind you), all this tension builds inside of me and then it goes into my back.
And get this: when I figured all this out and really took breaks and gave up being Ms. Middle Aged Cool Yoga Girl, I didn’t have any back pain AT ALL.
I guess John Sarno is right.
So in my fascination with myself, I’m now on the hunt for my moments of intense inner conflict and tension, trying to notice them, trying to just stop, breathe, sense into my body. Yoga teacher training is prime fodder for this practice. As is any time I’m trying to act like a mature adult and not jump on my partner’s lap (a struggle I always lose, but here’s hoping).
Anyhow, crazy or not, my need for gentleness and kindness, from myself, first and above all, would be legend if anyone knew about it.
Oh, I guess you now do.
Though money would be better.