Fear, Anxiety, and Real Space

I have been friends with Fear and Anxiety for years. We used to do just about everything together. We worked together, hung out on weekends, and I was always giving them rides. They rarely come around anymore, because I know now that you are the company you keep, and I am not interested in the drama.

Lately, though, they have been hanging around in my office, sitting in the two spare chairs. They want their old jobs back.

I don't like them being here. They are mean girls.

And so I go to yoga. But lately, yoga isn't helping as much with my stress level. It is at a dull roar just below the surface. Sometimes, you have to sit with stuff a little bit and learn how to deal with a new layer. That is where I am right now. I know that this period will pass. But in the interim, I can feel the anxiety manifesting itself as stiff muscles, tight quads and hamstrings, and an ever-clenched jaw.

And in my breath. Tight and shallow.

I crave yoga mostly just to focus on that. I go to breathe, and because I know that eventually, my body will find a way to relax. I do sincerely trust the practice.

Today, I detoured from my usual routine and went to Kiki's morning class because I knew that I could swing it with my schedule. And I knew that I needed some real-deal Forrest Yoga in my life.

I hung up from a conference call just steps from the studio door. When we started practice, my head was most certainly somewhere else.

But the room was toasty warm, and I was happy to be in class with several folks that I knew. As we set intent, I repeated over and over: Let it go. Let it go. 

I couldn't get into easy bird because my legs were feeling super tight and shaking when I started to come into full bind. I hate - repeat hate - when I can't get into a pose that I can normally do. It is incredibly frustrating for me. And time after time when it happens - I try to work on patience, focus on not being competitive with myself, and honoring how my body feels on that particular day.

Clearly, I am a work in progress, because today, perceiving this as a failure completely set me off.

I dropped myself out of my attempts at easy-bird and went instead to straight-leg balance. I was sweating profusely and felt my face flush rather quickly as I came up. I was wiping sweat off my cheeks when I realized I was wiping tears too. And then I was full-on crying. And it wasn't one thing - it was the big everything. It was certainly not about easy bird.

It may surprise you, but I am not a big "cry it out at yoga" type. I am more of an intensity junkie. I work the emotions out with a strong physical practice, and let the rest of it dissipate from there. It works for me.

The type-A, professional, I've-got-it-totally-together part of me wanted to run right out of the room.

Luckily, the practice is not really designed to let you do that - because yoga is about meeting your shit right where it is. It involves looking Fear and Anxiety directly in the eyes and asking them to leave.

No one comes over and tries to make it better.  No one stares at you.

But you can feel empathy, and a room full of yogis honoring struggle.

This, dear friends, is real space.

Honest, safe, come-as-you-are space.

That is why you don't run out of the room to put yourself back together.

Putting yourself back together happens inside. 

After about 10 minutes, I was calm again. And I felt better, as if I had taken off a heavy jacket and finally had a little more room to move around.

More room, at the very least, to breathe.