Monday, February 21, 2011

the story of my heart

if you've done bikram yoga before, you'll recognize the line 'like a flower petal blooming' from the dialogue spoken in half-moon posture.  it's a bit of encouragement to unfold and open the shoulders and chest.  i have to repeat it to myself in all postures that require me to open and expose my heart:  half-moon, standing bow, camel.

a few years back i was on vacation and chatting up a woman in a little shop.  she was looking at me funny and asked if she could make an observation.  she said that i confused her because my eyes and face and smile and voice were so vibrant and yet i kept my arms folded over my chest and my shoulders folded in.  she told me i looked like i was protecting a wounded child in my arms but acting as if i didn't want anyone to know.  her statement stopped me cold.

several weeks after this, i made my own observation in a yoga class that every time i went into any kind of backbend, i felt nauseous and had to fold forward immediately.  i asked my teacher about this and she said simply, "your heart is defended."

shortly after that, in the woods of new hampshire, i sat by the fire in one of jen lee's story workshops, surrounded by loving and trustworthy souls, and was amazed at the power of my defended heart.  i had so many words held captive inside, it was literally impossible to speak them.  they stayed where they were, safe and unspoken, hidden behind my smile.

it was after that when i made the commitment to be more brave with love and trust.  it has been a slow journey, risky baby steps all the way.  i still hear a voice that tells me to stop and shield, but many times i push through that with trust.

bikram yoga has presented new challenges to me with regards to opening my heart.  each time i try to get into camel, i feel that old nausea and dizziness set in.  this is my body's cue to stop and protect.  each time i push a little further and find a little more courage to open and expose, risking the release of those things held tight for so many years.  i can be a warrior, a hero, a flower petal blooming.