I awake feeling lonelier than usual. I haven’t had any physical contact with a human for seven days. I haven’t touched anyone, and no one has touched me. My social media feed is full of anxiety and fear.
I realize that I am feeling anger, which is my way of warding off vulnerability. I hate being vulnerable, and I wish to be brave enough to have someone who will hold space for me to do what it is that I hate.
It’s drizzling outside, which is usually my favourite kind of day. I don’t really want to get out, but also see that if I’m going to get any air, I need to do it before the rain ramps up. I’m also attracted to the fact that the streets are empty and despite my loneliness, the vacancy inviting me outside is comforting.
The walk helps, but not much.
I don’t feel like doing yoga today, but my body hurts from inactivity. My mind hurts from over-activity. I roll out my mat so I can just lay around and do some passive stretching, and suddenly I am compelled to do 108 sunsalutations. It’s been more than five years since I have engaged in the repetition of movement and breath that is 108. The urge is so strong that I don’t even really consider it, I’m already in the flow before the reality lands.
I have been avoiding deep practice for the past few weeks, not sure why, but sometimes it’s just like that. The depth of the breath feels amazing, and I am hoping it will pull me into the present moment.
It doesn’t take long for my body to tell me just how far away my last 108 was. My muscles are burning with the demand, and the internal friction is intensifying. My mind is simultaneously raging and delighting in the forced tapas, and I haven’t even completed the first 25.
What strikes me the most, is that the combined calm of the breath and fire in my body, are not enough to shut off my mind. I am analyzing the reasons I am both triggered and shut down by the panic around me. I am panicking too, but I prefer to do it quietly. I was conditioned to emote in private.
Huh. This is a revelation.
I feel anger that I have not let anyone in, and because of that, I am in isolation by myself. It doesn’t make sense to me that I am isolating further by barely responding to calls or texts. I know people love me and support me, but I feel better if I don’t have to be vulnerable to it. I want to be left alone.
Around the halfway mark, the heat inside is beading up on my skin. I haven’t broken a sweat through my practice in a very long time, and it feels good. My body really hurts, and each forward fold is bringing a sensation that I scarcely remember from a previous time. I think it’s been well over a decade since I have felt this kind of challenge through movement. It’s grounding me in a physical sense, exactly how I hoped it would, but I do not like it one bit.
My mind eventually wanders away from self-analysis, and into the wonders of the human body. My breath feels so deep, I am certain it is reaching the deepest alveoli -oxygen exchange centres of my lungs- cleaning out a stagnancy that has been there for probably years. The increase of systemic circulation, called upon by my burning legs, is pushing congestion toward the exits of my skin, kidneys and exhale. Stress hormones are releasing in a therapeutically effective way. Floyd hasn’t budged from the ottoman in front of me.
The 108th repetition is unceremonious, and I find my way to savasana as matter-of-factly as I took up the first salutation 90 minutes prior. I feel grounded for the fist time in weeks.
For my second outing of the day, I’m in the drugstore, grateful that the shelf with Epsom salts is not empty. There are red duct tape markers on the floor telling me where to stand as I wait in line to pay, so I opt for the self-check out as a way to continue avoiding the personal contact I so desperately desire.
My bath is delicious. I lay flat in the tub with my legs crossed so I can immerse my head up to corners of my eyes, nose and mouth. If you know me, you know I’m listening to the melancholic tones of Pink Floyd through the muffling of the water around my ears. I continue to lay just like this, and pull out the drain stopper with my toes, to feel the water pull at my skin on its way down the drain. I have never noticed this sensation before; the weight of my body seems to have doubled with the water’s increased gravity, and there is an emotional grounding accompanying the physical sensation.
The lightness left behind by the physical intensity of the day is short-lived, but I am encouraged by the instant response of my body.
I have been through worse than this. I bet you have too.