Yoga is about connection. Literally, it comes from the root yuj, which mean to join or yoke. In it’s most basic sense the joining of mind, body and soul. It’s getting quiet and finding balance and wholeness and feeling connected within the self.
Yoga is also about feeling connection with the outside world. It’s about awareness of your place in the universe, consistently feeling empathy and compassion. Years ago I taught a restorative yoga class with my teacher and as the students lay in a relaxing, calming pose eyes closed she asked “aren’t they just angels?” And they were. With all their drama/pains/regular lives/crankiness\demands/fears, at that moment they were angels. It wasn’t because of anything they were doing. It was because of me. Because when I teach I can let go of ego and let the yoga do the work and I feel open and loving and connected.
Today I read “Once you experience connection you are in the state of yoga, a balanced, blissful and life affirming state of being.” And I should say first that I’m in kinda of a mood today. I’m feeling a little skeptical and a little cynical. Outside of that, though, this quote made me snort.
So, I removed my weird mood and thought about that seriously and with an open, honest heart and it still made me snort. Of course sometimes there is a blissful feeling. Sometimes feeling connected is the best feeling in the world. For me as a teacher it makes me feel purpose and it makes me happy for what I do. Not only do I heal people physically, but perhaps more often and perhaps more importantly I heal them emotionally. Well, I don’t. The yoga does.
More often than feeling that the connection is blissful and inspiring feeling connected for me is scary. Being open and vulnerable is terrifying.
The day we brought our daughter home was such an overwhelming day. For months I’d seen my doctor almost every week cause I kept going into pre-term labor and I’d finally completed my job. I’d grown a whole human being and delivered her healthfully and presented her to the world. When her tiny pink coned-shaped head lifted off my chest as she looked around the delivery room I felt completely in awe. She was just minutes old and she was so strong and independent. And I loved her so much. No one tells you the feeling of connection you’ll have once she’s there. She’d been inside me and she was a part of me and I knew her. She looked in my eyes and it felt like we were still one. There was an immediate recognition for me. This is me and this is her, but it’s still me. Then two days later they wheeled me out of the hospital and slammed the car door shut behind me and I was terrified. The person I’d been connected to for ten months was in the seat behind me and she was completely vulnerable and open and needy-and I had a lot of hormones coursing through me so I felt exactly the same. It was a strange new feeling and it was really, really uncomfortable.
Connection is scary and at the same time it’s exhilarating.
I married my college sweetheart and back then it was completely thrilling. I was 21 and too stupid to be scared. I had these twinges of what if this isn’t the right thing, but I believed as the young do, that everything would be wonderful and our love was touched by goddesses. I was oblivious to how this was going to shape the rest of my life. Now 23 years later falling in love again is terrifying. It’s perhaps the scariest thing I’ve done. I’m so different this time. I know about all the pitfalls and quagmires of life now. i know that relationships are work and that love is hard. I struggle to stay open and vulnerable and to love deeply while still keeping my sanity. I get a little squirrely from time to time because my mind has a hard time wrapping itself around my incredible good fortune and intense happiness.
While I’m terrified so often by connection I honestly believe that connected is the way I’d like to live my life. I value my teaching time, my time with good friends, my time with my kids and with my love so much more than I did 20 years ago. I want everything that comes with being open and vulnerable and deeply in love.
Yet, there are times when feeling connected can be difficult-for all of us. The easiest, fastest way for me to connect is to, of course, spend time on the mat. Then I am open in the true sense and not just to my inner circle.
When I struggle with being open I practice heart openers like the one pictured. I rest, breathing deeply in this pose for awhile and remind myself that while connection is scary it’s worth it. It’s why I’m here.