Monday, April 22, 2013

Grief, Joy, Rest

I'm learning yoga nidra. This is the yoga of deep relaxation and complete self-acceptance - the exact
opposite of throwing your body into extreme poses - as "yoga" so often means in the US. Yoga nidra is deeply relaxing. Yet like meditation, the practice brings increased wakefulness and awareness through greater presence to the whole truth of your experience.

In order to accept yourself you have to be present to yourself. You have to let yourself feel.

The version of yoga nidra I'm learning is called Integrative Restoration or iRest. It relies on body sensing and includes the practice of experiencing opposites as they show up in your body: opposite physical sensations, opposite emotions, opposite messages about yourself.

I've found this practice really illuminating, especially when overwhelmed by one or another difficult emotion like, say, grief. Flooded by intense grief, my body wants to hunch over with shoulders curled in and head drawn down. Feeling joy, my head lifts, chest expands, and heart opens.

The cat yoga pose has the drawn in quality of grief while the cow pose has the opened up quality of joy. I was already doing the cat/cow progression regularly as it is great for low back pain, increasing flow and movement in the lower spine. You don't even have to get on your hands and knees, but can do a version standing or sitting in your office chair.

Prompted by my yoga nidra practice, I began to go through the poses while feeling the opposite emotions: cat/grief and cow/joy, cat/grief and cow/joy. I let myself fully feel each emotion while expressing how it showed up in my body. Some minutes into this practice and I would be able to be fully present to both feelings at the same time. Amazingly, the emotions then began to balance. Neither was as intense as before and I arrived at a state of rest. I didn't need to suppress the difficult emotions, deny them, or distract myself from them. I found rest while still feeling the feelings.

How amazing. Joy plus grief equals rest.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

No comments:

Post a Comment