The trauma you bring to the mat

I had practiced before my first vinyasa in years.  The practice was so that my body remembered what it was like to be in down dog, adho mukha śvānāsana. For a bit, it felt strange even though I knew I was doing it right. The form was correct and yet it took a while for my body to readjust to it when I returned to the practice.

Returning to the practice. I had left yoga in 2015 after a traumatizing event. I did one practice at a Houston studio in 2016 and then never went back. Until now.

I don’t know what I went back to yoga. My logical brain said it was a way to deal with my depression, to quench my anxiety. But I know better and know my brain doesn’t speak unless my heart wants it. Yes, I wanted to come back to the practice. Maybe as something to do during the summer time but I needed to return. So I did.

But during a recent practice at a yoga event, I came face to face with a realization that I, me, this version of my body and brain, was a different person than the one who left it.

During the Melanin Yoga Project’s Carribean Night Rooftop Yoga, down dog felt heavy. I could not hold myself up.

I could not hold myself up.

While the old me would fight my way through it, knowing that this was part of the practice, to push past the discomfort and to take it as a life lesson, I just didn’t…

I didn’t fight through it. I couldn’t keep myself up. I couldn’t balance. I couldn’t do so many things that were easier for me then and I had fought through to learn and practice.

Reflecting back, was I afraid? Maybe.

I was afraid to come to that discomfort, look it in the eye and breathe through it. What a metaphor for life,  I didn’t breathe through it and so I retreated from it, took my defeat in a way.

I know now that that’s the trauma that has followed me to the mat. The trauma, the residue from a dark time in my life. And while I feel amazing and don’t think like I use to, the fear of it is still with me. It’s in my arms when I do down dog, how something that was once so natural felt so odd now. How I found it difficult to hold myself up when I’ve had to retreat from parts of the world as a form of self-care care.

And knowing this, accepting them, reflecting is also self-care. Knowing that this trauma continues to follow me, even in a space I find so scarred — my mat. It doesn’t go away but it lessens.

But I guess that also comes with practice.


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