What Was Hidden is Revealed

It’s not unusual for my classes to end with one or two students in tears.  Sometimes the tears start before the class does!  I sometimes remind my students that I am not a nice teacher, neither am I a drill sergeant.  Yoga, properly taught and practiced, requires you to face everything you have hidden away.  Fears, trauma, insecurity, prejudice, grief, pain, sooner or later it all comes out.  A nice teacher does not ask such difficult things of his students.

Some of us struggle to keep all we have experienced bottled up inside us.  As soon as we have a moment of stillness, the walls drop and what we have buried bubbles up.  When we first experience this, it is uncomfortable and even disconcerting.  Some of us aren’t willing to experience it.  We fight to maintain our composure and keep everything locked inside.  Others of us leave the room and never return.  There is nothing wrong with either reaction.  Not everyone is ready for that kind of heavy lifting.  When they are, they’ll be back.

Why would anyone do that to themselves, especially in a public class and among strangers?  The answer is simple.  When we let these things go, we are free.  We don’t haveGrandpa Ormond Christmas 1980 to hide them.  We don’t have to carry them with us wherever we go.  That freedom is why students come back.  That is why we welcome these cathartic moments when they arrive.

After I returned from Community Yoga on Saturday, I took a moment to check Facebook.  The first post was from my cousin, Angela.  She had shared two pictures of our Grandpa Ormond from Christmas Day in 1980.  Thoughts flooded my mind.  The first was that three weeks after the photos, on the 13th of January, my grandpa ended his own life.

A surge of emotion rushed through me.  I was nine years old at the time and I felt confused by the anger and pain that surrounded his death.  For years and years, he was never mentioned and memories of him were not shared.

Grandpa Ormond Christmas 1980 - 2I recognized the shirt he wore in the pictures.  I had worn it for years.  As I thought of why I had worn that shirt for so many years—long enough that all my children recognize it—the grief that I had not allowed myself to feel poured over me.  Tears streamed down my face and my body shook while I wept openly at our kitchen table.  The grief that I buried years ago was finally free.  Almost immediately, I felt a euphoric ease that I continued to experience more than 24 hours later.

Despite what popular culture might say, yoga is not about a skinnier, younger looking version of you.  Yoga is about you being free from all that is not you.

Jai Bhagwan