Sometimes I get totally overwhelmed with backbends. I’m slowly learning not to, but rather to play the edge without tipping over the precipice completely — but still… Recently in a crisis moment I’ve noticed what my body wants to do — to sit up crossed legged with hands palm down on the mat in front of me. Lying down and taking a rest from Salabhasana or whatever just doesn’t do it. I have to have my hands on the mat. Somehow that connection is important and allows me a sense of security. It helps that I’m in a more active position too, in control, rather than lying prone, defenceless. If the threat (whatever it is!) did occur, I could leap up more easily for fight or flight.
And in class the other day I’d got all the way to Savasana without any of this defensiveness kicking in. And yet something didn’t feel right. I felt too open and exposed lying out like that. I wasn’t ready. Short of asking my teacher to do a very inappropriate assist that would involve pinning me to the ground to keep me there, there was no way I was going to stay in this position that should represent calm acceptance and peace. I couldn’t just breathe into it, so I gave up. I rolled over and I took Balasana instead, pressing my palms into the the ground in front of me. Pressing the palms down soon turned into fingers and then fingernails clawing into the rubber of my mat, until I finally made clenched fists and lay there rigidly for a few breaths, squeezing my balled hands tighter and tighter, fingernails into my palms, muscles clenching all the way up my arms into my shoulders and neck…. And then I let go. Then I could soften, allowing my body to release a little into the ground, letting go of the muscle tension and the tight breath and the unaccountable panic. Eventually I sat up into Sukhasana, now enjoying the way my body felt open, and I sighed away whatever this overwhelming fear had been. It was all good. The storm had passed overhead. Sunny Sukhasana, a closing OM, and then I’m stepping away happily into the outside world.
These moments from class come to mind as I struggle to make sense of what we were taught in teacher training about energetics. Starting from the beginning (I’m a logical type!) I’ve been thinking about the notion of ‘grounding’. Build a pose from the ground up, starting with the feet. That’s a good practical bit of advice I’m totally happy with. I get it. I can see how it works in the body. Logical and anatomical. My comfort zone.
But what about the stuff about ‘grounding’ in an emotional or energetic sense? The idea of starting from a place of connected safety. Start low, emphasise the connection of body with mat or ground, establish oneself on the mat, and only then begin to move and begin to lift upwards into standing poses. I’ve been mulling this over. At the time it all felt a bit woo-woo, a bit yoga la-la land. The word ‘energetics’ used to make me laugh. I didn’t get it so I ridiculed and rejected it.
Hmm, now I’m not so sure. Logical brain now sometimes gives way to intuitive brain. I realise more and more there are so many things I can’t see, yet I can perceive; I can’t understand them, but I can sense the inherent right-ness of them if I bother to listen, if I get quiet enough to hear.
Now grounding is becoming one of these things. My body talks most loudly in class, a situation where I’m moving on the teacher’s instruction rather than according to my own intuition. If there’s a discord, it’s obvious. It’s revealing some wisdom to ‘groundedness’ that I couldn’t have imagined. It turns out logic doesn’t have all the answers.
‘Energetics’ has entered my vocabulary.