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What Yoga Taught Me About My ‘Torture Chamber’ Body

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My muscles are heavy and toxic; my nerves sharply vibrating on edge. The weight of the pain and fatigue dragging me down far below the surface. My chaotic mind struggling beneath the trauma as I force myself to step onto the mat stretched before me.

I feel the rubber beneath my bare feet. I wiggle my toes before rooting them into the clammy surface. I stand up straight, feeling my spine grow longer, my ribs lift and my shoulders pull back. My hands dangle at my sides as I turn my palms to face forward, stretching my fingers outward.

I close my eyes and drop down into my body, feeling each muscle and every nerve. I meticulously tune into each part: my legs, abdomen, arms and neck. I imagine all the nerves in my body connecting and the energy outside of me coming in through my palms. My breathing slows. My muscles relax. My mind calms.

As I begin the movements — slow and intentional — I feel a releasing in my muscles, stretched and elongated until each nerve in my body yawns awake. I feel the energy moving within me, and without. I feel the stillness within me, and without. I am connected. My mind eases where there was once chaos and my body becomes strong where it was once weak.

I used to hate this body. I felt such anger at its limitations. I felt resentful for the way it made me feel. You see, my body had become a torture chamber, ripped to pieces by an illness of genetic haplotypes and biotoxic invaders. This body was no longer safe to live in, and I would never forgive its betrayal.

Until I stepped on that mat.

On this mat, I have learned it is OK to feel anger and resentment. I am allowed to hold bitterness without becoming it. I have learned to accept whatever emotions I may feel without judgment, and without being consumed by their intensity.

On this mat, I have learned to let go of expectations and attachments. Of should-haves and if-onlys. I have learned to settle into the discomfort, to no longer fight it but instead to allow the pain the room it needs. I listen to my body with empathy and respond with compassion.

On this mat, I have learned to see my body in a new, empowering light. This body is strong. It is powerful, resilient and unstoppable. It is capable. It has gotten me through hell, and it is now getting me through the journey back. No longer wishing it were different or better, this body is enough. And I am consciously choosing to trust it again.

They say yoga is coming home to ourselves, and that is exactly where I find my Self: Home. Safe. I am slowly rebuilding everything I thought was lost forever. I can feel a shifting gently bringing my pieces back to me. I recognize a familiar voice once again. No longer disjointed, but whole and complete.

Some days, it’s harder to drag this tired body to the mat, but I am grateful for each opportunity to practice. To listen. To transform. Because where there was once drowning, I am now learning how to fly.

Image via contributor.

Originally published: August 9, 2019
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