I’m taking a 5-week course called Trauma-sensitive Yoga for Depression and Anxiety at my favourite Vancouver studio, Ocean and Crow. This is a weekly record of my unraveling … and hopefully my knitting back together.
In our first class, we learn that every emotion has a corresponding sensation in the body. Conversely, every bodily sensation triggers an emotion.
Really? That on-and-off pain in my shoulder blade, my weird ankles? Everything? This teacher, an expert in yoga therapy for trauma, suggests I make this my homework for the week, noticing the emotions that arise from bodily feelings.
After years of therapy through a wonderful naturopath, I’m accustomed to scanning my body to see where fear or anger has settled.
‘Yes, that’s the story,” Naturopath would say impatiently to my he-said-I-said accounts. “Where are you feeling it?”
I would close my eyes, and try to pay attention to that inner place, fluttering my hands around vaguely at my throat or my gut, or tracing a sharp line straight down through my central axis, jaw to pelvis. After a few sessions, I started to expect this question and got better at locating it, less annoyed at her for cutting me off mid-tale.
After class, I race back to the school to pick up my older son. On the playground, I feel open and calm but also vulnerable. The other mothers are gathered in groups around the edges, gossiping and laughing. Everyone looks nice. Some I know from our street. Some I’ve just met here. I’m not part of any particular group, and I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to be, or because I’m afraid.
How I feel is self-conscious. Where I feel it is everywhere. Maybe the emotion is in my lymph or my skin.
The longer I stand on the playground, feeling my feelings, the more distressed I feel about looking like an obvious non-joiner. I try to look involved with my kindergartner and my toddler, tossing out some random small talk when possible then dashing off like I don’t have time for more.
I still can locate the feeling anywhere specific. Nothing is clear except the fact that the heavy sinking feeling I have emotionally is getting more and more physical. After supper, I have to lie down on the bed staring into space. The kids ask me for tickles, but I can only do cuddles. Toddler brings me stuffies, and keeps bringing Daddy in to “see something.”
After the kids are asleep, I try to do my daily meditation. This should be really good since I have all this yoga stuff from the day. But I can’t do it now. My body feels so heavy. When I sit on my cushion and close my eyes that heavy flatness comes circling around. It’s so scary and cruel that I can’t look at it dispassionately, can’t bear to meditate at all.
The next morning, I sit in my pajamas drinking coffee while the kids watch cartoons. I do not want to make my son’s lunch and shout enough to get everyone into their shoes and out the door on time. We cancel school and head to the beach.