Dissociated, messy yoga practice

(Tuesday’s trauma yoga session)

I haven’t slept more than six hours in the last three days. I’m exhausted. And yet, I drive to yoga anyway. I don’t want to cancel. In a lot of ways, I really need Kris’s grounding presence right now.

I’m a few minutes early, so I take a seat in the waiting area. I check my emails, and contemplate writing in my journal, but Kris walks out just as I’m pulling out my iPad.

“Hi,” she greets me. She’s smiling, and so serene. I breathe a little sigh of relief.

I follow her back, and we sit on our mats. She goes through the process of checking in with me. I try to act like everything is fine, but I’m failing miserably. Eventually I admit that I haven’t slept, and that everything is a mess, and Bea is out of town which is making it all worse.

“Mmmhmm. That all can be really tough. When was the last time you slept?” She asks. She looks slightly concerned.

“Last night I fell asleep at 7, and I woke up a little after 9.” Just thinking about waking up from the dream I’d had, I start shaking and things become hazy and I’m light headed.

“Did you fall back asleep?” She asks.

“No…I just…no.” I’m sitting with my knees to my chest, curled into myself. I know I have dark circles under my eyes, and that my eyes looks puffy and red. I know I look like crap.

“Is there anything your body is wanting to do today?” She asks.

I groan. I hate this question. I never have an answer. Well, today, I have an answer, but it’s not one I will ever give; my body wants to curl up and hide. I want to be in my closet, hidden and small, where no one can find me. I shake my head at her.

“That will be my last question for a while, I promise.” Kris is just calm, waiting for me to think. “Take a minute, check in with yourself.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know. What do you want to do?” I finally say.

“Nope, no sorry.” She smiles at me. “I’m up for anything. Let me think for a minute, feel into this.” She says softly.

I nod, and I sit, curled up and breathing. I’m less gone than I was. What is it about Kris that makes her presence so grounding? She feels very transparent to me, very here and present, and like she accepts anything; I have a feeling that she is one of those people who accept mistakes as learning experiences, who doesn’t judge or condemn others.

“Okay. Let’s sit in our hero pose, and take some breaths. If it’s available to you, breathe in, and try to extend the out breath. It’s a simple thing we can do to help calm our nervous system.” She breathes, in and extending the out breath.

I try to follow her. It’s so triggering for me, so frustrating to have some thing as silly as breathing be a trigger. Kris talks me through it, and I mange to continue breathing. Eventually, the trigger feeling passes, and I can breathe easier. I can feel my body calming.

Kris leads us through a series of lunges, and backbends, and gentle stretches. My body is stiff and sore, not sleeping screws everything up. I run into quite a few triggers, as I try to focus on feeling what is happening in my body.

“If you can, don’t forget your breathing. What’s coming up for you?” Kris asks, each time I’m slightly triggered by what I feel in my body, and things start to go fuzzy. It’s like she has this sixth sense to recognize when I’m going away.

I shake my head. “I don’t know.” In actuality, I do know. Any pose that stretches my hips, or inner thighs feels wrong, exposing, too much. I’m not sure why. But that stretch, combined with all the flashbacks and overwhelm I’ve been faced with, sends me into body memory hell.

Kris pulls us out of the hip stretches quickly, and goes into cobra. A backbend, but lying on your stomach. That’s okay. I can do this, and I love backbends, my body naturally does them easily. I feel like control is returned to me, and the rest of the session Kris focuses on simple stretches and backbends, no more lunges or hip stretches.

At one point, I become very aware of my body, very connected without thinking about it or trying. For a moment, I’m in awe; is this what most people feel everyday? To not be in my head all the time, to not have to focus on being very present and connected. Is this it, is this what I’m striving for? And then, the physical memory washes over me, and a few tears leak out.

Kris reminds me to breathe, and and takes us from downward dog into child’s pose. I still can’t place my head on the floor, I need to keep an eye on my surroundings. But then, Kris suggests I can lay my head down and turn it to the side. I do, and it’s okay. I curl up in child’s pose, and breathe with Kris. I focus on her calm, and the kind of aura she projects of being strong and accepting and peaceful. The feeling of being out of control and scared passes. The physical feelings pass, too. The whole time, Kris is talking softly about how strong I am, how I am okay, how I am safe.

I don’t know how long I stay in child’s pose, but after, we wrap up and Kris thanks me for coming to yoga today. She sounds so sincere. I have a hard time accepting that, and so I make a joke that I was able to provide some entertainment and laughs, because in my over tired state even simple things like left and right become difficult.

Kris shakes her head at me. “No, I’m not laughing at you. I’m glad you, just you, yourself, came to practice today. It was a good practice with you. So thank you.”

I nod. “Okay. But I was joking…and you have to admit, I did make you laugh a few times.”

“Yes, you did make me laugh. Laughter is good for us, we don’t need to be so serious all the time.”

We talk for a few minutes, and I end up spilling the story about Kat.

“Thank you for sharing that with me, for trusting me. It sounds really difficult, but I also believe you are handling it extremely well.” Kris says softly.

“Thank you,” I say. We talk a bit more, and she reassures me that I’m doing okay, that I’m not screwing things up.

When I leave, I feel more connected than I have for a few days, and a little bit safer. I tell myself I only need to hold onto this feeling for the rest of today and Wednesday. Then, Bea will be back.