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Heart to Heart

The Healing Potential of Yoga During Challenging Times

Written by SYJ teacher Charlotte Rose Pecquex

Dear yogis,

As I watched the news this past week, my heart hurt for our country. It was not that this civil unrest was unexpected, but rather the immense harm that was done in the process.

It was the fear, the injustice, the hypocrisy, the pain.

It hurt my heart to see the faces of my high school students, coming of age in a country so drastically divided, grappling with what news to believe, how to speak their truths, and how to love their neighbors despite their differing politics.

It would be an understatement to say that these are challenging times for everybody. We have witnessed more fear, suffering, isolation, injustice, and systemic racism in a single year than many of us have faced in our lifetime.

And yet, we still show up. How incredibly brave we must be to continue to hope, to continue to persevere.

Take a moment and breathe: how many times in your life, despite hellfire and brimstone, have you just shown up?

Can you feel the courage that emanates through your whole body? Can you feel that deep well of inner strength that you have within you?

There have been many moments in my life where I have found myself heavy hearted, unrolling my mat as if a sacred form of prayer. Last Wednesday was one of them.

The four corners of my mat have seen pools of tears, heartbreak, and righteous Kali-like anger. They have held me when I am tired, they have encouraged me to fly, and they have held space for me when I have had nowhere else to turn.

They are a persistent reminder of my own inner and outer strength. They are a place to go. They are sacred space.

No matter what challenges you may be facing in your life, yoga gifts us the ability to hold space for ourselves.

That silly thin rubber mat you practice on is, as David Whyte might say, “your dream ladder to divinity.”

Yoga teaches us that the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the act of arrival. I don’t mean any fancy red carpet type of arrival, but rather the simple act of arriving in ourselves. It is the moment that you unfurl, both your mat and in yourself. It is your first exhale when you sit down for centering. It is the moment in class where you find yourself lost in the movement of your body; that you drop in.

It is the moment that you find yourself bringing your yoga off the mat and into the world.

The beauty of yoga, you see, is that it is by nature a healing practice. So many of us live our lives without ever seeing the powerful connection between our body, mind, and spirit. Our society still lives by the dualistic notion that body and mind are separate.

Any of us who have ever shown up to our mats after a particularly grueling day (or year) can attest to the ways that we feel that emotion move through our bodies as we practice.

The old yoga wives’ tales are that we hold our stories in our hips and stress in our shoulders are not untrue. Our bodies are brilliant beings and vessels that help us process what we face day-to-day.

Yoga accepts us just as we are, no matter how we show up. We leave our mats a little bit lighter, and a whole lot wiser.

We leave transformed by our own ability to show up and to step into our own embodiment.

Those of you who have been practicing for a long time know that your yoga practice changes shape with the cycle of life that you are currently going through. Sometimes it is the on-the-mat yoga that you need, and sometimes it is the living-act of yoga that you need to share with the world to feel empowered.

Whether on or off the mat, we allow this practice to transform us, and with that our practice transforms.

But it starts with one moment in time where we decide to unroll our mats despite the hellfire and brimstone outside our doors. Where we arrive. Where we let the emotion move through us. Where we show up. No matter what. For ourselves. For the greater good of the world.

So unroll your mats, and together we unfurl. Through thick and thin, near and far, we show up together in community and we persevere.

With love and light,

Charlotte


Deepen your practice

One Response

  1. Amy Browning January 12, 2021 2:13 pmReply

    Dear Charlotte,

    Thank you. It is one thing to have such beautiful insights, another to compose them and still another to send them out into our very needy world, as you have done. You remind me that “no man is an island”
    And…
    You make a difference.

    Amy

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