Apr 132011

I still remember my first yoga class.  Well, it wasn’t actually my very first class.  The very first one was at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey in 1977.  I had been a regular meditator for about 2 years and wanted to try out this new funky thing called yoga.  I signed up for a semester and went to a handful of classes before dropping out.  The only pose I remember doing in that class is Halasana (plow), because I remember looking around and seeing everybody’s butts up in the air.   Well, yoga wasn’t for me then.  I was a runner and very competitive, and I guess that particular class was very gentle.  I wanted more.  So I forgot about yoga and went back to running, doing nautilus, playing tennis, and taking high-impact aerobic classes (which I would ride my bicycle to over in the next town and yes, it was 5 miles uphill).

Fast forward 20 years.  It’s 1997 and I’m no longer running (I hated it every time I went out there) or doing aerobics (it faded into the past along with the 1980’s).  I had recently gotten married and immediately knew it was a mistake.  Actually, the red flags were waving high and bright before the wedding, but I later came to realize that when you want something badly enough, you can easily ignore the warning signs.  I was a very angry person then, and at times I acted out in fits of pure, primal rage.  Of course, this anger had been brewing over the years, it was nothing new and certainly not caused solely by a bad marriage.  One time years before, a boyfriend picked me up by my belt loops and threw me out the door into a rainy night after watching me throw a glass across the room, barely missing my baby.  But sadly, that was who I was.  An Angry Woman.

Back to 1997.  A yoga studio had opened up in my town and I decided to revisit the notion of trying it out.  I needed an outlet for my sadness and frustration and wondered if yoga would help.  Truth be told, I still had a competitive edge and knew that Madonna practiced yoga (she had great biceps!), and I thought maybe it could make me look buff.  (Aside–I later met the physician who shared a practice with her physician, and he told me her biceps were cosmetic implants.  Folklore?  Maybe).

My first class was a 90-minute intermediate Iyengar class.  I didn’t know how to breathe; in fact, I didn’t know that I didn’t know how to breathe.  I had no strength.  My hands didn’t come close to the floor in a forward fold.  Chaturanga?  Forget about it, my body felt glued to the floor.  Down Dog?  My arms quivered and my legs wouldn’t straighten.  Core work?  I thought I was going to vomit.  But the most amazing thing was that when I went home later, my anger wasn’t with me.  The stress I constantly felt when I walked into my house just wasn’t there that day.  So I went back for another class.  Then another.  I soon realized that the motivation that brought me to the mat was so different than what kept me returning to it.

Over time and as I became more familiar with the aspects of yoga that talk about “the witness”, “being mindful,” and “letting go,” these all became tools I could draw upon to stay calm at home.  And I didn’t have to try very hard, it was just there inside me.  I could look at my husband, watch his anger, his self-imposed misery, and his attempts to draw me into it with him, and remove myself from his craziness.  I didn’t have to engage.  I could actually feel compassion and love towards this person and keep myself whole in the process.   Several years and much soul-searching later, I divorced, de-toxified my home, got all new furniture, and met the real man of my dreams.  And I am ever grateful for my yoga practice–with its wisdom, compassion, and teachings–to guide me through those very difficult times and out the other side. I can truly say that yoga is the glue that holds me together.



  One Response to “In The Beginning, There Was The Anger”

  1. Exertmely helpful article, please write more.

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