writing down the sun

why can’t this happen to me on the mat?

Posted in on the mat by annie on April 26, 2008

So this landed in my email inbox this AM, courtesy Yoga Journal:

You reach up and back, your chest opening into a supported backbend. Then, suddenly, you’re in tears. How did you move from serenity to intensity in just one moment?

“The holistic system of yoga was designed so that these emotional breakthroughs can occur safely,” says Joan Shivarpita Harrigan, Ph.D., a psychologist and the director of Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care … People enter into the practice of yoga asana for physical fitness or physical health, or even because they’ve heard it’s good for relaxation, but ultimately the purpose of yoga practice is spiritual development.”

This development depends on breaking through places in the subtle body that are blocked with unresolved issues and energy. … And since that means working with emotions, emotional breakthroughs can be seen as markers of progress on the road to personal and spiritual growth.

I plead guilty as charged; I totally do yoga just for the physical benefits. But I’m not anti-spiritual development. I meditate; I pray (in a fashion); I even have spiritual practices I (try to) engage in regularly. I’ve been “doing yoga” for years now.

So how come I’ve never had one of these fabulous oft-touted emotional breakthroughs on the mat?

It sounds fabulous, really. I’m not being facetious. I really would like to have some manifestation of growth, some symbol of growth. I guess I’m saying yes, I’d really like to break down in tears on my yoga mat, just once.

But it’s like the mythical blue pearl, that “Holy Grail” of meditators who’ve theoretically achieved some level of enlightenment. Or the awakening of kundalini energy, likened to an “energy snake” that starts coiling up your spine. (Lovely image, that.) Haven’t had those experiences, either. They happen when (if) they happen and not a minute before, I am told. There is little, if anything, that one can do to coax the blue pearl, or the energy snake — or the tears — into being.

I would think that feeling as I do — a little whiny, to be honest, a little “why not me?!” — is probably counterproductive.