Yoga makes me angry.

I don’t do yoga often and when I do, I usually get mad. This has happened on and off since I was introduced to my first sun salutation as a freshman in college. I’ve seen in meditation how my anger is often a cover-up for grief, sadness, and disappointment. It’s easier for me to feel angry than to feel hurt. It is somehow less vulnerable. But despite all my insights, yoga still vexes me.

So, in line with my new years resolution to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, I bought a pass for a half a dozen yoga classes in the neighborhood. Fast forward to yesterday’s class.

About five minutes into the class, it hit. The room was hot. Crowded. The pose was uncomfortable. Agitation. Anger. Fury.

No insights.

The class continued for me, a mix of sweat, profanity, struggle, and flow.

Mid-way through class, the instructor suggested
not wiping the sweat away. That the sweat was a part of us and to accept it as part of the practice. Somehow, that statement was profound. I realized, in that moment, I was harboring self-judgement. I felt a betrayal by the inflexibility of my body, by the lack of grace I felt, by the rigidity with which I held myself. I felt a betrayal even with my own sweat. Here was a place where I did not love or accept myself.

As I opened to this feeling, the anger dissolved into grief. Grief for how I’ve punished myself and perceived my body as my enemy, rather than my home. The pain of silently battering myself for having an inadequate, less than yoga-perfect body.

In feeling the grief, something let go.

I arrived home lighter and more joyful. I danced and laughed with the kids all morning. I flirted with my husband. I’ll get angry again, I’m sure. But the truth is, I can only feel as much joy as I allow myself to feel grief. It is in opening to whatever emotion is coming, and not hiding from it, that I will find my peace. Maybe even with yoga.