Camel Pose
(Credit Unknown)

So in yoga there’s this pose called Camel Pose. It looks easy enough, but it’s actually super hard. And honestly, it’s more mental than physical. I’m pretty sure every instructor I’ve ever been with during this pose has said something along the lines of, “don’t give in and come out of the pose early; stick with it”. Not coincidence. While your body is probably muttering something like, “this is kind of weird…hmmn” your head is SCREAMING, “STOP THIS MADNESS; RUN LIKE THE WIND BULLSEYE; GET OUT LEST YOU PERISH”. When you’re in Camel, your heart is exposed, your throat is exposed, your hands and feet are cut off from your core, your shoulders and hips are open, you’re helpless. And most people’s brains just literally can’t even. And people who’ve been there and passed that, try to encourage others by telling them that if they don’t run from all those emotions that come bubbling up from the deep recesses that no longer have sturdy walls to hide them from everything, then they’ll make it to the other side -the rainbows and butterflies side-of Camel Pose. But here’s why I’m pretty sure the difficulty is more mental than physical: if you don’t quit the pose, all those feelings are still there waiting for you.

At first I couldn’t even do Camel Pose, tilting my head back was the most I could muster, but then I advanced a little to being able to do a slight backbend with my hands on my lower back. Basically this stage looks like you’re not doing anything at all, but let me tell you that stage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s this panic that creeps over you with each millisecond that passes. You start feeling a little fight or flight, but the panic intensifies so much your brain forgets what fight even means. Then as soon as you come out of the pose there’s a wave of dizziness, along with all the emotions the panic was shielding. I came out of it crying every time I did it. Then I progressed and was able to do a full expression, and still the panic, still the emotions, still some tears. Until one day (and kudos to all the instructors, because they all said this would happen) it WAS rainbows and butterflies. I came out of a full expression feeling invincible, feeling happy, feeling strong. But not because the emotions and panic and vulnerability stopped. Somewhere along the way I became more mentally strong, my heart more open to facing the fear and the rejection and the hurt and the sadness, and once you name your fear, you steal its power. It’s still there, yes, but you can see it for what it is, breathe in its existence, breathe out its importance. It no longer serves you, so you let it go. Until today I have been quite pleased with that progress and those realizations, but tonight we did a partner Camel Pose, and something clicked for me.

In an attempt to make sure we were using core strength and our legs rather than abusing our spine we partnered up, one person practicing Camel, the other supporting. It’s a little weird to have a stranger touch you at all, and to intentionally push your hip bones into their hands seems even weirder, but it wasn’t. It definitely felt better doing the posture correctly, but after completing a full expression and coming out of the pose I realized, it felt better mentally too. Tonight I didn’t experience even one second of panic. Not one second of confusion. Not one second of convincing myself to overcome and reminding myself it’s worth fighting for. Because I was supported; I knew someone was there (literally touching me) and I wasn’t alone. My Enneathought the other day said that I “tend to cope with problems by being competent” and that my message to others is “There are a number of hidden issues here: let me think about it.” And it’s spot on. But it also challenged me to ‘expand my coping skills by expressing my feelings and adopting a positive outlook’. I like living in my head; it’s safe in there. But I have seen and experienced the joy that can come from leaning on others and practicing the same things with a positive community. Every time I go to yoga class I’m reminded to be mindfully meditative about what it is to be part of a gracious and growing community that encourages me to open my heart and live with gratitude, but tonight I got a physical reminder that I need others. And I guess I wanted to share my positive outlook and feelings. LOOK HOW MUCH MY COPING SKILLS ARE GROWING ENNEAGRAM! Life is hard; be kind to yourself. And each other. And also do yoga.

(P.S. this is an old post i never posted [when i figure out what’s wrong with me i’ll let you know], but i still believe in all these words 1 million percent.)