Root to Rise: Trauma and Yoga
I am a Yoga Girl. Yoga is a practice of strength, balance and vitality. The Yoga Girl community exemplifies these traits completely. In a world where the individual is seen as most important, the Yoga Girl community stands as a place of connection and hope. In my darkest hour I stumbled into a community that met me where I was. Again and again my practice and community caught me.
Trauma is my heart’s sister. Trauma is the child inside of my heart creating a space in the closet to hide. Trauma is the young adult inside of my heart unable to open the door to my apartment because “out there things can happen and frequently do” but there’s no telling what kinds of things. Trauma beats in my blood, an extra blood cell that informs how I exist in this world.
Yoga is my heart’s sister. Yoga is the practice that grounds me into my body. Yoga is the child in me held. Yoga is a space inside to feel my feelings, even those that frighten and overwhelm. Yoga is a place to shift into bravery, a place to root and a place to rise.
My Mom passed away seven months ago. She was beautiful, vivacious, warm, loud, and boisterous. She also had a neurological condition that doctors over-medicated. Upon trying to quit these medications she suffered from a psychotic break. She was in constant unbearable pain. One day she was texting me asking how I was and the next she was gone. One day she was there and the next she was in a box so small.
In one instant everything that I believed about myself and about the world around me came unravelled. Every part of who I was tore open and what primordial soup oozed out I cannot begin to understand, but whatever it was that caused me to feel alive, hopeful, joyful… it was gone.
When the shock faded and everything else that is grief rushed in it was impossible to breathe. The anxiety was overwhelming, and the depression was cataclysmic. In each moment I could find no reason to continue even with the family I created trying to whisper love back into my heart. The loss was everywhere, the laugh I would never hear again. The voice I would eventually lose. It was all I could see.
Traumatic loss awakens the brain to past trauma. A cruel twist of fate when grief is itself one of the most powerful experiences.
It was months later that I stumbled into yoga. Looking for support groups I found a “yoga for grief” group and with nothing else to hold onto I began an at home practice. From moments sobbing in child’s pose to those finding strength in learning that I could find strength and balance inside of myself I learned to breathe again. I learned to companion my trauma. To sit with her. To sit in the closet with myself as the raped little girl who just wanted to be okay in years passed. To sit with myself as the young woman years later in the police station being told that she had been physically, emotionally and sexually abused because she was too quiet. To champion for myself. To sit with myself in this moment in the gravity of my loss. To sit in the life that I no longer understand and find my breath and create a space to live.
Grief is marked by isolation, a collective inability to sit with the realities of death and loss. Everybody is looking for some soothing answer about what comes next. Yoga, for me, is the opposite of that. Yoga is not searching to understand that which cannot be understood within life. Yoga is about finding balance within yourself.
I write this because as isolated as trauma tells me that I am… As isolated as I feel in this world that no longer makes sense… as I try to find my footing in this liminal stage in-between who I was before yet can no longer be and who I must become… I am not alone. In this practice and the Yoga Girl community, which is truly for everyone in every body, there is room for love. Balance. Breath. Hope.
It is my hope that those who need it, those who are hurt and lost, will find there way into this community. We’re stronger together.