The Phoenix by Sophie Cummings
Time is not the healer of everything. Prior to yoga, I could have spent my whole life searching and never filling the gaping hole in my heart. When I was 17, my mother died. My world did it crumble; nothing happened – or at least I thought nothing happened. My life continued. I built a fortress around my heart so that I would never have to experience such insurmountable pain again. What I did not know at the time was when you block out one emotion, you block out everything. Autopilot took over and I was never fully present. I was not invested in anything other than soccer. Soccer was sanctuary where everything made sense. I could control the ball; I could control how well I played. I could control something. Making my sanctuary home caused my body pain. It was in the same place as my mother had cancer. At the time, I called it sympathy pain. I wanted to share my mother’s burden so this pain was not real; it was a fabrication of the mind.
Unfortunately, the injury was real. Several months after my mother died, I found myself in the ER due to severity of the pain. No one could diagnose it. Thus, I continued to function without the knowledge of my injury. Day after day, I fought pain. Medication stopped helping, and I knew I needed something; I needed a sanctuary.
I walked into a yoga classroom because it was close to campus and the first month was $30. I went almost every single day. My body felt better. Yoga was better than medication. With less pain, I was able to function more normally. I could go dancing without having severe pain the next day.
With this newfound happiness, I dove into yoga teacher training. One day my teacher trainer taught a heart-opening class. At the end of the day, I went home and tears streamed down my face. Camel, Ustrasana, opened up my heart. The pose found an immediate way to break down my walls. After discussing with my trainer and several TTs, I discovered I had never dealt with my mother’s death. The walls kept emotions in as well as out. Thus, my challenge was to physically open my heart so I could come to terms with my mother’s death.
That was in 2013 I took on that challenge. I’m happy to say that nearly one-year post hip-surgery in 2016, I took Erik’s class. In the class, he used the theme of “going deep.” “Go deeper than you have been before.” I thought: Hmm, what do you mean go deep? I’m already going deep, but sometimes my heart goes back on autopilot. I took some deep breathes, let the remainder of my walls crumble onto my mat. Inhale, fill with love. Exhale, plant your hands, shine your heart for the whole class to see. Go deep. Go deeper. Breathe. Keep breathing. I felt this luscious smile broaden across my face. Peace. Then savasana time with my mother.
Coping with death isn’t easy. I went on autopilot. I convinced myself I was doing it right, and I honor my journey. Every step that it took me to nail my pose. What was more important than the pose was shedding my layers. Opening new channels and that’s why my yoga journey has taught me. The pose is the product of you. When I am closed, my practice is shallow. When I’m in a space of love and those I love, new lines open up in my body and freedom flows throughout my entire body.
Namaste- the light in me honors and cherishs the light in you.