Exorcism of a Yogini.
By Terri Hug.
Energy infused through my nerves, electrifying my spine, as I began to perform a seated Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose) back against the sissy bar.
My head was taunting the opportunity to kiss the back tire as we sailed past 80 mph. My hair screamed in terror, pulling away towards the sky. His tattooed knuckles faded from my vision. The synergy of it all, as he twisted the throttle down slowly while releasing the clutch with his opposite hand, seduced my mind, forcing me to bite my bottom lip.
The wind held my hands and my thighs held his hips, and in this moment I was free. The binding rules of the world became vapored ghosts and the clogged wars in my head were released as I rode. My inner indecisiveness echoed down the barren road, and I felt unchained from the permanent weights around my ankles. In this moment my life just could not get any better, or so I thought.
“It takes getting everything you’ve ever wanted and losing it, to know what true freedom is.” ~ Lana Del Rey
In 2010, I was dealt a hard hand, as I lost my mother, my job, my husband, my brand new house, my unlimited money and, therefore, my security. So I did what anyone would do: I slowly burned. I was not in Folsom Prison, but Johnny is spot on: “when you don’t have sunshine, you start wanting to shoot people just to watch them die.”
Wading on a river of illusion, I peered back at the world through the smoke of my cigarette, and with tired eyes, I realized that holding on to the world I knew, and the world I’d rather have, just tortured me more.
The Check Engine light was blinking. There was a problem, but my tequila glazing was not the solution. No true cure is obtained by treating a symptom; I had to get to the root.
There was a familiar whisper from the mat and I reluctantly crawled to a yoga class; however, I wish it came with a warning. Caution, when done correctly, yoga may cause an emotional and physical exorcism. Yoga is a science of stripping away your layers, conjuring demons, unwinding regret, which eventually becomes an art of reconciling your past, exploding new muscles, sewing the scars on your heart and the birth of your true authentic self.
Sounds beautiful, but it can be quite grotesque. I often wonder why there is so much energy to warn me that the coffee I ordered hot could burn me, yet my heart did not come prepackaged with a warning label about life events that could cause turmoil and loneliness — the true killers out there.
“Ruin is a gift. Ruin leads you on the path to transformation.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
So with these new tragedies, I begged for the Melt Your Cares Away Yoga class. Instead what I received was the I’m going to cry on this mat in a room full of strangers at 6 p.m. Yoga class. Awesome. Yoga was this shovel that started a slow dig at every dark grave in my body.
The comforting IV of caffeine, liquor, bad decisions and overeating reversed direction and began pumping outwards, unlocking all that was toxic and stale into a bucket at my bedside. What remained was a weak naked body in a hollow room without a nurse and only one object, a fogged mirror.
From the highest high, I hit the lowest low, and was left to discover what was accurately authentic. As common as the sun rising, we all will be dealt some blows that could change the entire game. Throwing us to the ground with a variety of punches, they have the power to make you question everything. I was living a life that embraced my chameleon soul, but as the divine picked up the eraser and washed my board clean, a new door opened that unearthed truths I had not seen before.
I believed I was free, yet I started to see that I was a 9-5 miserable slave and a restricted pleasure addict. I would dream about the opportunity to saddle up and release the five days of conformity, truly restricting my limited time here on earth to only vacations and weekends. In these moments, you can — and will be forced to — choose between hauling around a backpack of despairing dead weight, and rising up by shedding your victim mentality.
I realized that I did not need to seek and find new replacements to all that I had lost. Instead it was this explosion of light and understanding on how much bigger I could live even without those things.
“Let everything happen to you, beauty & terror, just keep going. No feeling is final.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Yoga literally means ‘to yoke’. It is the union between you and your higher self. This process alone is not for the faint at heart. You will literally have to become some form of a badass to venture this deep and grow this hearty. Yoga will pick the mirror up and shove it in your face, but surprisingly not for judgment. It is not the time to start analyzing everything and categorizing into right and wrong boxes, it is simply an opportunity to bear witness, to even the darkest energy.
You are not broken beyond repair when you choose certain paths or experience the undesirable, because all of it is okay. It is all just an endless wave of opportunity to grow and morph. Experiences are the vehicles, the rides to move you to a higher place of self-love; it is not about self-help.
Today there are still wars in my head, but I no longer call the nurse in for a new IV. I understand their purpose is just as valuable as the peace they reside next to. What is feared most is your guru. Everything you have ever run from is the very source that can crack your heart into a million pieces, pouring light and freedom that is purely indescribable in words.
It is a freedom you only know when you are lucky enough to have experienced a deep swim through a moat while on your way to the castle. If and when you find yourself in the middle of the moat of life, take the gift and heed the warning. This freedom is for you but you have to be brave enough to endure a slight exorcism and be open enough to living a life much bigger than you imagined.
Today the open road still feeds my inner gypsy, but instead of riding to escape, I ride to absorb the oneness of it all. The saddlebags are empty, no longer holding the wars of imbalance. With the exorcism behind me, I relish in the freedom that now flows all seven days of the week. The symphony that comes from the synergy between the growls of the ride and the winds from the divine plays a melody I am humble to receive.
We are all riding at different speeds and playing from different decks of cards, but are you truly aware of the life support systems you have created for yourself? Coming off them is the answer. I understand it may be eerie and can get a little ugly, but trust me when I say this:
Awakening will be the best natural drug you will ever be on. You have been warned.
Terri Hug is a Yoga Instructor, wellness junkie, antevasin, animal advocate, tattoo-collector and boundary-pusher. Her motto is to ‘Stay mindful and play outside the box.’ A certified instructor currently pursuing the 500-hour level Integrative Yoga Therapist certification, Terri teaches Hatha yoga classes to adults, chair yoga to senior citizens and offers Ignite Within meditation workshops. You could contact this vegetarian, writer, music addict and misfit-builder on Twitter, Facebook or HugWellness.com.