About seven months ago I had resisted attending a yoga class for months. I kept a bunch of excuses handy, I was juggling a lot in my life, I am the type of person that tries something new and dives in, whether it’s an activity, a new job or a new relationship I commit and I own it.
The problem with that excuse is that yoga isn’t new to me at all and I desperately wanted to go to a class. I used to practice a style of yoga called Forrest Yoga and it is not offered at any studios where I live now in Charlotte, NC. This excuse sounds like such yogi snobbery, but in reality it was just another way for me to avoid releasing some serious emotions that had been holding me back.
This major hesitation was becoming very frustrating to me, why was I ruminating on taking this tiny step to walk thru the door into a hot room that I had done many times before?
I let my mind wander so I could find the root of this problem.
Am I fearful of facing the truth that I’m no longer as strong or as flexible as I once was? Is this because it reminds me too much of my life in Madison? Do I miss Madison? Am I afraid that I won’t be able to keep up with the advanced people in class?
These questions were very confusing to sort through because I don’t feel that I have a confidence issue about the life I have created, the success I have found in my work or the love that I have found throughout my time away from a yoga practice.
I kept on digging deeper.
This Hesitation Was Not About Yoga
After cancelling my fourth online sign up for a yoga class I rolled out my mat in my own apartment and replayed all of those above questions in my head. Then it finally dawned on me.
The only time I had tried a “Hot Vinyasa” class was in the summer of 2013, when I had broken out in a severe rash from a drug reaction. I started taking prescribed amoxicillin to treat strep throat. The rash is a common side effect when a penicillin drug is taken with an active case of mono, which I wasn’t aware that I had. The doctors said the rash usually clears up in a few days to weeks. My rash didn’t.
This rash was no joke, by week two the light pink rash became dark pink and red splotches that covered my body for months. The photo above was taken during the second month I lived with the rash and that was not even the worst of its appearance.
The doctors had given me steroids, various topical lotions and it was only getting worse. They assured me that one of the best things to do is to wait for it fade away and clear up. That process was so slow especially due to the severity of the rash.
That’s when I looked for another way, a dear friend of mine suggested that I make an appointment with his aunt, Amy Guinther L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., MS , who is an acupuncturist. She recommended that I adjust my diet, take some Chinese herbs and consider attending a yoga class to help to detoxify my body further along with continuing acupuncture treatments.
My First Yoga Class
I immediately found a studio near me and went to my first Hot Vinyasa class. The heated room felt amazing and comfortable, even though it was my first time attending a yoga class I was able to keep up because I had balanced out my HIIT and spin class workouts with yoga basics for years.
All of that calm happiness turned into a complete panic when we were half way into class during a forward bend I realized that my entire body was bleeding. The nice white complimentary towels I borrowed from the studio for my first class were now tiedyed with a pinkish hue.
My acupuncturist was right, that is some serious detoxification.
I had completely blocked out this memory of my first hot yoga class until I was here in my apartment on my mat holding downward dog for what seemed to be an hour.
As I replayed the memory, I remembered that even after I noticed the blood I stayed on my mat and completed the class. I remember leaving when the room was dark, putting my towel in the hamper in the locker room and that was it. Nobody said a word to me as I left and I don’t even remember my drive home or what kind of processing I did with that after class.
Memory of Emotions
That memory triggered a stream of old emotions which connected me back to memories I had buried from those months that I lived with that rash.
While the rash became more and more intense, it also brought on a whole new set of mysterious health problems.
The most painful was a neuro-muscular dysfunction in my upper digestive system that caused me to have to sleep propped up on the couch and take anti-nausea prescription just to get out of bed. At the worst times I was barely able to swallow any food or liquids without choking.
I was literally afraid to eat anything.
Almost every test, procedure or emergency room visit led to more mystery and no answers as to why my body was in such distress. During this period I hid myself a lot, I was exhausted with chronic fatigue and lived in limbo for nearly a year. I went from running 10 mile races and lifting weights daily to barely making it up one flight of stairs without having to rest at the top.
There were times that I was so desperate to have a diagnosis that I even wished for the answer to just be cancer because at least in that case, we would know what to do about it.
I found most of my hope and relief during my visits to my acupuncturist and she was ultimately the one who ordered a blood test for me that led me to a final answer. I had developed a severe intolerance to corn.
I immediately eliminated all traces of corn from my diet. After doing research, I also decided to transition into cooking and eating with Ayurvedic principles. Being the sister science to yoga, I decided it would be super beneficial to also get back to my mat. That’s when I found Forrest Yoga and with it, I healed my body and my spirit.
This became a pivotal moment for me. Being here in my apartment with all of these tears rolling down onto my mat. Maybe I have finally worked through something that has been holding me back for more than just the past few months, but for the past couple of years.
I am still scared to death that as much as my body has healed over time, all it takes is one bite of corn to ultimately send me right back into that limbo.
My Next Bite
The next day I walked right into a hot vinyasa class at Charlotte Yoga and without a hitch I stood my ground and then I went again the next day and the next day and the next day. Taking full advantage of my new student unlimited package, I ended up practicing 35 out of 40 days. I even returned to the studio that I had took my first hot vinyasa class in while I was home for Christmas.
I am not sure if I needed all of that time to dig up and define the emotion or whether I was just trying to explain the memory to myself now that the sickness is over.
In the end there are no words that can do justice to the experience of weight literally rolling off my shoulders or the tears rolling down my face and onto the mat.