When I did my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, our teachers shared a story with us that helped me break through a very emotional upheaval that hit me while laying in sivasana at the end of our class (I spent three days crying).
Imagine that your body is a container, and settled on the bottom of it is a pile of dirt. This dirt is all the old stuff we have repressed in our bodies (container). Using water to symbolize yoga, we begin to dump fresh water into this container and what happens? The dirt on the bottom starts to lift up. Not wanting to make a mess of things, normally we would STOP and let the dirt settle again. (In yoga this is ofter referred to as our edge, but that’s a different post.)
So on and on we may go, dumping water, dirt rising, stopping to let it settle, then dumping more water in (yoga) and more dirt rises (emotions or repressions). Eventually this might become so frustrating that we just stop trying to do yoga at all because it seems like something must be wrong… yoga shouldn’t make you feel crummy, right? Kind of…
The thing is if we keep dumping water into this container, the dirt will continue to rise and stir and make a mess, but instead of stopping or slowing down the water if you continue to pour, pour, pour, something amazing happens… As water overflows from the container, it takes the old dirt with it. Eventually all the dirt is gone, and the only thing left inside the container is pure clean water.
I love this analogy for how yoga helps us clean out our body, our traumas and leaving us shining, clean and strong. As we are able to let these things go, we stop dwelling or analyzing or compensating for them. Instead we begin to feel clear headed, physically strong, and over all more relaxed, content and healthy.
The next time you reach your edge in yoga, don’t stop when you feel the dirt rising, instead keep practicing with awareness (no judgment, analyzing or clinging to what you see/feel), and see what happens. Don’t push yourself OVER your edge, but certainly do not avoid it or give up on your yoga practice. It is telling you that you have reached a transformational stage and when you are ready to work with it, you will move through it and into a new level of living.