a lesson in openness



There is an intense vulnerability that I experience when I do Ushtrasana (camel pose) when practicing Bikram yoga. You are on your knees, kneeling, your hands are placed palm down, thumbs out on the small of your back for only a breath or so until you then move them down to grab onto your ankles.You drop your head back, all the way back until you see the wall behind you, your upper body arches up, your hips push up creating a stretch throughout your whole body but lastly pushing up through your chest, your heart area completely exposed. The aim is to keep pushing, keep arching, continue to struggle to get your body to defy giving up, giving in. There is something about being in this move that makes me frequently want to burst out crying. Sometimes I succumb quietly a gentle tear amongst the sweat, other times I suppress it, squashing down the need to just sob & let it all out. Instead I focus on my breathing. In through my nose, out through my nose until my brain & my heart are back in sync, concentrating on the mirror, on my body & the strength that I can harness from my vulnerabilities.

As we grow from children to adults we forget what it is like to be vulnerable in life. We become closed & constricted. We get hurt by the world, by people who we once loved, we grow a thick skin in order to protect ourselves. Subconsciously we rotate our shoulders forward, we push out our chin & round our upper body in order to protect our heart. Doing this creates an imbalance in our heart chakras. Ushtrasana is one of the best poses for your heart chakra. Your heart chakra is connected to your energies allowing them to achieve balance. Camel pose opens up your chest area, exposing you, making you vulnerable & more open to giving & receiving love.

So it is here in this exposed state that I found myself yesterday evening, after 11 days of not doing any form of exercise, all of those vulnerabilities came flooding back. Never mind that I had flown in from India that morning, not slept in 24 hours & I decided it was a good idea that I put myself in a room heated to 40 degrees. But that pose, brings out emotions in me, without me realising that they are in my fore mind to begin with. It opens me up. I need opening up. I need the shell, the armour I have created around me to be cracked open. I have been closed off for far too long. I locked myself away from being open to love, the act of giving myself over to the idea of welcoming love back into my life for far too long.

In the last 6 months I have had encounters that have taught me lessons in the art of openness, of which at the time I was unsure exactly why these men had been brought into my life. The first & probably the most significant was somewhat of a rush of blood to my head, a chance meeting with a man. An actual man, not a boy, but a man whose presence has a magnetic energy that pulled me into his orbit. He is a gentle soul, charismatic, humble, fragile yet strong & confident, a somewhat contradiction of terms, slightly geeky yet oozes nonchalance & style.  I was so blinded by the shield I had spent years constructing for myself that at the time of meeting him I did not see the connection. It was only later that I even allowed myself to think that someone like him could be interested in a girl like me. It seemed for a time, albeit only briefly that he felt the same way. That we had not met someone like each other in a long time, I for one had never met someone like him. It was here that my undoing began. I let my guard down, I opened up unequivocally. It was like once I had let all the shackles come off from my heart that a flood gate opened. I rushed, I pushed, I drove him away.

It takes a huge leap of faith to open up to someone new & even more so after nearly 7 years of being closed off from the thought that my battered heart could actually feel anything again but I do not regret one moment of our encounters. Meeting him, allowing myself to feel vulnerable, showing him how much capacity my heart has to give to someone I care about is the biggest lesson I learnt. By opening myself up to the possibilities that I have been so scared of, in turn taught me that with openness comes courage, grace & self worth. And whilst I may have closed myself off out of habit & fear from the hurt, the doorway is most definitely cracked & there is most certainly light where there used only be darkness.