Cathy Weiss

Yoga | Author | Spiritual Teacher

Private and small group yoga instruction for women. Professional, reliable, authentic.

The Glimmer of a Puddle

My next yoga lesson came around the age of 27.  One thing to keep in mind is that for me yoga was s-l-o-w-l-y filling my empty heart and soul. It was and still is a process of bringing me back home to myself. In the late 90's I began taking yoga classes in Pasadena, CA from Jeanne Heileman. I've taken classes with her off and over for 12 or 13 years and she is the one I call my teacher. She always seems to know when it's time for a little more learning and when it's time to just let the lessons settle in. I learned this next, big lesson from her very early on in taking her classes.

I've taken so many yoga classes over the years, they blend together a little bit so the exact when is a bit fuzzy, but the learning is bright.

Jeanne moved us into some asana/pose or another and then said, "Notice how this feels."

Whoa! Hold on a second...how it feels??

At that point I had been practicing yoga for about 2 years and was just doing the poses as best I could so that they looked right on the outside. It was an external expression, full of desire to be the best in the room, to (hopefully) earn a little praise from whichever instructor I was taking class from. To do the asanas "right".

And so for the first time I felt the pose. This was an unfamiliar new awareness for me. I was totally disconnected from my body because I didn't like it. I felt so small, pudgy, and cute in a little girl way that it was easier to just not feel.

I began to feel the asanas physically. Some felt good, some felt hard and tremble-y, some felt stretchy and some felt like work, some felt comfortable - as in comfortable in my own skin (though then I'm not sure that's what I would have said, I can, however, see that now.)

Something else happened when Jeanne would ask us to feel the pose. I was feeling feelings, you know, emotions.

That was SCARY.

While some poses just felt nice and made me want to smile, some poses brought up anger, sadness, frustration, tears. Some of them would bubble up laughter, giggles, pride, and joy. And those were scary, too. As a co-dependent, my whole M.O. was to make sure other people felt happy with what I did, not myself.

I was so sad and angry from making others happy that I was completely lost to myself and knowing what made me happy. I had denied my own truth and feelings for years. My emotional heart was dead, black. It took several years of time and effort to revive my heart and bring it back to full, abundant, joyous life. Years of dying = years of recovery.

So for quite some time, like another year or so, I chose to notice the physical feelings of the asanas, not the emotional ones. The emotional feelings were too big, too unexplored, and too unfamiliar for the time being. The great news about that is I began to become aware of my body outside of class, too.

What I began to notice was how certain foods made my body feel. I had never really paid attention before. I just sort of ate what was in front of me or what I thought sounded good or what my brain thought it wanted, rather than eating for my body.

Here's an example: I knew I didn't like birthday cakes bought from a grocery store bakery, but always ate some because I thought I "had to", to make the birthday person feel happy, because it was there. I started to notice that eating those types of cakes, full of refined sugar, white flour, and chemical flavors and preservatives left me feeling just sort of icky. So I stopped eating them. And my body felt sooooo much better.

Wow! I was starting to make a connection to my physical self.

I can't say this new behavior was well received by everyone, I was still surrounding myself with mostly unhealthy people and unhealthy relationships, so sometimes I didn't express my choices very well. I still hadn't learned how to feel my emotions in a healthy manner, but I was making small steps of progress toward wholeness.

I also noticed that, really, I pretty much hated Diet Coke. And yet I drank a lot of it, every day. I never slept well when I drank it, it made me irritable, and there wasn't any joy or savoring it as I consumed it. One day I just stopped. 100%. No more diet or regular soda of any type. Another huge WOW! I started sleeping through the night. I felt less fussy in my body during the day and less like I need another caffeine hit.

And even though I drank diet soda, when I stopped I lost weight. Then I really started to feel better in my body. And, bonus!, my breasts were so much less tender during PMS which meant less irritability, phew. I just felt all around better. I wasn't 100% confident in all areas of feeling and eating yet. Just better. A little lighter. In daily life it was like I had a little more room to breathe.

There was a glimmer of a puddle at the bottom of the bucket of my soul. A little visible shift in how I interacted with myself. Yoga was slowly, patiently and lovingly doing it's work. My empty bucket wasn't quite so empty anymore.

Try this today - Notice how it feels. Whether "it" is a yoga pose, a meal, a conversation, or something else. Just notice without judgement, for yourself to know yourself.

If you enjoyed or were inspired by what you read, please Like, Share, and Tweet. With Gratitude, Cathy