Today was the last day of my 3rd weekend of yoga teacher training. We spent the morning discussing the history of yoga, western yoga, and The Bhagavad Gita. Our day ended with a Bhagavad Gita flow.
I knew it was coming. My therapist had warned me. During the flow, we would be wearing blindfolds.
It didn’t matter that I knew we may have to wear blindfolds. The anxiety was still there. I asked the instructor if I had to wear the blindfold. He said no, but he would like for everyone to try it if they could. I took a deep breath. My favorite yoga teacher was practicing right next to me. I trusted that she would not let anything bad happen to me, even though she was blindfolded too.
I put the blindfold on. Instantly my heart began to race and my breathing sped up. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was heading straight for a full blown panic attack. I couldn’t get past the anxiety to keep up with the sun salutations. I couldn’t remember what poses came next. I couldn’t link my breath with movement. In every pause in the flow, I could hear my shallow breath and beating heart. He’s coming – I know he is… he’s going to hurt me. I couldn’t push the thoughts out of my head as the instructor walked around the room.
We paused at the top of our mat before heading into the next sequence of postures. I lifted the blindfold and looked around. I’m here – in my favorite yoga studio, surrounded by safe people. He can’t hurt me.
The flow continued. I pulled the blindfold down and started to practice again. A few postures in, my breath became shallow as my sympathetic nervous system took over again. At some point, we were holding a Warrior I. I found myself matching my thumb to each finger and anchoring my breath. I am safe. I am loved. I am safe. I am loved. Finally, after several sequences, my anxiety numbers dropped from a 10 to a 5. A 5 is much more manageable.
By that point, it was time to take the blindfolds off. The remainder of the flow would be practiced without blindfolds. I felt tears of relief filling my eyes. I don’t have to be afraid anymore.
I almost cried several times throughout the remainder of the flow. They were tears of relief, but also tears of sadness and grief. I understood the purpose of the practice, but I wasn’t actually able to experience it today due to my PTSD. It’s upsetting that I sometimes miss out on things due to events that happened so long ago.
When the practice was over, we had the opportunity to share our thoughts on doing yoga blindfolded. A few people shared how amazing it was and how it caused them to look inward and really slow down their practice. I couldn’t not share my experience after hearing that. My experience was so different than theirs. As I started to talk about how it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in yoga, I couldn’t fight back the tears. And I couldn’t make the tears stop, even once I had finished talking. It was so scary to not be able to see what was going on in the room during that practice.
My vulnerability was met with so much love after class ended. Several people came up to me and said how courageous I am, how strong and brave I am, and what an inspiration I am. I hear those things from my blog readers, but today was the first time I’ve really had someone other than a therapist say things like that to me. Ever. I had no idea that my words would be so impactful. By taking the blindfold off and sharing my vulnerabilities, people were able to walk away with an awareness of what it’s like for someone who has PTSD that they may have not had before. That is amazing. 💜