Svadhyaya and the manifestations of things unsaid

I’m not a great communicator.  I keep things in until they literally cause me physical pain.  I gave myself an ulcer a few years ago because I was in a relationship with an amazing guy.  Makes sense, right?  Well, the issue was that as amazing as he was, I knew he wasn’t right for me.  I sat with this in my gut for over a year.  Not dealing with it.  Pushing it down.  Hoping the feeling would go away and we cold live happily ever after.  Swallowing it until my inner voice finally decided to play hard ball as I clearly wasn’t listening to it.  I finally started getting physically ill.  Having sharp pains in my guts, unable to eat and eventually barely stand up straight (guess who was taking care of me during this whole episode?  Sheesh).

I knew what was causing it and I knew I finally had to listen.  We broke up shortly after and being the incredible human he is, he was nothing but understanding.  The pain went away almost immediately after that.

I told myself not to allow something like that to happen again.  To follow my instinct and communicate my thoughts and feelings.  Fast forward a few years and I am no better…. in fact, I’m likely worse.  And the physical symptoms may be returning but manifesting in a different way.

In speaking with my wise friend Ash today,  I was telling him about how over the past few weeks I’ve had a couple of pretty routine procedures done.  One was a filling, nbd, right?  And then a couple of days ago I had to have a peripheral iridotomy (it involves laser beams).  Neither is a walk in the park, but they’re also pretty benign as far as medical procedures go.

When I got the needle in my cheek to freeze me for the filling, I started to feel really heavy.  My head felt like it weighed a ton.  The hygienist asked how I was feeling and I said “is my head supposed to feel like it weighs 1000 lbs?”  She replied with “…ummm, I don’t think so?”  I also told her I was really cold and thought I was going to vomit.  She lowered the chair so that my heart and head were below my feet and put a blanket on me.  My heart was pounding, my throat felt like it was closing, I started hyperventilating a bit while trying my best to employ deep yogic breathing to calm myself down.  I must have started to go pale because they put the blood pressure cuff on me to check my pressure, but it was fine.  So they just said to wait a few minutes and this would pass.  Sure enough, it did.  After all that, I wasn’t even frozen and needed to have another shot.  Luckily that one did the trick and I was fine.

When I had to have the eye procedure done, a similar thing happened.  My eyeballs were frozen using some drops and my chin and forehead were placed in their appropriate position at the laser machine.  I had to look at a green light and keep still while the doctor placed a lens over my eye and proceeded to begin with the lasers.  I commenced freaking out almost immediately.  Again with the hyperventilating (although, again trying to breath deeply and calmly), uncontrollable sobbing, (did I mention that happened during my ‘freezing’ episode above?), and shaking.  They had to stop part way through because it wasn’t safe to perform the procedure if I didn’t calm down and keep still.  They gave me an adavan to calm me down.  It did nothing.  The procedure should only take like 1 minute.  Literally.

Eventually the procedure was completed with the help of a persistent doctor, 2 assistants to hold me in place and someone to hold my hand.  I was again sobbing and having trouble breathing but must have been just cooperative and still enough for him to complete it.

Both times this was happening, it was like I left my body.  Like I was watching myself sobbing and had no idea where it was coming from.  Floating me was like “calm down!  Why are you crying?  Where is this coming from? You’re not sad,  you’re not scared, why are you reacting in this way? Chill the fuck out!”

Even as the whimpering and sobbing was happening in both circumstances I remember telling the good doctors that I had no idea why I was crying, that it was just happening and I couldn’t control it.

There are likely medical reasons behind both reactions.  The freezing needle could have hit a nerve or something.  Maybe the numbing eye drops didn’t quite numb as well as they should have the first time they tried (hence the use of what seemed like an entire bottle the 2nd go around).  Maybe there is an ingredient in both freezing concoctions that I have a sobbing, hyperventilating, shaking reaction to.

Or maybe, as Ash suggested, there is something deeper going on here.  Maybe when I’m incapacitated in some (albeit small) way, I panic.  When I’m not in full control, I freak out.  But why?  At teacher training we’ve talked about this as well.  About how the body will hold stress in the muscles and joints.  It’s even stored at the cellular level.

Ash reckons the time I’m going to spend at the Ashram may just shed some light on it.

It will be a great opportunity for Svadhyaya – Self study. 

This is the fourth of the Niyamas.  The personal observances.  The second of the eight limbs.  Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination.  Really, any activity that cultivates self reflective consciousness can be considered svadhyaya.  There will be considerable time spent doing so at the Ashram.  Daily meditation, asana practices, and journaling will all assist in this self study and perhaps shed some light on what’s been going on these past few weeks. Clearly my body is trying to let go of some things (saw a couple opportunities to do so and took full advantage) but my mind has no idea what those are…





Why yoga?

I’m 35 and have been doing yoga for a long time.  The physical practice anyway.  The ‘asanas’.  I got into it thanks to my little sister, and admittedly a degree of vanity (’cause “yoga bodies”, am I right?!)  Little sis went to Victoria, stayed at an Ashram and completed her yoga teacher training. From there, initially to support her (and my vanity), I would go to the classes she taught in the basement of her townhouse.  She decorated it with colourful scarves and a handful of women would meet there and practice.

That’s not to say I was wholly committed.  Like most things in my life I enjoyed it immensely when I did it, but not being the most self motivated person  you’ve ever met, I’d also go days, weeks, sometimes a couple of years in between practices.

In the past year I’ve gotten into it more seriously, and a friend of mine who is taking her teacher training inspired me to do the same.  The course at my studio of choice (the studio where I practice) had already begun, but I was able to start late, play catch up, and am now nearly finished.  There is so much more to yoga than the ‘asanas’.  As I learn more about the philosophy of yoga, the more I want to learn.  That’s not to say I still don’t have days where I don’t practice, because I most certainly do, but it’s slowly becoming a part of my day to day.

So that’s where I’m at… the head of the trail in my yoga journey


I started writing this post at 608 pm.  In bed.  I was up for work at 230 this morning and I’m exhausted.  We’ve had record breaking snow fall and when I got home I shovelled.  Thankfully, the snow itself is ‘light’.  Shovelling brought my attention to how sore my shoulders are.  At training this weekend we worked on arm balances;  headstands and scorpion poses.

So, as I finished shovelling, I was trying to psych myself up for doing a home practice…. thinking about which poses I can do, and which modifications to make to take it easy on my shoulders.  I instantly felt tired and heavy. Then I thought about just not doing any asanas today. Then I had an inner battle about ‘going easy’ on myself and beating myself up for taking the day off.  Then I thought of Ahimsa.

Ahimsa is one of the five Yamas.  Yamas are one of the eight limbs of yoga within Raja yoga.  The Yamas refer to restraint.  Embracing the eight limbs brings one closer to perfect concentration.

Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things (including ourselves)
The word ahimsa literally means “not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever”. Ahimsa is, however, more than just lack of violence as adapted in yoga. It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of  people and things. It also has to do with our own duties and responsibilities. Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.

The negative self-talk, beating oneself up is a form of harm.

There will be days you will kill it.  You will be up early and do everything you had planned on doing with a smile and time to spare.

There will also be days that you don’t.  The days you begrudgingly open your eyes after hitting snooze until the last possible second.  Trading your breakfast, morning shower, stretch, meditation and any other part of your routine that you can ‘afford’ to skip for a few extra zzz’s.

These days are ok too.  Sometimes you need those extra zzz’s.  The extra time under the covers.  Delaying the onslaught of noise and demands.  I know I do.

And that’s ok.  Don’t beat yourself up.