Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Cycle of Vulnerability and Withdrawl

I've been thinking a lot lately about vulnerability and my tendency to cycle through a mental phase of opening up followed by a phase of pulling in. A post on Expansion and Contraction from new blogger, Abhyasa, gave me some more food for thought.

It's interesting to me to watch where the fear and discomfort come up.

Physically, I associate opening up with back-bending and if that is true, then physically, open is my default. I have never been afraid of "doing" back bends. I was never afraid of dropping back. I have never been afraid of kapotasana. I have "lost and found" both drop-backs and kapotasana several times now over the life of my practice, yet even when they were tight or puzzlingly inaccessible, I wasn't afraid of doing the poses.

Physically, I find back-bending, at the least, energizing and at the most, euphoric...but for a long time that post-back bend exhilaration was almost always followed several hours later by a feeling of panic...a sort of vague feeling of vulnerability, a feeling that I had opened up too much. I'd have a sudden need to both physically and mentally pull in, curl into a ball and close up. The deeper the back bends and the more of them I was doing, the greater the need to close up once the post-back bend euphoria passed.

Mentally, outside of practice I followed the same pattern: the deeper the opening up, the greater the feeling panic afterwards and the greater the desire to pull in and withdraw.

For a long time, I felt a certain amount of guilt when the openness overwhelmed me and I closed down. Why couldn't I maintain openness all the time? Why the post-openness panic?

The wisdom of the Ashtanga sequencing is slowly working it's magic and the physical ups and downs are leveling out. Mental patterns are following the physical ones. Physically, I am sloooooowly building strength to match the bendiness I was born with. I notice as the body evens out, so does the mind. There is more steadiness underneath the openness and I am extremely grateful for every bit of it.


  1. good to hear that everything evens out with time... :-)

  2. It really does. :)
    I expect there are still plenty of surprises both in my practice and life that will "upset the apple cart" so to speak, but the easier it has gotten to breath in the crazy poses, the easier it has gotten to breath in the crazy life stuff too.

  3. A little late to this blogpost -- thanks for sharing. What you say re: breathing in Ashtanga poses parallelling breathing in Life's unexpected poses is just awesome =) I think of that often as Life's poses manifest, and it sure helps. Have shared this nugget with a coupla folks to their benefit, carry on Christine!

  4. Thanks Bob...what a nice compliment! Your breath control in practice has changed dramatically over the past year and a half!! Glad to hear the increased steadiness is manifesting in life as well. :)