(OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)
ut = intense
tan = to stretch or extend

I’ve been slacking on the yoga (and just about everything else) thanks to some pretty extreme exhaustion.

The commonly used word to discuss this phenomenon is fatigue; from where I sit, a rather poetic, but pathetic and weak word that, when used to describe the mind-numbing body-aching brain-fogging monster that sends me face-planted into my pillow more days than not, is akin to calling a full facial transplant a beauty makeover. A word that, when used out loud, conjours images of fragile, ghostly, sepia-like Victorian women on the verge of a delicate faint.

Victorian I am not. For the past couple of years I’ve managed to balance the reality that something is wrong in one hand with the magical thinking born of denial in the other. With barely enough energy to get through the workday and walk my dogs, much less have a social life or maintain friendships, I research the symptoms, causes and cures. I rationalize that my bloodwork is fine and a little rest will fix it. And I, like the fragile Victorian flower, sink slowly, gracefully, almost imperceptibly, delicately to the ground. Except that if both hands are occupied, there will be nothing to catch you when you fall.

Blessed am I to be working with an amazing energy healer who has rejuvenated and reopened my connection to my own innate wisdom, healing ability and spirit guides. Together we’ve been working through old wounds and imbalances, restoring the health and vitality of an overworked and depleted adrenal system, bringing clarity to the lessons to be learned. I finally realize how hard I will push myself and how quickly I will dismiss my own feminine wisdom and strengths and beauty, how easily I will contract into basic survival mode. How brutally I will beat myself to just keep moving.

So when I start to cry in the midst of doing yoga, it surprises me, as I’m posed in a simple forward bend. What begins as a gentle and relaxing posture quickly pulls on tight hips and back, calls for even breaths and a slight bow into the depth of the move. This act of submission is also an act of admission, and it opens a place inside where lost emotions are stored. They begin pouring out, first in waves and then in angry, crashing rolls. My yoga teacher friend tells me this asana stimulates the kidneys, the organ that, in Chinese medicine, holds fear. She explains that, “like house renovation, it’s going to get ugly before it gets pretty. In yoga the buried negative emotions need to be released in order for the bliss that is inherently there, thank goodness, to be experienced.”

In other words, we contract so that we can expand. Thank goodness indeed.

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