was that you?

So I stretched my body because I needed to stretch my heart, but it wouldn't give. It wouldn't fucking give, so I had to to ask yoga. I hit my mat and wished for deliverance. I wished for the sweet release of breath and movement and prayed my stingy heart would take note. Move blood, move bones, move breath, move body. Come on heart- open, receive, feel more than just the numbness. 

Is that you fear? Old friend, heavy hitter, most likely to succeed?  Did you invite doubt, hate and anxiety too? Is it a dinner party now in which you serve up painful memories and unhealed wounds? What is for dessert? Distrust topped with self loathing and hostility? Thought so. So what? What now? 

We dance.

I breathe. I let you in. I welcome you like a good hostess, dressed in my very best. I have been drinking wine. I have been praying. I have been trying. You show up and I act like the good little girl, the dutiful wife, the committed concubine I am. I let you in.

We dance. 

We sway and for the first time, I lead. I direct the movement. I breathe in and I breath out and you disappear. I am left empty but not gutted. Alone but not lonely. You leave and I am a soloist. My heart murmurs softly from within, "thank you." The sweet liberation from it's captor. Just an illusion, yet a very real threat. My heart emerges and fills me with song. Together we dance. Free. Has it not always been the point? Liberation through movement. Yoga was that you?








dear yoga.

I would like to formally thank you for breaking my heart wide open that one fateful night. It was as though you sat in front of me, looked at me dead in the eye and saw me the way no one else ever had.  I was terrified that the walls I built around myself would crumble in that instant. But you were soft at the beginning. You removed them brick by brick, just enough to keep me coming back.

And then some days you were not as gentle, no, some days you held the sledgehammer in your hands. Some days, you hit me harder than others, left me in a pile of rubble and then asked me 'who was I now?' Most days I would quickly rebuild the walls and go on playing my well rehearsed role of perfection and I would come back to you with my tail between my legs knowing that I was a fraud. 

Just when I thought I had the perfect pair yoga pants, drank the right amount of green juice, and slowly batted my eyelashes and folded my hands gracefully in prayer, you ripped me from this act and threw me into the fold of my ugliness, the places I wanted no one ever to see. And as the sweat poured down my body and the tears slid down my cheeks, you invited me into a new pose. One that I was bad at or looked stupid doing and wanted to quit right then and there. You brought me to my knees, yoga.  But then you took me sweetly into savasana and in my broken pieces lay a truth. It was as though it had just hatched, but you told me it had actually been there all along. I thought I would be hollow and empty without these walls, but I was richer than ever before. I thought I would be barren and ugly but I had never felt so beautiful.  You led me into the depths of my own hell, told me to stay and bare witness to it.  You said watch. You said breathe. You said stay. I wanted to run so fast and so far but instead I watched the fire burn. Just like you told me, yoga. And when it was all done, I smudged myself in the ashes and vowed I would tell everyone that there was a way out of pain.

When you laid me down at the end of each practice, I felt a love I had never known. I often wonder how is it that you can continue to hold me in such a generous presence? I remember for a long time thinking…am I worthy of this place?  You whisper to me the answers I have longed for. You tell me open, open, open. And even when I scream fuck right off, you whisper gentle, gentle , gentle. How can you hold me in such roughness? Such resistance? All of us...hating ourselves and hating you. Yet you don’t even flinch. You say ‘see you next time.’ You never get offended when people think you’re a trend, when we try to brand you or say that you are this and you are that. You just let us come in, soaked in grief and doubt or whatever hell we have created and you hold us. You pour honey on our wounds but not before you pour salt. You say, we need to feel before we heal. I have really begun to trust you on that one. So much so that I have built a life around you. Told many people about you. Made my dreams come true because of you. 

Was it you or was it me all along? Did you break me open so I could free the soul that lay hostage inside. The one shaking with a tape pressed against her mouth trying to speak. Were you just a catalyst to remove the conditioning and the blocks of pain that cling tightly to my DNA? Were you here all along to show me myself? To hold up the mirror and force me to meet my own eyes. The same way you sat with me that first time. You said, this is you- look at your fullness and the wisdom you posses. Drop your stories and get on with it girl. There is so much on the other side of this pain. If you get lost, come back and I will always direct you back home. To free you when you have retreated, to see you when you cannot see yourself, to love you when all love is lost.

Thank you for seeing the entire universe within me, yoga. Thank you for not turning away in my darkest hour. Thank you for nudging me into truth.  Thank you for peeling back my layers and showing me the way back home. 

wild woman

I sang a song from the rawest place of myself. Only a tune a wild woman could know. The remembrance of something so instinctual, so sensual, so pure that it emerged from my bones and I was shocked and awed at its grandiose outpouring. I released my spirit from the grips of my ego and fell sweetly into the surrendered field. The earth welcomed me like a sweet child, drenched in honey, bathed in milk. There is yet another form, another version of me arising. From deep within the wound, she springs. Perhaps fiercer than ever. Potent and dripping in blood, quenched with tears and blazing like the hot sun yet cool like the generous moon. She who emerges is the embodiment of all goddesses before her. She is not separate. She is delicate and she is unbreakable. She is coming. She is pouring sweet nectar from the most sacred and sought after parts of her. She unfolds and she unfolds and she unfolds. Her heart beats the hymn of all women. Her eyes, her hips and her dancing limbs allow for greater gateways for a soul untamed. She is wild. She is remembering who she is.

a retreat poem


A poem by Ellen Day Crady, November ladyvana attendee. Written post Savasana. 

Salty Hair
Sea Air
Bald Eagle Screech 
Boulder Beach
So Cold it Hurts
Breathing, Gasping, Comes in Spurts
Yoga, Zen
Turn Your Gaze In
Loud Conversation
Ferry Station
Golden Light
Starry Night
"Fire Master"
Journey Bolder, Faster
Drinking Wine with New Friends,
Erupting into Fits of Laughter
Alive, Rest
Newfound Zest
Long Walks
Heartfelt Talks
Gorgeous Faces
"Sticky" Places
Veggie Meals
Souls Healed
Black LuLu Mats
Cute Warm Hats
Picture takers
Movers, Shakers
Crystal Gifts
Eyes Mist
Sneezing Brings Belief Shifts!
Learning, Yearning
Hearts are Burning
We Can Feel,
The Wheels Start Turning
Free, Alive, Adventure, Power
Closing Down These Last Few Hours
Homeward Bound
Desires Found
Emerge Anew
We Brave Few
For Us, For Them
Breathe It All In
Stack Your Hips
Turn, Twist
Narrow Down the Longer List 
Using This for Different Reasons
Words May Change with Each New Season
Shining Like the Golden Light, 
The Starry Night
Beacons, White
Burning, Burning
Ever Learning
Stretch Yourself
Twisting, Churning
Whispered Words
Being Heard
Shaping, Making
Guiding, Breaking
Heart's Desires 
Light the Fires Onward 
to Some New Direction
These Few Words 
Bring Change, Reflection.