“Stay away from postures like Happy Baby, and Downward Facing Dog.” Those words were ringing in my heart and head, along with a fury so large that it was hard to contain.
On one plain I understood, perfectly.
The statement felt like an indictment.
Once again, someone telling me that there was something I couldn’t or shouldn’t do.
My education in trauma did not come from books.
For me it is not theory, ideas or practicum. For me it was life.
Here isn’t the place for the totality of the story.
There will be a time and place for that.
Here is a place to take up space.
WHY? WHY LIVING MANGALISO?
Why am I adamant to speak, “You are an amazement?” Why is it so important to me to work and re-work through the ideas and methods we walk out?
I look at humanity.
I see the dignity.
I see the light.
I see into eyes.
I see hope.
I see chaos.
I see fear.
I see pain.
I see possibility.
Why Living Mangaliso?
I know what is possible.
Many times it has been said of me and my life, that I couldn’t or shouldn’t something. Many times it has been said, “Broken beyond repair.” Many times I have proven those that say such things wrong. It isn’t that there aren’t moments where their declarations would be correct. It is just that there is a stronger determination within me.
It isn’t to prove them wrong.
It is to show myself, I CAN LIVE.
It is to see that amidst all, I arise.
There is talk in the Trauma-Yoga field about language and postures. I agree with most of the language components. The dismissal of the word, “RELAX,” from our vocabulary; for instance. Except even that, one must ask more questions. It seems alright at first! Right? Of course, don’t use the word. What if they heard that when they were being raped? Let the yoga practice be safe.
Now let me add to this, before going any further. My local studio is AMAZING. There were verbal cues almost two years ago, that would send me immediately into a triggered state. It was when in Warrior II, the instructor would say something like, extend your arms out as if you are being pulled apart. Except if you have seen that happen to someone you love, and loved dearly, then being pulled apart isn’t an euphemism. It is a reality. One that is still lodged somewhere within the heart and mind. One full of pain. I approached the owner. Said minimal. In almost two years, I have never heard that cue again. Not in any class, not with any instructor.
AMAZING! Right. That is the heart beat of yoga.
So is there never a time to change verbal cues, words used or the removal of postures? There is a time. A TIME. A season. What are we working towards? Within a conversation that I would have yesterday, this reality came up. Not about yoga, per se; more in general about people who have survived a traumatic event or events.
I am very passionate about this subject.
I loved my trauma informed yoga class. I disagreed with much. I would do it again. I loved my PTSD and Veterans training class, there is much I would do differently. I am not a doctor, I do not have my PhD. Not in formal education. I just know that as one who has PTSD, as one who has an extensive trauma history, I work hard to not be identified with its limitations. I don’t deny triggers. Above story, case in point. I just don’t want them to own me.
So what do I say?
I say I’ll hold the space for you. In the darkest of times, I will light a candle. In the darkest of times, I will be light. In the darkest of spaces, I will hold a hand out to you. I will walk silently with you, I will listen, I will share a quiet word, I will create space for you to shout. In the darkest of times, you don’t have to be alone. THAT is what I will say to you.
I say even if it takes 6 months, or even if it takes 5 years; there isn’t a posture I CAN’T do. There aren’t verbal cues, I don’t want to try and be able to hear. Happy Baby, I teach it! Downward Facing Dog, same thing. Am I aware? Yes. Does it all take time? YES! But if we say never, then what we are saying is that the event that brought harm into our lives will always live as a dominant force. I am not willing to concede that.
So my hope and desire is that the Living Mangaliso Method becomes an incredible standard of what Trauma informed yoga can be, when healing and wholeness is at the foundation. When we celebrate that the reality of all things; is YOU! You are an “I.” You are a person, who inhabits a body. You are a person, who inhabits a body and takes up space. Those are very good things. If it takes you 6 months, if it takes you a year, if it takes you five years or more; we will walk with you. You will inhabit your body! You will find ease within your breath. You will own the home that is you! You will take up residence. You will expand.
This isn’t hype. This is the story of my life. I still struggle with certain cues. I still struggle with the reality and need of food, for the physical body to thrive. I still struggle. I like certainty. I like consistency. I like freedom more. It is a journey. A journey of healing. A journey of hope, of strength, of passion and compassion. It is walking with and using stillness, silence, meditation, focus and rest. It is going slowly in the physical asana practice. Allowing the body, breath, and awareness to catch up with one another. Allowing them to UNITE. For that is yoga. Yoga is the bringing together; the body, the breath, and awareness. It takes time for breath and movement to align. It takes time to learn how one can move and be and inhabit their own body. It takes time to bring the mind and awareness into that mix. It all takes time.
WHAT DID I PROMISE YOU? WHAT AS LIVING MANGALISO DID I PROMISE YOU?
The journey is hard! RIGHT!?!?! JFK’s speech! We go to the moon and endeavor to do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
YOU are WORTH the EFFORT. You are worth walking with, empowering you back into your life, into your body, into your practice.
I will never tell you that you can’t do a posture. I will walk with you. When you are ready there is nothing you can’t do. The very real shadowlands of the trauma you endured, don’t get to lay their tentacles into the entirety of your life.
You are an I. In your personhood you inhabit a body, in inhabiting a body you take up space. Those are all great things.