politics, yoga

I want to live in a democracy

I want to live in a democracy.

Resting in corpse pose after finishing my yoga practice, this is the thought that pops into my head. I’m angry about the election of The Donald, and all the evidence that suggests his leadership will prove more authoritarian and oligarchical than presidential. He hasn’t even taken office yet, but I’ve yet to see anything to reassure me that human rights, the environment, and more, aren’t under serious attack. Then, sarcasm:


Followed by a monologue on freedom, from myself to myself:

Because you don’t act like it.

You are letting the most fearful part of yourself – that one spot in your lower back – control your whole being. That’s not democracy. That’s terrorism.

I hate it when I’m right.

For the past year, I’ve been working on backbends – specifically drop-backs. Going from standing to wheel posture in a single breath, then standing back up.

But not really. My lower back is glitchy. Scoliosis, tight psoas, whatever. I stopped attempting the drop backs with my teacher’s help when my teacher started helping less. She has more confidence in my ability than I do. I really do not want to lift my heels off the ground, as suggested. My back seizes up when I feel afraid – which is what dropping back triggers for me. Lots and lots of fear. Plus, I know I can’t stand back up by myself.

At least I now know better than to get angry about my back pain (hilarious that I used to do that!). I decided to focus on building strength with the back-bending postures that didn’t trigger so much fear – and completely skip drop backs, assisted or not.

It worked. My back got stronger. But since I was unwittingly still operating under the “there’s something wrong with me” mindset, I was no closer to dropping back. What started as a real, valid concern (my back hurts and needs some TLC) had grown out of control. I didn’t even want to drop back. I was terrified, completely resistant, and jealous that everyone else (really?) could do this seemingly impossible action – even people whose backs didn’t appear to bend at all somehow managed it!

I want to live in a democracy.

Most of me wants to learn and grow. Most of me thinks that I am capable. But parts of me just want to be left alone. Parts of me still feel like ashamed little victims that lash out viciously when poked. Other parts are power-hungry dictators who overstep their bounds and lock up other parts in mental cages. So, it’s time to free the hostages. If I live in a democracy, I don’t have the luxury of imprisoning the innocent, scapegoating the immigrants, or blaming the victims in order to make my dictator of an ego feel okay with itself. I also can’t be mean to my ego, because she belongs here, too.

2017 is going to be an interesting year for my democracy – and ours. How about yours?

(It has been a few weeks since my “free the hostages!” epiphany, and I’ve started attempting drop backs again – assisted, although a few times my teacher has just stood there, hands off,  until she helps me back up. My breathing is calmer and my mind is steadier. It is becoming easier to believe that I can do this.)