Beginning about six years ago, right after I got married and bought my first house, I started yelling. My mom might disagree and suggest that it started much earlier, which maybe it did, but for awhile I had done enough yoga, meditation, therapy and communication workshops to learn other ways of both containing and expressing myself. I stayed calm a lot of the time and although I always had the ability to lose my temper, it didn’t happen all that often.
Soon I had my first child, opened a business and was deep in debt from fixing up our first house. The yelling continued. It didn’t happen in public, certainly not while I was teaching, but rather at home, with my family, especially my husband. At times it was as if I got caught in a tornado and felt like I had no control of what was happening. After I would finish, there was a moment where I saw what had just happened and felt confusion and sadness that I had acted with so much aggression.
As time moved on, both my financial and personal responsibilities began to add up. I now had two kids and two houses and the business had grown. The explosions happened regularly and I began to feel confused, not really understanding why I could not contain myself. I continued to practice regularly. I talked about it with my meditation teacher who encouraged me to be forgiving toward myself and to recognize that on the other side of anger is compassion. Through meditation and yoga practice I could get calm, but maintaining the calm, that felt like a real challenge. Sometimes I found that after practice I was actually more likely to explode, when my calm felt so quickly interrupted by the demands of regular life.
Then I went to visit Katie, a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor. I was having pain after the birth of my second child and after hearing a couple people talk about having real breakthrough experiences going to see Katie, I made an appointment. She was scheduling a month out so I waited and when I finally got in to see her, she examined me and told me that my pelvic floor was extremely TIGHT. I had been carrying around a lot of tension in the pelvic floor for what she said was probably a very long time. I am thinking probably since I was 16 if not earlier. Being a yogini, I had worked a lot with learning how to relax my pelvic floor and with how to engage moola bandha. I thought I had a sense of the musculature, but turns out I didn’t. I was in a little bit of shock to find out that I knew so little about a part of my body that I used all the time. That was the beginning of the break through.
Katie gave me exercises and techniques to do in order to teach the pelvic floor muscles to relax more. My awareness of whether I was gripping or releasing changed. I started to practice relaxing my pelvic floor. I started to feel when I was tensing up. It was a tender time where emotionally I felt very vulnerable and at times, even anxious as this new habit of release began to set in. Yet something else also began to happen. I stopped yelling.
Somehow the gripping at my root had been manifesting in explosive bursts of anger. My yelling was stemming not so much from my mouth but more from my insistence to hold on and want to control, all of it gripping at the very base of my spine. I had been holding in so much tension it was like an explosion waiting to happen but when I stopped holding onto, and started to release the tension, calm flowed in. I didn’t have the instant need to yell. It became easier to pause and take a deep breath and in general, I started to feel more space, both in body and mind.
This began a healing process within myself but also in my relationship with my husband. As I became more vulnerable I began to see him more easily with love and compassion. I can’t say that I don’t ever lose my temper anymore, but it happens much less often. When I notice the urge to control, the feeling of gripping at the root, I recognize this as a need to take time to breathe down into the pelvis and trust that I am safe.
Emily Garrett teaches yoga at Laughing River Yoga in Burlington, VT. She continues to heal through yoga, meditation, therapy, and acupuncture and is passionate about learning more, and teaching, about the pelvic floor through yoga.