Last Monday morning, with a cup of coffee in hand, I grabbed the Saturday NYTimes and hunkered-down in bed. I pulled out a special section titled, “America’s Mothers are in Crisis. Is anyone listening to them?” I read that a group of mothers regularly gather in New Jersey to scream in a park, hopefully, to let everything out. The NYTimes, inspired by these Jersey moms, created a hotline where mothers can call and leave a 60-second message where they can scream, vent, cry or do whatever they need to do to release their pain and frustration.
This past summer, my mother would wait until everyone had left the house, go into Joseph’s apartment, and scream out her pain. With no one around, she felt safe to release her grief. As for myself, in the wake of Joe’s passing, I had visions of going to Ikea, buying plates and smashing all of those plates to the ground. In our society, these ways of releasing energy aren’t deemed socially acceptable and we are taught to suppress these urges from birth. As children, we are told, “shhhhh, don’t cry.” Later it becomes, “don’t make a scene.” Dick Van Dyke sang in Bye, Bye Birdie “Just put on a happy face,” and that’s exactly what many of us do.
In reality we are far from good and may have a multitude of valid reasons to scream and shatter glass. In private, we are screaming into pillows or hot showers, or fantasizing about breaking the very walls around us to pieces. I’ve found that the more I swallow down, the more the hurt lingers and gains strength. So how do we get it out? Yoga can’t help us release everything, but it can offer smaller gestures that allow the howl to be heard.
We roll out our yoga mats, feel our feet on the floor, knees bent deep, hips in a goddess squat, stick out our tongues, bug out our eyes AND ROAR! We shake out our heads and necks in a down dog, allowing that vibration to act as an exorcism, releasing our frustration. Or we flutter our lips, take a breath in and a long exhale out, and pump our belly with Kapalabhati breathwork. Yoga may not be the plate-smashing, pillow-screaming, Garden State-level roar that we crave during the sad, heavy losses and periods of painful doubt. But it does offer a series of gestures to release the scream that resides in our shoulders, jaws and hips. Maybe those gestures will inspire us to make that trip to Ikea, break those plates and not feel shame, because we know that we are in this together.
Move with love.
The Wipe Off
This exercise was gifted to me by my dear friend, Arielle
Ok, it’s the end of the day
or mid day
or anytime of day
And your mind floats back to a challenging moment from earlier –
One of those- “they said what?” or “Oh, no they betta don’t.” or You made a mistake. Or You said the wrong thing.
Your knee jerk reaction might be to lose your sh*t by hooting and hollering or get out the whip and start beating yourself up.
Instead, What if you do, The Wipe Off?
Beginning: Start with feet sturdy on the ground, a little bend in the knees, loose booty, loose belly, head held high.
Middle: Take one arm and LITERALLY wipe the toxic energy away from your shoulders down to fingers. Do the other arm. Then, Wipe off your face, chest, belly, hips, legs. Repeat as many times as needed.
*taking my advice and doing this today 🙂