Letting Go: An Ordinary Womans Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation

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For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity. Like the ocean, tears are salt water. Protectively they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free.

Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.


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Emotional tears have special health benefits. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating. Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart.

I was trying hard not to. It makes me feel weak. I have the ability to silence all the noise in my head through yoga. It helps me to calm down or be lifted up. Yoga continues to teach me coping and life skills. Yoga soothes me. That is a priceless gift to me.

I have always had a lot of anxiety. I sometimes think my substance abuse was a response to this. To be able to be soothed by others and to be able to self-soothe is incredible. Yoga is continuously helping me to heal. The human connection the yoga community provides me has replaced the unhealthy people, places, and things I once engaged with.

The Healing Power of Tears

Practicing yoga helps me to transform the pain of my past into strength. Yoga has given me the ability to access a feeling of safety both in and out of the classroom. It has also given me a greater sense of self-worth and helped me to cultivate kinder self-talk. I came into recovery lacking a sense of identity. Practicing yoga has taught me about myself, and helped me to get in touch with who I am. I feel that spending time in the past can be really unproductive, especially when the past involves trauma or brings up feelings of shame or guilt.

Yoga has taught me how to access the present moment, which is so important to my recovery.

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For those of us in recovery from addiction, substances were once our primary coping tool. Yoga provides many of the effects that I was subconsciously searching for in my addiction without any of the repercussions.

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Yoga gives me permission to let go of worry, at least while I am practicing. In January of , I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. I went through a mastectomy and axillary dissection. The axillary dissection caused lymphedema, or swelling, in my left arm because the nodes were no longer there to process lymphatic fluid.

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I started yoga off and on when I was 20 but became committed when I was I practiced Bikram yoga until , which helped me sweat out the residual chemo poisons, but it did not help with my lymphedema. When Teri Poch started an aerial yoga studio in , she said it would be good for my lymphedema. In class, the aerial yoga hammock moves the fluid. The other side effect from chemo is peripheral neuropathy. It feels like you have stones in your shoes where you used to have toes and the ball of your foot.

You no longer feel things directly—all you feel is pressure. I had several bad falls, one requiring surgery for a shattered orbit of my eye. The hammocks help with that. Now, I can actually feel the direct sensation of touching my foot. There are so many women suffering from lymphedema and peripheral neuropathy. Recovery is active, not passive, so I encourage other people who have gone through this experience to try out aerial yoga.

Aerial is like playing. You have a blast doing it. I find yoga really helps calm me down from the stresses of my job, and aids with the insomnia from the medication I take to suppress all estrogen in my body since I had an estrogen-sensitive tumor.


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Can I let these things go, and have some time for me? When I was a year-old punk kid in Northern California, my heart was more thoroughly broken than ever before. I wanted to die.

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Instead, I went walking down a side street and came across a yoga studio. I felt my body surrender into gravity, laying in the stillness of the dark studio, and in that surrender I touched something deep within myself that was tender and open, a basic and invincible goodness at the core of my life. Ever since I was a child, I struggled with depression, intrusive thoughts, and toxic guilt; as I hit my 20s, these hit a dangerous peak.

Yoga and meditation gave me moments of respite from the pain, and enabled me to experience the basic goodness that is the core of reality and the core of my identity.


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I started teaching five years ago, and right when I was getting started a very wise teacher pointed something out to me: Before you become a teacher, your practice is fundamentally to benefit yourself. However, once you become a teacher, your yoga practice is fundamentally to benefit your students, and your teaching becomes the practice that benefits you. The act of teaching yoga is an act of throwing yourself into a crucible, and the light and heat of that crucible has been transformative for every aspect of my life.

And then I experience a herniated disc in my neck. And this certainly has been true for me. An injury in the neck points to an issue with the throat chakra, the energetic center of communication—both listening and speaking your truth. When I was able to practice again after months away I was oozing gratitude for just being able to step on my mat.

Judith Orloff M.D.

After that, I moved into a protected and tentative place for a long time. There were ways to make my practice expand, not only with asana but with meditation, mantra, Reiki, and most of all in my off-the-mat practice. Have that difficult conversation. Stand up for what you believe in. We are alive, so we have the potential to be happy and find love and also to get hurt in all sorts of ways.

For many years in my sobriety, I remained unhappy, angry and ill-at-ease with my life. I gained a reputation at work as being difficult, abrasive and short-tempered.