Embodied Self Regulation: How the Vayus help us
In February of 2020, after years of struggle and misdiagnosis, I was diagnosed with PTSD. The year that followed focused on therapy, filled with tears and healing. I never expected the vayus would be so helpful.
Part of the healing came from looking at my past and present with fresh eyes; embodying this experience allowed me to understand how my experiences were living in my body. Look into my patterns and the beliefs I have developed over my life. It wasn’t easy and a continual work in progress. But each time I do it, I find the freedom I never dreamed was possible.
Finding the pain inside me
When I was twelve, my life changed dramatically when my grandfather hitchhiked out of our lives one afternoon. At that moment, everything I knew changed. It would take many years before he returned to us. This experience was a time of great suffering for my family and me.
When he returned, I remember visiting my grandmother’s house to see him. I can see now that I expected some grandiose reason that would make sense of it all. Everyone was looking for an explanation that would take away the pain. The truth was lies had caught up with him, and he was scared, so he left to avoid facing reality. As I sat in that room, watching and listening, I couldn’t believe that this person who had been more significant than life to me was not who I thought he was. The pain I felt and that I saw in my family was unimaginable.
I didn’t know then the story that I made up to survive. I decided I would never again allow someone to hurt or lie to me at this moment. This is where my pattern began. But how? How could I protect myself?
To find this, I needed to look back at my patterns with relationships. Then, to get honest about who I had become and how it affected me today.
Looking in the mirror
Fast forward to July of 2020. I am sitting in the comfy brown chair of my therapist’s office, and I begin to see it all. (Read more about my recovery)
Here is what I found. I had spent the 25 years following this moment playing out a pattern repeatedly.
When a mentor didn’t do what they said, I couldn’t allow myself to experience their word not being met. So instead of asking questions or allowing myself to be disappointed, I would overlook it, even make excuses for them, and take on the work myself. I had let them in and needed them to be who they said they were, even if it meant I did the job.
When I would move the bar of success further away, I couldn’t be who I said I was for them. So instead of speaking up or challenging it. I would burn myself out working to meet the new expectations. I could no longer be what they expected me to be.
I taught my kids to problem solve, self-soothe, and be self-reliant. While I was there for them for anything, the more important message was always you had to be responsible for your needs. I couldn’t face someone hurting them one day, so I attempted to raise them so strong that no one could break them.
In my closest relationship with my husband, when he asked what I needed, I would tell him only partial truths or even change the bar if he ever met it, so he could never truly meet my needs. I couldn’t let him in so deeply because he, too, could leave at any moment.
I was finally able to see how the lies and pain were the sources of my way of being. I could see that I had taken all this on because I couldn’t lose who my grandpa was for me. I could see each person I had replayed this role with, the mentors, the bosses. Each time their actions clearly showed they were not who they said they were, I couldn’t just let them go. I had to restore their integrity. I had to make it work.
I thought I had been careful with who I let into my life. I thought I had chosen the right people, people who cared. I never saw it coming, I couldn’t allow it to continue, so I did everything not to relive the pain.
Embodying the Vayus
In yoga, we believe that health allows our experiences to move through us. And it is our vayus, or winds of energetic movement, that will enable us to move our experiences through us. The practice of the vayus allows us to connect with life’s energy, to carry it peacefully through us. By understanding how the winds move within us, we can embody them with authenticity, peace, and connection in our practice and lives.
Sitting in my therapist’s office, being present with me and with acknowledgment, clarity, and freedom, I felt my feet connected to the ground. I let go of self-judgment (Apana Vayu). While breathing deeply, I began processing what I had experienced (Samana Vayu).
Shortly after, I raised my head, softened my gaze, and started sharing my discovery with my therapist (Udana Vayu).
That day, I saw a new way forward with self-compassion for myself—an opportunity to finally allow the memories and trauma to move through (Vyana Vayu).
Then, I said, “I can trust that who someone is being, is who they are, and myself to let them go” (Prana Vayu).
The embodied experience of my vayus allowed me to let it all go genuinely.
Our liberation from suffering comes when we work with the energy within us and not against it. We allow peace of mind and clarity with the world within us and around us. It supports our alignment with our values and our true self.
- Prana Vayu – The intake of experiences external stimulations, which is affected by our perception
- Samana Vayu – The digestion and discernment of what we take in through Prana Vayu
- Udana Vayu – The upwards release through speech, expression and spiritual connection
- Apana Vayu – The downwards release through letting go, elimination
- Vyana Vayu – The release of energy from the core of the body through to extremities
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