Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain


by Janna Leyde

Oscillations - Happy Heart Day - Janna Leyde

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

― Rumi

What yogi doesn’t love Rumi? It is, after all, Valentines Day, so it was no surprise when I ran across this particular quote on Shiva Rea’s Facebook page. I’m really starting to believe that we see the things we need to see when we need to, so I immediately stopped what I was working on and lead myself through a little dog down sequence that ended in Camel. A long Camel—ten languid breaths, long enough to check in.

Ah, yes. Thank you Rumi, Shiva, Facebook, because I had really needed that. I got back to work, feeling a little more sparkly about life and love than I had before. Thank you, Camel.

There is something about Ustrasana. It’s the peak pose that I’ll keep tucked away until the day when my dad’s body will be able to go there. I mean, Ustrasana, that’s a pose where you are really going there. One day I want him to experience that. I know how much I am my father’s daughter. Even though it’s mostly across the canyon that is his brain injury, we still share so much—music, humor, passion, puns, impatience, curiosity, and I know he will he will have the same love for Camel that I do.

I remember the first time I dropped back into Camel Pose. The summer of 2005, two floors up in the stagnant 110 degree air of the Bikram studio that used to be on Spring Street. It was my first ever Bikram class and the teacher had hit the nail on the head: “Now Ustrasana may bring stuff up. Some of you many want to cry or laugh or throw up.” Eh, big deal, because I’ve done full wheel before, I thought as I tipped back into the support of my own hands. I lifted my chest. I closed my eyes. I breathed. And then I felt it, the crack. It was if someone had tapped my chest—right at that orb of energy around my heart chakra, the place a psychic had told me I had trouble accessing—just so with a hammer, and it cracked. Just cracked and fell to pieces as if it were made of clay.

Wow, yes. I do want to throw up and cry and laugh all at once. I pulled myself out of that pose so fast, too flabbergasted by that equally awful and illuminating sensation to notice the what-are-you-doing face the teacher was giving me. I chugged my water. I felt lighter, and lighter still when I tried it again hours later on the hardwood floor of my living room.

Since then I’ve cracked open anahata with many a Camel. I’ve cried and I’ve laughed. I’ve gone deep or I’ve stayed in the shallows. The backbend is different for me every single time. Camel was the first thing I did the morning of my 30th birthday. It was the first pose I did the first time I could do yoga on a beach. I did it when I realized that Holy Shit!! I was going to be a published author! I took off my heels and did Camel in the back room of the church before my grandpa’s funeral.

I’m learning about myself and I’m learning about my yoga. I am unabashedly love-seeking. I know the barriers I build. I know what I build them against, even though sometimes I don’t know why I do it. Camel always breaks them down. I lean back and the barriers crack and fall to pieces. Then more things happen, life continues, and the barriers build back up. I don’t want them to and maybe someday they won’t. Until then, I’ll always have Camel.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” 

― Rumi

Janna Leyde is a yogi and writer living in Brooklyn. When she’s not on her mat or at the front of the room teaching, she is working on publishing her first novel, He Never Liked Cake, a coming of age memoir that tells the story of growing up with her father’s traumatic brain injury. Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain offers her perspective on the practice through the lens of the complex human brain.


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This entry was posted in OSCILLATIONS: A YOGIC EXPLORATION OF THE BRAIN and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain

  1. I adore your writing. Simply amazingly beautiful. Every time you touch me. Thank you, gorgeous.

  2. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

  3. Pingback: From Oscillations… Yoga and Writing. Writing and Yoga. | neverlikedcake

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