Yoga as Healing

“Art is a wound turned into light.” -Georges Braque

I’m in a yoga class for survivors of sexual assault. It’s called “Yoga as Healing” and it’s wonderful and that’s all I’m gonna say on that point for now.

I’m not sure what exactly the woman said. Towards the end of a section of class dedication to artistic expression, our featured instructor had us wrap up our first painting. We’d been instructed to react to whatever subject she described with the specific color and imagery inspired by what she said, all in a non-judgmental way. My “safe space” became a green, grassy border with a pale blue sky above. My “letting go of my thoughts” was purple and white wisps, vanishing upwards. My “something that give me hope” was black imprints of my lips and red imprints of my hands. The reminders of my own power remain powerful, and that’s a comforting thought.

Then she said something, I’m unsure of what exactly, to open the actions for our final canvas. All I know is it was something to the effect of: “You are beautiful. You are enough.” Then there were tears streaming down my face.

I tossed the paintbrush. I dumped paint on the tiny canvas. I swirled it about with my fingers. I noted that I had used so much green beforehand — it represented both “strength” and “safety” for me in other exercises — that none had dripped onto this last piece. The other colors folded into one another until the white rectangle a blended ying yang-like pattern of black-ish blue and pale-ish pink. My fingertips dotted the opposing corners with petal-like prints from the other side. My hand found the brush again and dug the remnants of green from the center container in my paint set, and I blotted a dot in the middle.

My piece was done, so I wrote on myself-

I picked up the phrase written on the canvas mat by a previous painter: “Trust Yourself”

I added the words that will soon be inked on my skin permanently: “Acenda Uma Vela”

I remembered the words I had written months earlier: “Very Much Alive”

I read the name of the group this lovely instructor now ran: “Inspired Artistry”

Lastly, I wrote the fear that was both lurking in the shadows and dominating my vision: “Don’t Want to Waste”

I considered at lease some part of me a waste. Don’t want to waste paint or supplies. Don’t waste time, either your own or other people’s. Don’t waste life.

The woman was speaking again. “Know that we can move the world from this place and you can always come back here, because it is within you.” We were painting our place of strength. We were painting our place or peace. I must remember.

The final line from Eve Ensler’s “And Then We Were Jumping” came to mind:

“When I wake up I think… Oh, this is it. This is justice.”

The bell I hear every yoga class rings three times. The ringing swirls into silence.

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