Carl Jung

Yoga can either improve your mood, or “let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.”

This, according to The Washington Post, is what psychiatrist Carl Jung thought about yoga.

I look at my yoga as a workout. It keeps me in shape. In fact, I only started yoga because a studio opened nearby, and I lost my last excuse to not work out.

Yoga worked fast on my body. I got very tone, very quickly.

In a few short months, I saw muscles in my arms, legs and torso for the first time. I even saw a picture of myself in a Handstand and realized I had muscles in my back.

I went for a medical visit only to have the doctor exclaim about my lack of body fat.

All thanks to yoga.

Plus, I was on a yoga high for so long. Every day was a good day, and I saw the positive side of everything.

Indeed, Carl Jung was right. Yoga improved my mood.

When the instructor said that hip openers, like Pigeon pose, released emotions, I sort of doubted that.

To me, Pigeon pose was just a position where we lay prone on our mats with one leg bent and tucked up underneath us. Not too comfortable but a good stretch after a long workout.

I also sort of doubted when the instructor told me that my quads hold anger. What did I have to be angry about? Life was good. I felt good. Yoga was good.

So I would say that, for a good while, I was in agreement with Jung’s first thought: That yoga improves your mood.

Yoga opened up something in me. Little by little, over a long stretch, the classes sort of melted me, and I felt like I was doing some long overdue healing. I felt strong and spirited for the first time in a long time. 

But then something strange happened. All sorts of things came up for me. And I doubted myself greatly because the difficult feelings that started bubbling up did not seem to mesh with my newfound self and my newfound outlook.

The instructor also told me that Backbends were heart openers. I sort of doubted that, too. I was just proud to finally accomplish the pose.

I was told Dancer, a standing Backbend, was a heart opener, as well. Boy, I hated those heart openers, and Dancer was the worst!

The more I excelled at the poses, the more so many emotions emerged. And this caught me off guard.

Suddenly, it seemed that what I had put behind me was right in front of me. Old wounds and the like were new again. So much of the the changing I thought I had done over so many years was brought back into question – by me!

I was surprised to find myself in great shape on the outside but not so much on the inside. And, apparently, the inside does not whip into shape as quickly as the outside.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do, which was to persevere through the poses and even through what they seemed to bring forth.

And on some days, it seemed like Carl Jung must have met me when he said that yoga can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed.

On those days, I had wanted to quit. Instead, I stayed in it and am glad for it.

And finally my insides have seemingly whipped into better shape, aligning more with my outsides.

As Carl Jung suggested, the impact of the practice is pretty profound. Luckily, for me, it has served as teacher and healer in one.