The philosophy of yoga art: corporeal healing

Yoga: art from Nafs: breathing solo art exhibition – ‘interior room – interscendent’.

When words fail me: I heal in full colour

I have found it difficult to verbalise my experiences of trauma. It is as though the confines of language, the rhythms, syntax, semantics, practices and gestures have failed me.  I fall into a template of speech that can never adequately handle and shape a representation of being in with an embodied memory. How is it to heal and reclaim agency over my body wrenched? … removed? … stolen? … temporarily lost? … distanced? … from me?

Instead I tell details of time and place and person.

Or I tell details of loneliness and depression and insecurity. For these there are many descriptions, many turns of phrase and ways to make my story legible.

But this narrative irritates me, and telling it leaves me unsatisfied. I feel like I victimize myself by repeatedly stumbling into melancholic sentimentality. Through this process I am not shaping a path of recovery. Rather, I am squeezing myself into an ill-fitting cliché: I talk about emotions, shame and hating my body.

If I want to reject sentimentality, I am confronted with the other formula – ‘survivourhood’ and triumphalism. I do not want to be a survivor – what have I survived and when do I stop surviving and start living … loving? Surviving implies I am at odds with my circumstance. I do not want to fight with my body, concreting stasis and heaviness.

Continuously uttering these words and storylines that are not mine moves my past further and further away from comprehension.

Words are not sufficient to heal. Ultimately the narrative is corporal:

Healing is navigating my own body and freeing the dark, odorous blockages and stasis in my pelvis, stomach, chest and neck.

Healing is breathing life and light into my body day by day.

Healing is accepting what my body can do today.

Healing is learning to love what my body does today.

Healing is observing colour and light within so I can see it again without: letting the energy flow unobstructed in me, so I can flow in my life unobstructed.

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3 thoughts on “The philosophy of yoga art: corporeal healing

  1. Your words have touched me and softened my heart. As I too, am navigating the healing path of trauma, I really connected with your words. The last six months has seen me use art as a form of therapy rather than just for fun, and I am inspired to read your journey with it too. It reminds me how important it is to give yourself the time, and how it really does heal. So thank you. Your painting at the top of this post is incredible beautiful and full of emotion and meaning I would love to hear more about. x

    • I am humbled to have such a heartfelt response from you! See the post I have just published on the artworks that accompany this prose – the painting on top you refer to is from Vrscikasana. The circular movements are to me at once chakra centres, consciousness and balance. I loved how the paint bubbled and smudges when creating them, giving them a very vital and sensual feel in their imperfections – they are all very feminine. Shanti

      • Only just seen this reply! I loved the next post you published, and your description of how the paintings/style has changed alongside your journey. I too, find it amazing to watch the change in what we paint as we process ‘stuff’. I got into the pattern of thinking specifically of an event and painting whatever came out, when thinking of it, and it’s just so cool to watch the colours, lines, shapes or styles change as your connection and feeling towards whatever happened, changes too. Love the femininity, and the joy, that leaps out of the page too. x

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