I've got your back!

I’ve got your back!

It’s one of my favourite expressions. I’m here for you. Not in your face, I’m just quietly supporting you. I’ll catch if you fall. I’m here if you feel weak. 

It’s possibly one of our earliest memories, toddling along in life with a presence just there, just behind us. Maybe just beyond our line of vision but noticeably there all the same. 

Our parents, our family. Then our friends, loved ones, partners. We’ve all experienced, multiple times, that comforting knowledge that somebody, right there, has got our back. 

What happens when that just disappears? 

What happens when the person you thought had your back doesn’t, in fact, have your back at all. When that moment dawns and you realise nobody has your back, what do you do then? We’ve all experienced it momentarily, to differing degrees, the awful dawning that all is not what it seemed, and you are, in fact, completely alone. 

What do you do? You go to yoga. 

I had the very good fortune at a significant time in my life to come across a very wise, completely gorgeous, fun, inspirational yoga teacher, Tahnee Fournier. <3 She happened upon me at a time in my life when I had no idea that I rounded my shoulders so much. 

I had been practicing yoga a few years, I was fairly new to teaching and I was just starting to deepen my awareness of my physical body, particularly the little details heretofore ignored, primarily the upper third of my back.

We were at a packed yoga workshop, a heaving, sweaty room. We spent close to two hours aligning and strengthening our back bodies. As we moved, our wise teacher guided our thoughts, our awareness, to our upper backs. It was a strong practice, we worked hard. We sweated, we flowed, we tried our hardest. 

‘Soften your chest, your throat, your neck’, she encouraged us, ‘your back body is supporting you.’ As an endless worrier this all felt brand new to me and it felt really good. 

When we believe in ourselves we trust our back bodies, she explained to us. You trust in the stuff you can’t necessarily see … you trust in the universe. When you trust in the universe to support you, it will. You just need to find the courage to trust your back body, to find the strength and stability to remain supported, and then you can soften and open up. It makes sense, right?

As I lay in savasana after my practice, I thought about this. Somehow, all I have to do is trust “The Universe” - whoever that might be - and everything will be ok. Really? I had a small dawning, a little softening. A tear formed in the corner of my eye. Maybe I was strong enough, maybe everything really could be ok if I could just let go and trust. The tear quietly rolled out and down the side my face followed by another. In accepting this thought there was no going back, there could only be change. Maybe I could remain strong and supported and just open up a tiny bit to new possibilities for the future. The tears continued to pour out, quietly dripping into little puddles on my yoga mat underneath me.  

Yoga teaches us to be strong. It’s not in your face. It’s a quieter strength, it’s less obvious on the outside and it runs a little deeper. It helps you soften and open up and remain calm and steady in the face of strong challenges. 

I’ve got my back. 

And “The Universe”, it turns out, is the abundance of love and support that rushes in at vulnerable times in life. Loved ones and best friends, new friends, wise teachers, and the unexpected kindness of once strangers. 

“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.


Sylvia Ferguson