Flexible*

*Nothing I write about yoga is ever really about yoga.

On Monday, I saw the light in hot yoga class.  Not as in, “saw the light,” but as in, “Katherine! DO NOT GO INTO THE LIGHT.”  It was the hottest class I’ve ever done. After your first few classes, you stop being bothered by the heat, but this? This was brutal. I was next to the heater, which is my favorite spot unless I am about to wither and perish.   It was relentless.

The good news is, something fizzled out in me in the first five minutes, and I did not have any energy to struggle against the yoga guy who always runs class off the rails and makes us try new things.  I didn’t have any energy for yoga rage.  I just went with it.

At one point he said, “Who thinks this pose is hard?” and I raised my hand just a tiny bit.  He saw a smattering of hands, halfway up indicating struggle, and he said,  “HIGH! Raise them high.”  So we did.  And then there was the dreaded, “You.  I saw you first.  I am coming to help you.”  

Eff.

“Tell everyone what’s hard about this pose,” he commanded. Mumble mumble mumble,” I said.  Meaning, I think, I’m always afraid my strength will give out and I’ll topple over.  You have to stand like that for what feels like an eternity.  Eternity is longer if you’re in the hot seat.

It was a long and painful three minutes.  But he did help me.  Mainly he stood behind me and watched, which terrified me into not letting my standing leg wobble, and then he also poked me in the sides which straightened my back, and he called everyone’s attention to my not falling over, which forced my hand and made me straighten my other leg, bend my elbows, and put my forehead on my knee.

I can not actually do that pose.  But I did it anyway.  It wasn’t that bad.

In contrast, tonight was a calm, slow, orderly class, just like I like it.  The thing is, having pushed myself hard on Monday struggling every step of the way, today was kind of easy.  Apparently I opened some things up, gave myself a little breathing space.

Here are my assorted thoughts from the week:

1) Everyone is hot.  Calling attention to it doesn’t help.

2) When you’re given time to rest, be still.  Futzing around will only make things harder, in the long run.  Every minute you spend straightening your towel, sighing, or adjusting your hair is a minute you don’t spend breathing deeply.  Don’t waste your time on distractions. You need every single breath for strength.

3) When your heart is racing, count as you take a slow breath in, and then calmly breathe out for a few seconds longer than that.  It sends a signal to your body that you’re fine. You’ll feel better almost instantly.

4) Every day is different.  Some days your goal is to stay upright and do the best you can.  Some days you feel like pushing your own limits and seeing what you can do.  Both kinds of days are fine.  It’s all part of the balance.

5) Looking ridiculous?  We’re all looking ridiculous. Doesn’t matter a bit. Nobody cares.

6) Stay in the moment.  Go ahead and push yourself to your personal best, but it’s bad form to race ahead of everyone else, even when you know exactly what’s next.  This is a team effort.  This is collaboration.   We’re all in this together.

7) Go ahead.  Try something new.  See how far you can go.  You’ll surprise yourself.  Tomorrow just might be different from yesterday.  Be open to the possibility.

It’s been an eventful few weeks, y’all.  I’m practicing balance.  You?

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