I was on my yoga mat this morning, sweat dripping before class even started. Practicing in a room that is on average 105 degrees has it’s ups and downs. This morning, I was thankful for my mid-August beach heat trapped into this room because it was a cutting 27 degrees this morning at 6:30 when I initially got up. The temperature didn’t vary too much by the time my 8:30 a.m. session started – still a freezing 31 degrees outside. Before leaving the toasty comforts of home I run into a huge problem: deciding what to wear. On days like today when I’m headed to hot yoga it can appear as though I’ve had a geographical mishap within my closet, or that I’m just insane enough to embrace the prickling and tingling of the wind and lack of sunshine. Yoga clothes are known for their absence of feeling on the body – light, airy, normally very soft and pleasant – unlike their work-out-counterparts like sweatpants which offer elastic at the waist and ankles (no wind intrusions), thicker and heavier material with possibly some light fleece, and the abundance of extra material that really can hide your figure. Hot yoga however is not the place for this accommodation, and sadly the quick to-and-from runs I do from the house front door to my truck, truck to studio door, and studio door back to truck trips do not qualify me carrying my cute gym bag and wasting my time changing. Honestly – I am on vacation from work right now and would much rather shower in the comforts of my own home than at the yoga studio, regardless of how clean and spa-like it is.
The next, however small, problem I run into is the amount of people that we had in class today. Being New Year’s Eve they were closing up early and I made it to one of their last three classes of the day. I thought I would be early! Maybe even have some space between the other yogi’s and myself, but we were all perfectly placed into our slots like sardines in mustard sauce. Trust me – by the time class was over, that’s what it smelled like. The amount of toxins that hot yoga allows your body to release is powerful but add a few extra people to class and everyone else’s toxins somehow seem to spill over into your space. Pardon me for asking for just a few more inches of space between my classmates and mine’s mats but it would be a little more comfortable and a few tad less drips of anxious energy circling everyone because standing separate leg stretching pose just isn’t the way people should get to know each other. My instructor had us do a meet and greet before class with our mat neighbors because he knew the inevitable would eventually happen.
So after mad-dashing it through the cold, meeting and greeting my mat neighbors, I came to my mat. I physically came to this space, the one and only space I was in, the space I was currently taking up. My space was no longer concerned with thoughts of the earlier morning nor the later afternoon, what happened yesterday or what I’ll get into at work when I return next week. We are taught this in Yoga, to be present and unconcerned with other unimportant things that constantly have your mind jogging in place. I set my intention on my mat and generally they are along the lines of calmness, strength, peace, kindness, gratitude and so forth but this is something I remind myself of throughout class; it could be anything you wish. These intentions help me to set the pace and intensity of my practice, it also helps focus my energy and remind me that what I do today is the best that I can do – and that is really altogether okay, regardless of how much my mind is constantly begging for deepening and telling me to judge myself in the floor-to-ceiling-wall-length mirror. My body lets me know just how far to go each particular day I decide to step onto my mat which is quite an exhilarating feeling to be able to separate your mind’s desires from your physical body’s needs and edge for that day. “This day is just today, it is not tomorrow, and it is not yesterday. Today, this is enough my dear” I tell myself.
After changing gradually and mindfully through roughly 26 postures, each coming back to mountain pose in-between, I realize I’ve allowed my instructor to help me open my heart to an internal light. I can feel it burning today and every day I come out of my hot yoga classes. Today, while we unpacked our 105 degree sardine in mustard sauce room, I was greeted with empathetic smiles, gratitude, and a sense of belonging – like we’re all in this together even though we’ve felt we’ve put shame to the age-old way dogs say hello.
I make my next to last mad-dash through the cold from the studio doors to my truck, now colder than it felt earlier due to the sweat droplets still seeping from my forearms and my drenched yoga clothes. It is now that I wish I would have made a wiser decision to take my cute gym bag and wash the sweat off and change but the satisfaction of what I did for myself today warms my heart and that’s all I need to get home and get on with my day.
pictures courtesy of http://www.bikramyoga.com/BikramYoga/TwentySixPostures.php