Yoga cradled me tonight. I had been away for too long, my body ached and my spirit felt dull night after night without explanation. I was sleeping enough, eating right, and drinking so much water I spent half of my afternoons in the bathroom. Yet I still arrived at the end of each day exhausted, awoke each morning tired and sluggish, my legs protesting in spite even after a full night’s sleep. My body needed to move, needed life and renewed breath. And so when I finally felt the slightest energy I needed to get to the bikram yoga studio, I raced there. As we began, breathing deeply, it was hard to focus – more than ever before, my mind was drifting, wandering in a way that told me I was unusually distracted. My balance was terrible. And so the practice was a challenge.
Over and over I tried to get myself to let go of all the thoughts, release my tense shoulders, focus on my body and the feeling of my movement rather than the image in the mirror and whether or not I liked what I saw… rather than letting myself be distracted by the edge of my new mat that kept rolling up like an old school sled, the rolls bumping awkwardly against my feet… rather than doing each pose to please the instructor while neglecting to please myself. I tried to let go of my sense of reality, enter the sweat dripping down my stomach, disperse my thoughts into the humid, pungent air and my energies into the silence, thick with focused minds and interrupted occasionally with grunts of bodies stretched to new limits.
And at a point, I found myself lying in a fetal position as we changed from one pose to another and something about that position or that moment overwhelmed me. Emotions pummeled down. I didn’t know why I was crying in my yoga studio, didn’t know if the tears were from the frustration or release, and I was thankful they mixed with sweat on my cheeks for a perfect, subtle disguise. But at the end of the practice, I just laid in the dark room and cried. Cried for all the stress I’ve held, cried for the moments of tension and anger and confusion, cried for my body that wore this burden without even knowing its weight. Yoga cradled me, and I felt reborn in the unlikely space of a dark, hot room.