What I Enjoy

I had a dream about yoga the other night.

I pulled up to my studio. The owner was working the counter and I breezed past her. I entered the hot room with it’s delicious 105 degrees, and then I remembered. I couldn’t be there. I was pregnant.

I tried to make a quick exit, but the owner saw me. “Are you leaving?” She asked, surprised. “Yes,” I replied. “Well, I’m pregnant so I can’t do hot yoga.” She was on the brink of congratulating me when I added “You know I lost two babies. I have two, and I lost two. So this one… we’ll see.” I had only briefly mentioned my losses to her, shortly after I started yoga. She had praised my dedication in those early days, coming to the studio three or four days a week. I tearfully told her that I’d recently had two pregnancy losses and had a lot of self-loathing toward my body and was trying to punish myself. She awkwardly did not know how to respond.

She asked me when I was due and I replied “August 15th. So I should probably be back in October. If I’m back sooner than that, you’ll know it did not end well.” I got into my car and pulled away quickly.

Then I woke up.

I miss hot yoga, so much. I miss the intensity and the focus that the class required. I miss the 90 minutes of self-awareness and escape.

It’s 2:30 am and I am wide awake. The muscles in my legs are aching and cramping and my body feels tight. Anxious today, I paced around my living room. A walk would have been better, but the weather did not cooperate and it was raining. If only I could do my hot yoga. If only, if only.

Conversation with a Stranger

I went to yoga yesterday.  After the emotions of the weekend, I was not sure that I was ready to go back and put that much energy into 90 minutes, but I forced myself to go.  The instructor was one of the more interactive: she constantly offers encouragement and corrections during the dialogue.  During Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose (Dandytamana – Bibhaktaeada – Paschimottanasana), she came over to me and kept saying “lock your knees, lock your knees, there you go – you got it!”  The exertion caused a cramp in my leg, so I had to sit out the next posture, but then I picked myself up and kept going. Continue reading

Extreme Heat

Yoga has been a source of solace.

If I do not go every 2-3 days I can feel the tightness, in my limbs, in my jaw, in my balance.  I need that sweat release of 105 degrees for 90 minutes.  I am now so familiar with the sequence of 26 postures that I can sometimes let my mind wander.  What do I need to process?  What do I need to consider?  The instructors would likely click their tongues and tell me to “bring myself back into the room” but it is a place to gather my thoughts while stretching my body.

And yet, for all of the accomplishments, there are the days that do not go well in the hot room.

Like the day that I noticed a woman practicing a completely modified sequence.  Bikram yoga is fairly stringent on completing the postures as directed, so I wondered what she was up to.  Then realized that she was pregnant: she was avoiding any pressure on her abdomen.  I had to force myself to look away.  I was resentful of her comfort with the risks of doing such a strenuous activity while in her first trimester.  I could likely never bring myself to that level of ease again.  Then she stopped coming.  Likely the practice was too challenging as her baby grew.

Like the day that at the end of class, the instructor said “Let’s give a big congrats to so-and-so, here for her first class, just eight weeks postpartum!”  No.  I could not clap.  I started crying instead.  Sweat mixed with tears and thankfully the heat of the room hid the redness of my eyes.

Like today.  Should have been an ordinary day.  Instead, I was not hydrated enough, dizzy and nauseous, and frustrated with myself.  As I took a break, lying in savasana, the instructor said that she’d had a bad day in the hot room recently, and cried throughout the practice, and that’s ok.  That did it for me.  I began to cry into the floor of the room.  I wanted nothing more than to leave and to go home and crawl into a bawl.  But I stayed.  The practice was hard and I took a lot of breaks, but I stayed.

Late this afternoon, Ger and I took a walk.  My yoga studio is challenging its members to take photos of poses around the western suburbs and post the photos to social media.  So while out for a walk, in 90 degrees, I stopped for a pose.  It was difficult.  The ground was uneven, and I was wearing shoes instead of barefoot.  But I managed to pull myself into eagle pose and hold steady for a few minutes.

 

I Am Not Sorry

I am not sorry that I went to yoga today.  Or yesterday. Or the day before. 4:00 p.m.  8:00 a.m.  6:00 a.m.

I am not sorry that I chose to position myself in the coveted front row, after only six weeks of hot yoga practice. I focused on my postures, making adjustments, corrections, improvements.  Sheer determination drives me forward.  Imperfect body of stretch marks and loose skin cling, grasping to my frame.

I am not sorry for my in-room habits. I bring two towels, while everyone else brings one. Toward the end, at fixed firm pose, I cover my drenched towel with a dry one.  The fresh feeling helps me finish out the class strong.  I bring two water bottles.  I now have specific points in which I drink the water: “party time” (the coordinate water break after the first three poses), before triangle pose, at the first savasana, before fixed firm pose, before head to knee pose.  I hate half locust, often skip it, choosing to stay in savasana, even though I don’t mind full locust. I hate camel pose and if I’m having a bad day, I skip it too.  Some poses come easily for me; I look forward to the stretch.

I am not sorry about making the various facets of my life revolve around my yoga practice, at least not right now.  I need that time to myself. I need the release and break to keep my mind and body healthy and am unapologetic for it. The rest of the world can wait 90 minutes while I sweat out my emotions in the hot room.