Sunday, February 3, 2008

Trigger Happy Yoga

Late Saturday night I posted excitedly about attending a Richard Freeman class with Yoga John. Unfortunately, we misread the schedule and there was a sub for Richard's class. John and I decided not to go, and I deleted the post. That's basically all you missed, loweball. lots of yoga john! richard freeman!

A few nights ago I went to a hot yoga class with my friend Kate. There is nothing unusual about this; we go together often, and I've been feeling confident and strong in my yoga practice. But before I get into that, can I just say how difficult it is to write about yoga? It is difficult to write about yoga. And Z-Muffin and I are still testing the waters here, trying to find our groove. How 'journal' is this yoga journal going to be? Should we list our practice, pose by pose? Where is the balance between the sincerity of yoga practice and the slightly narcisstic desires we both have to dissect those practices? Can we talk about our boyfriends here? Bear all this in mind, or don't. Suit yourselves.

The class was horrible. Within the first ten minutes I was sweating through my bra, exhausted and dizzy. By the time we got to the second set of Eagle pose, I'd already put my forehead to the floor once. Something interesting happened during half moon/ardha chandrasana: I got the pose. That is, I got deeper and stronger on both sides than ever; I felt my body, myself, moving in two directions. It was there that my troubles began.

Everything hurt. And the weaker I felt physically, the weaker I felt emotionally. What is wrong with me? kept running through my head, except it was more like this: What the fucking shit balls is wrong with me?! I was mad. Practicing yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees when you're mad is not a good idea. But I had no expectation of feeling angry, and worst of all was how profoundly the anger directed itself at me. I felt utterly helpless, trapped inside my little hotbox of anger and fusteration.

so then I asked myself, why am I here? and unexpectedly, another question arose in my head: what am I afraid of? At this point, I was in supta-vajrasana/fixed firm pose. This pose is really easy for me to get all the way into, but lately I've been noticing I don't feel a whole lot while in it--it's almost relaxing. There are certain poses in Bikram/hot yoga that are like that; I rely too often on my freakish flexibility to get me in them, and skip the actual work, eliminate the process. Being mindful of this, I asked Heidi, the teacher, for help. I said loudly, I don't feel anything.

She essentially did a downward facing dog on top of me, while quietly saying things like "sometimes we get so deep into our practices we don't feel anything, and have to do more work" and "it is totally okay to cry", which was probably just for me. And I did cry, later. But first, with Heidi's weight on top of me, I felt myself again go in two directions. My lower back and stomach experienced the most beautiful stretch, and my thighs and hips seemed to unlock themselves and go forward, out, beyond. And it hurt. A lot.

I managed to sludge through it and dropped Kate off at home. When I got home, I walked upstairs, pulled a photograph off the mirror and cut someone out of it. Weird? Maybe. I thought of the picture when I was in half-tortoise pose, face on the ground, crumpled like paper, snot pouring out my nose. Crying. Or trying to cry. It occurred to me I hadn't really cried since Austin died. I thought of this picture, tucked inside a corner at the bottom of my mirror. I thought of myself, sitting there sweating, in all this pain and frusteration, thinking of him. I thought of why I'm afraid of camel pose. The drop, the letting go. It hurts. I looked last night in some old notebooks for something written a few months back, wishing I could return to the days right after he died, when I cried every day. Wanting to back to the magnitude of pain. And yet I reject it at every turn. What am I doing here? Looking for the real. What am I afraid of? Finding the real.

Everyone always says your body is different every day. And it's true. Fucking wacky, but true. Tomorrow I'll go back to hot yoga, and most likely won't have a meltdown. How portent our muscles are. Here's something else I found:
the pure air of saints is achieved by abandonment: Jesus in the garden alone, cold moon disappearing, Buddha at the morning star, mind emptied of its snarl of ignorance. Neither to harden against loss, nor to welcome it. To let it be who you are.

1 comment:

Zen Muffin said...

sublime, loweball, positively sublime. "what am i doing here? looking for the real. what am i afraid of? finding the real." maybe that should be the new tagline for the yogery. and in between those two feelings, the desire for the real and the fear of it, is where we feel our pain. as far as finding our groove, maybe it would help if we began each entry with "Dear Diary."