“This can be the most amazing hour of your life.”
I was in a room that was about 95-degrees, and it was only getting hotter. My hamstrings were painfully tight, and sweat was already forming small ribbons down my back. I was in down-dog.
“Or, it can be the worst.”
I knew there was a catch.
Me and a few friends were at Prana Yoga for our new Monday night ritual of hot vinyasa followed by cold smoothies and warm brussel sprouts. It’s a nice tradition; Monday’s are actually one of my favorite days of the week, and I look forward to both capping the day and starting the week in a small room filled with other half-naked yogis drenched in sweat, harshly getting rid of whatever it was about the day through their pores.
“Just give yourself one hour — one simple hour — to do something for yourself. In this small amount of time, everything is only about you.”
The instructor’s words are smart. Moving from down-dog to plank, my breath is controlled, and I tune into my body. For once, other people don’t matter.
Then she added something along the lines of, “Take this time to devote your practice to a teacher from your childhood who made a big impact on your life.”
I was confused. I understood the sentiment behind her actions, yet after channeling my energy into making this the most narcissistic hour of my life, I couldn’t redirect my thoughts back to another person. So I (like Kelli, which I found out later) simply devoted the practice to myself.
The first thing I tried to do for good ol’ self-devotion was let go. This idea of getting rid of thoughts is something I think about often (maybe that’s my problem?), and fail miserably at even more so. To be fair, the amount of thoughts we have daily is super overwhelming. The roundabout number is up for debate (how would you calculate it, anyway?) but some believe we conjure up to 60,000 thoughts a day. Doing a little math, that’s 2,500 thoughts an hour. So, to just throw out over two thousand thoughts during a yoga session is, well, hard.
Maybe I should have dedicated this to Mrs. Flood.
We’re moving through some flows at a rapid pace, and if it wasn’t for the whole 100-degree hot box thing, I think I would’ve faired a little better. We’re repeatedly moving into chaturanga, jumping up into chair pose and low lunge, and jumping back into the flow again. I’m hurting, I’m shaking. I’m convinced I’m sweating more than any other person in the room. Fuck: I’m thinking.
Yoga is without a doubt the most challenging thing I put my mind through. Stick me in a gym blasting Rihanna and I’ll vinyasa no problem — side plank and low lunge and sit in boat pose till I’m out in some river. But being able to do that in a yoga class doesn’t actually matter at all. What matters, as #namaste as it may sound, is to actually embrace that hour in the class and look inward, to stop fighting the heat and the burning and the tightness, and fall out of poses and climb into child’s pose and just accept it, and yourself, because that’s what you should do and it doesn’t matter and nothing matters, and the practice is wonderfully and selfishly yours…. and only yours.