I almost didn’t go to yoga tonight. My mind, though desperate for a release, was also anxious and didn’t appreciate the idea of stretching in a hot room full of strangers, and my body felt a little tired. But something told me to go. So I did.
As we began our practice, I immediately sensed that something was just the slightest bit different. After almost two weeks of resuming a more regular yoga practice (3-5 times a week rather than 3-5 times a month), I felt…well, less tortured.
I must preface this: my first few hot yoga classes were very much akin to this guy’s experience (a hilarious read, by the way): my body shook, sweat dripped into my eyes, I felt like I was inside of the sun, I was angry at myself for forcing myself to endure this agony and angry at everyone else for…being there. My thoughts wandered away from my breath, away from body alignment, away from the practice. Of course, as the class began to wind down and I wailed “Thank you godddddd” inside my head, the effects began to manifest, and by the time we were released from the Devil’s Chamber, I glided through the cool air contentedly, the light breeze outside like an angel’s breath. Suddenly, sweet release. But the journey to that place was a little less than meditative.
But during tonight’s practice, although I still experienced the shaking, the sweating, the stifling heat–I felt less angry. I felt more in the moment. I focused on my breath. And I told myself to just let go.
At the beginning of every class, the teacher tells you to “set your intention.” This can seem kind of vague, and I didn’t know what the hell it meant for a long time. But basically, you give yourself a reason for practicing that day. It could be to heal your heart, or to send love to a relative or friend, or to instill hope in those who are suffering. It can be anything you want it to be, really. Often, I’m not sure what I’d like my intention to be, but tonight, it was clear: my intention was to help myself let go–let go of the stress from school and from life, let go of my anger and resentment and bitterness, let go of my sadness and heartache, let go of my expectations, let go of perfectionism, just. let. go.
And I don’t know if it was that, or the teacher’s light-hearted humor (a quality I always really appreciate in a yoga instructor), the awesome music she played, that the more consistent practice is beginning to take effect, or a combination, but I actually did let go.
Near the end of the class, the teacher instructed us to get into pigeon pose. I noticed my hips felt tighter than usual–unsurprising given the intense emotions I had been holding onto. I closed my eyes and sent my breath to my hips. I told them to let go. I felt a little bit of a release, sinking further down. I did the same thing on my left side–let go. It’s ok to just let go.
And then–I did. I let go. I felt a complete release. I slid my arms in front of me and sank all the way down to the floor, my hips suddenly open.
I was one of those moments that reawakens my belief in the miraculous power of yoga.
I cried during savasana. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it was the best release I could have hoped for. It’s not as though I can suddenly fix everything–my heart is still broken, my apartment is still a mess, I still have piles of projects looming in the near future–but at least right now, I feel like it’s all ok. And even just a few hours of feeling this way, without the weight of the world and the stars and the moon on me, is worth an hour of torture in the Devil’s Chamber. 🙂