I’m happy to report that hot yoga went very well last night. I was so pleased when I seemed to slip back into the old routine of the hot yoga classes. They are different, at least at the studio I go to, compared to the warm classes. The warm classes are definitely for beginners and as a result, the poses are not as challenging.
When I was waiting for class to start (because I have to get everywhere 20 minutes ahead of time or I panic), a young woman came in to sign up for an introductory week of classes. I overheard her explaining to the receptionist that she has bad joints, can’t run, doctors don’t know why she kept hurting herself, etc. Believe me, it took everything in me not to run up to her and say, yes, yes, you can do this. Just try it, I promise.
She came and sat on the bench next to me and looked absolutely terrified. The receptionist had told her that she should try a warm class first but she had made up her mind and was coming to the hot class. I smiled at her and asked if it was her first class and she nodded. I asked if she wanted some first-timer advice and she was grateful for the input. I proceeded to give her the rundown of the room, what would happen before and after class, how she should have something to hold her wispy hair back, etc. Then, I admitted that I had overheard her speaking about her physical challenges and offered up my own story. She seemed to be relieved by this and asked if she could set up her mat next to me in class.
When we got into the room, she set up and started to whisper that she was nervous and scared that she would hurt herself. I reassured her that she would be guided safely into poses and that she just needed to do what she was comfortable with to the best of her ability.
Class started and I had to admit, I was a little scared myself. Was I making a mistake by jumping back into hot yoga so soon? Was I just hopeful that three years off would not make any difference?
As the class progressed, I concentrated on my poses and cleared my mind of the list of things to do at home. That’s part of why I like hot yoga in particular. With regular yoga, I can’t ever clear my mind. But with hot yoga, all I can think about is how hot it is, so it’s very distracting for me. It’s the best 60-90 minutes of therapy I’ve found for shutting my brain down.
Anyway, class started to get intense with the poses about halfway through. I noticed my balance was off, and indeed, I had most certainly regressed with my strength since three years ago. We started to do poses where one leg supports the body and I really got sketched out. The girl next to me was struggling, but then she would get the pose, smile at me, and then whisper that she couldn’t believe that she was actually doing it. She mouthed, all I can do is try.
I was falling over, resetting, falling over, and getting back to center on some challenging poses. The instructor was saying, stop thinking about it, just do it. I was trying to figure out in my head why I couldn’t do these poses that I remembered doing before.
And that’s when it happened. The epiphany. I realized that I didn’t trust my body.
On the mat, I sat in child’s pose, crying because I realized that I didn’t trust my own body. And at that moment, I realized that because I didn’t trust my body, my body doesn’t trust me either. I felt terrible, like I was violating myself because I couldn’t trust my own body to function in a way that was perfectly reasonable. Our bodies are amazing things- they function without us asking them to, taking in breath, pumping blood, moving us from place to place, and adapt without our realization. Our bodies are smarter than computers in many ways, but I am living in this state of uncertainty by not trusting mine.
And by doing this, I had the great realization that I was sending a message out that my body couldn’t trust me.
I know this sounds very hippy-ish, but this realization was so powerful. I reset myself again on my mat, tears running down my face, and silently started a dialog with myself as I went into the next pose.
Body, I trust you. I’m sorry I have blamed you for the past two years of my misery. I know you can do this, you just don’t remember how. I will protect you and be kind with you. Trust me to treat you well and know you can be safe.
I was so focused at this point, I was repeating this over and over again. I’m sorry, know you are safe. I’m sorry, know you are safe. I trust you. Trust me.
All of a sudden, something clicked. I started going into poses with more ease, didn’t fall apart when they became challenging, and felt an overwhelming sense of empowerment from within me.
At the beginning of each practice, yoga practitioners are encouraged to dedicate their time on the mat to a thought, action, or person. My devotions are usually centered around calming myself or being strong. I think now, my devotions will be to evoke a sense of trust between myself and my body.
This is the full epiphany I had during class: At some point, you have to trust your body. You have to trust that it can support you and take care of you. It’s more powerful than you think it is. Then, you need to let your body know that it can trust you so that it can relax. You gain trust through action. It’s a process that I know I need to start with my body and move towards a point where there is no question on either end that full trust exists and my body can be strong and peaceful.
I have decided to go back to hot yoga again tomorrow, only this time when I unroll my mat, it will be with the intention of trust.