I walked into the lobby of the Cloud 9 Divine Hot Yoga studio and began peeling off layers like an onion. Gloves, jacket, long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt, sneakers, socks, windpants. Nothing like hot yoga in the wintertime!
As soon as I walked into the “hot room,” though, I forgot all about the cold weather outside. The warmth that I hadn’t felt in way too long enveloped me like a cocoon. I realized how much I’d missed it. I missed my favorite spot in the back row. And I’d missed rolling my mat out with a happy little anticipation very similar to what I feel when I’m lacing up my running shoes.
I had gotten to class early. I laid on my mat and dozed, er, centered my thoughts, thinking how nice it was to just be still. No stressful work environment, no constantly updating my mental list of things to do before Christmas. Just stillness.
The instructor, Jason, strolled in, and class began. I’ve been in one or two of his classes before, and I’ve decided that I am perfectly okay with his sometimes-hard-to-understand accent, because a) the accent is actually quite entertaining (“‘A-gaze’? What the heck is an ‘a-gaze’? Oh, EYE-gaze!”) and b) Jason is blessedly merciful when it comes to the downward dog position. As in, doesn’t make the class hold it for what feels like five hours.
We stretched, reached and balanced our way through the positions. Per my habit in hot yoga, I concentrated primarily on breathing. I’m finding that just breathing gets you through quite a lot in life. Car sliding on ice? Just breathe. Watching your boyfriend clean animals after a hunt for the first time? Just breathe. Grappling with a challenging yoga pose? Just breathe. Just breathe and everything will be perfectly….
Okay, sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it gets too hard, breathing isn’t enough, and you have to STOP MOVING and just take a moment. You have to take the proverbial (or literal) knee. One of the great things about yoga, though, is that it teaches us that this is okay. It is okay to pause. When we pause, we reconnect. With our sweat-dampened mats, with our breathing, and with ourselves.
Towards the end of class, Jason delivered some nuggets of wisdom. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist goes like this: “Everything you want, everything you need, all love, is already within you. Sometimes we get distracted by our senses — our eyes, nose, and ears may make us think we want or need something, but everything we need is already inside us.”
I like that. All we need is love, and it’s already inside us. It’s ours for the discovering, the nurturing, and above all, the sharing.
After class, I layered clothes back on. I braced myself for the chilly re-entry (re-exit?), and part of that bracing was promising myself that I would carry Jason’s counsel through the holiday season. If my flights get delayed, it will be okay. If I don’t get exactly what I want for Christmas, it will be okay. If my running consistency slips a little during vacation, it will be okay.
I already have everything I need.
I wish everyone a peaceful week, safe travels, and plenty of time to pause.