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My Mat, My Self

After a months-long hiatus from hot yoga, I returned to the studio. Or, as some call it, the “Hot Room”: site of muscle-straining, face-reddening, and ego-humbling.

My friend Courtney, who first introduced me to hot yoga, had also taken a little break from it. She found a new place, Cloud 9 Divine, that was closer to both of our homes and a wee bit less expensive than our previous studio. I agreed to her suggestion that we give it a shot, and we set a date.

Part of me was eager. With my marathon training kicking into high gear, I need a good cross-training activity, and yoga is faaaabulous for that. Plus, I got a new yoga mat for Christmas, and as we all know, new toys must be played with. The other part of me, however, was very mindful that I hadn’t donned my yoga pants since, oh, September? I could feel my IT band reflexively assume the position of a turtle in defensive, tight-as-a-drum, ain’t-nobody-pulling-me-out-of-my-shell-for-nothin’ mode. Eeep.

I clearly recalled the blissful parts of yoga. I also clearly recalled some moments I can only describe as god-awful. As Back-to-Yoga Day approached, though, the positive outweighed the negative, and I found myself feeling nothing so much as simple curiosity. How would this go?

I got my answer on Saturday morning. The question changed from “How will this go?” to “How could I have doubted this?”

Not that the class was easy. I can think of lots of words to describe hot yoga, and I don’t think a single one of those will ever be “easy.” But it was…affirming.

Courtney and I arrived sufficiently early to sling our mats in a prime spot: the back edge. And it’s a good thing we did, because that room filled up, and filled up fast. A few people got turned away, which stinks for them, but reassured Courtney and I . Popularity = quality, or something.

The affirmation continued as class started. We knew the poses, or most of them, so that part wasn’t scary. The physical part of yoga, especially hot yoga, is all about the breathing. I repeat [for my own benefit, really]: All. About. The breathing. I tried to make that my focus throughout class. Just remember how to breathe, Shannon. Inhale, expand. Exhale, contract. Repeat. Also, don’t tip over.

Our instructor, Heather, did a commendable job of keeping the class upbeat, telling stories and jokes, playing music, and adeptly weaving in those stellar little yoga lessons along the way: Forgiveness. Moving forward. Leaving the past behind. Breathing.

Just when I started having fantasies about sticking my face directly into my refrigerator at home, it was time for the final pose, shavasana, a.k.a. my favorite pose. As I lay sprawled on my back, just breathing (Inhale, expand. Exhale, contract.) and listening to Heather’s intonements, I felt that old familiar sense of well-being from my sweaty toes to the matted ends of my ponytail.

To make things even better, as Courtney and I walked back out to our cars, a cool, steady drizzle was falling. How often does that happen in Albuquerque??

Muscle-straining, face-reddening, ego-humbling: Yep. But also: body-strengthening, mind-cleansing, and spirit-boosting.

It’s nice to be back.

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6 thoughts on “My Mat, My Self

  1. Just joined a gym yesterday and I’m looking forward to doing yoga. I know there are some poses my hamstring won’t let me do, but I can do most, I think. If not, I’ll just breathe.

  2. Let’s see stretching (that sounds painfully), weird poses (I hope they’ll be able to put back together again) , and HOT temperature..sounds like a BANKS torture chamber session, all it needs is a hill!!

    Actually my daughter Erin loves her classes in Arlington and wants me to attend when we visit this weekend.

    I’ll give you an update on the results!!!

    Great article!!!

    Joe Medeiros

    ________________________________

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