*(with homage to U2’s song title “A Sort of Homecoming” as the inspiration for the title of this entry…)
As a part of my ongoing quest to drive myself outside of my comfort zone and prove to myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for, I decided to follow all the cool kids I know and go to hot yoga at Moksha Yoga this past Friday night. Friday nights, they offer a Karma session at 7:30 pm, where a $5 suggested donation will allow you to take part in a hot yoga session.
I first heard of Moksha Yoga when I was doing duathlon training. Moksha kindly offered all of the duathletes-in-training free hot yoga sessions after our group training events, but I never went. I was intimidated, and usually had something going on that I had to go home and get ready to do. So I didn’t go.
But lately, most of my group of healthy and fit blogger friends here in the Cities have been raving about hot yoga. So I caved. Like a lemming jumping off of the cliff, I decided I’d better go and see what the fuss was all about.
I’m so glad I did.
I got to Moksha Yoga early. I’d heard the class filled up, and heeded the advice to get there early. I met up with some of my friends, and then it was time to go and get settled in the room. Remember how I said it was hot yoga? H O T. 105F. And this salamander girl LOVED it. (Sean and I have a joke about how he’s a polar bear… he’s a big guy and regulates his body temperature well and he can run around all winter long and be perfectly happy. I am a salamander – I need warm temps, a flat rock, and some sun, and I’ll curl up and veritably purr.)
I set up my yoga mat and water bottle and towels (Bring 2! One for putting on your mat, and one for your use during the session. Yes, you sacrifice some of the grippy texture of your mat, but once there’s a ton of sweat on it, you won’t have any resistance. The towel on top of the mat at least provides some.) I grabbed a block to use; although I never ended up using it, I was glad I had it nearby.
I spent some time quietly resting, absorbing all of the heat in the room. It felt glorious, especially on a cold Minnesota night. The room started to fill up, and kept filling up. Finally, Phil came into the room and got us started. Phil was fantastic. He’s funny, and makes you want to work harder. He’s Canadian, which I figured out when he said the word “process” as “pro-cess,” not “prah-cess” but he later mentioned being French-Canadian, and he played a lot of great Francophone music during the session.
The energy in the room was fantastic. Great music and a laidback atmosphere. But I worked. Oh, how my body worked. I found poses I had never tried before, and managed to get a heck of a workout. The sweat poured off of me, and it was such a powerful feeling. I’m one of those people who actually kind of likes to sweat during workouts (I have no idea why), so this was just right up my alley.
Finally, it was time to cool the room down a little and cool ourselves down a little. Phil played a song called “Shine” that just resonated so deeply with me. Mixed in with the sweat dripping off of my face, if you’d known to look at my face, you would have seen tears falling from my eyes.
I became overwhelmed (in a good way) by the whole experience. I pushed my body to limits I hadn’t before. I was amazed and humbled that I could even survive an hour of hot yoga, let alone to do with strength and a smile on my face.
To understand why I was so overcome with emotion, consider this. I was born 3 months early. I weighed 1 lb 13 ounces when I was born. I spent the first 3 months of my life in the NICU, and my parents weren’t sure I was going to make it. I was one of the fortunate preemies in 1974 – I was female (higher survival rate), and managed to have very few ill health effects from being a preemie. I had a compromised immune system until I was 8 (caught every cold/flu that came down the pike and missed a lot of school through 2nd grade), but that sorted itself out. I have some hearing loss in my left ear and a crooked spine and a lazy eye, and that’s about it for lasting visible effects. I am lucky, and have always felt it acutely.
However, I think I have always battled fibromyalgia. I remember my mother putting ice-filled washcloths and towels on my legs and arms as a small child. I would be screaming and crying about how much the “growing pains” in my legs and arms hurt. We didn’t know what else to call it at the time, but it’s the same pain I get now when the fibro is flaring up. I have always felt severely fatigued. I attributed it to my schedule in high school and college, but I was always more exhausted than the people my age keeping the same schedule.
Past all of that, I endured enough emotional abuse as a young adult to make me question my worth and doubt my strength, except that I somehow persevered and survived all of it, which is a testament to my strength, even though I couldn’t realize it at the time.
And then I thought about this past 2 years… setting a training schedule and religiously sticking to it; running my first 5k, 10k, half-marathon, doing a duathlon. All things I never would have thought I could do. But I did! I set a goal, worked toward it, and achieved it!
All of this overwhelmed me, as I laid there, feeling my breathing go in, and out, and in, and out. I marveled at even just that simple thing, breathing, after all I’ve been through and all I’ve achieved. I let the tears fall, like the sweat still streaming off of me, reminding myself never to forget that place of humble strength, and to draw upon it for the next race or the next task.
This was how I celebrated Thanksgiving with myself. I’m looking forward to actively repeating this process throughout the end of 2011 and into 2012.