This is the time of year when us Bikram yoga practitioners should pat ourselves on the back. Or, if that's too self-congratulatory, at least we should take it easy on ourselves when it's hotter than hell in the hot room, and when we know there's no reprieve from that heat when we walk out the doors.
That said, well, I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. I haven't blogged in a while--it's my longest gap since I started Eat the Yolk. Part of that gap is due to a week spent traveling back east.* I had a blast in New York and Boston (visited a studio there--great place, although I'm not sure it could be classified as "hot yoga." Warm yoga?). But the main reason for lack of blogging has been a combination of other factors: summer doldrums, change of routine, and less--dare I say it?--less of an insistent need for yoga.
Normally, yoga is my life raft. I reach for it when I'm drowning in a sea of schedules, stress, malaise, sadness, whatever. And then, I am compelled to blog about the insights and changes that stem from those blessed classes. But with the stress-reduced summer and another serious (but good!) life change, that "OMG, must yoga now" feeling hasn't grabbed ahold of me quite as strongly as it did during the school year.
Thankfully, I've managed to maintain a 3x/week practice. I'm actually seeing a lot of progress there. I like going to the 9:00 a.m. classes--I'm calm and steady, and knowing that I have the rest of the day ahead of me is just lovely.
So maybe it's all just been a little.... too good! Until this week, that is.
Things have been heating up weather-wise in SoCal, and my personal life is getting a bit busier, too. As a result, yoga has afforded me some moments for intense growth. As other bloggers have noted, it has that ability to peel back the layers to really expose what's going on in your mind and heart--whether you like what you see or not.
Something was bugging me before yoga this morning, and warm weather drove a crowd to "get 'er done" and attend the typically sparse 9:00 a.m. weekday class. The room was immediately a pressure-cooker, and a high-maintainance newbie slowed the standing series down considerably. By the time we got to the floor, I was gone. An old anxiety had resurfaced. I was feeling trapped, claustrophobic, and overheated. The meditation techniques I'd been working with to keep me calm in situations like this immediately went out the window.
I was panicky and wanted to leave, so I let myself rifle through the thought stream in my head in the hopes that I'd find myself something to calm me down. As I lay on my stomach in spine-strengthening series, the stream of thoughts went something like this:
"You're in the ocean! It's cold! What's in the ocean? Fish, octopus, crustaceans, fish, bubbles, bubbles, shrimp. Oh, shrimp! They make a good burrito. I like shrimp burritos. I am a shrimp burrito! Just be a shrimp burrito."
Silly as it sounds, that thought actually calmed me down. A shrimp burrito is just a shrimp burrito. It doesn't get stressed by its environment. It just exists as a little amalgamation of tortilla, salsa fresca, frijoles, whatever. It doesn't cast judgments on its environment.
OK, I realize the shrimp are dead by the time they get into the burrito. They don't cast judgments 'cause they can't cast judgments. But still, the thought kinda sorta makes sense? We're in yoga! We don't need to think so much. After the burrito thing, I was able to simply notice what was happening. There was less judgment, and ultimately less panic. When I thought of the heat, I also thought of how incredibly efficient my body was at cooling itself down. What a remarkable little system we have inside ourselves! We can stay in a room of over 110 degrees, do strenuous poses and get our heart rate up, and get to the point where we feel comfortable. Isn't that incredible?
Just be the burrito!
Shrimp Burrito Man
**Must acknowledge other amazing bloggers for already commenting on this summer blogging phenomenon!