"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, September 18, 2009

Three Degrees

The session was brutal. By the end of the standing poses I was so dizzy I had to sit out the last two. I haven't sat out any poses since the second class, and I'm at the end of my third week now. If I could have pushed through, I would have, but my body made it clear in no uncertain terms if I didn't sit down, I would be going down one way or the other.

My usual relief at the arrival of the floor poses was replaced by a continued struggle to keep the dizziness at bay and to pull enough air in through my nose to fuel what was being required of me. More than once I found myself on the verge of gasping through my mouth - an act I've been told will trigger my body's flight mechanism. Running panicked from the room is not considered good yoga form.

I made it through, but stayed in the last savasana longer than usual, trying to bring my breathing back from Darth Vader gasps to something more human. As I finally gathered myself to leave the studio, my eyes found the digital thermometer in the corner. One hundred eight.

Only three degrees beyond optimum for Bikram yoga. But it might as well have been thirty or three hundred for the extra difficulty I had because of the difference.

Three. Such a small number. Yet such a huge impact.

I have a tendency to discount the little things. Five pounds too many. A couple of hours of sleep too few. One angry response unmended.

I've expected my heart and my body to absorb those little things without complaint - ignored the warnings and complaints when they came.

"It's no big deal."

"I can handle this."

"I just need to try harder."

It turns out three degrees is a big deal. I couldn't just handle it. Trying harder was not the solution to surviving it.

When I was writing God Has No Daughters I became aware that there has always been a quiet, small voice in my life, offering me loving guidance and joyful possibilities. The large angry shame voice delivered through my mom, which I believed then to be the voice of God, drowned out the still one time and time again.

When I'm in that hot room, asking my body to do things it might prefer not to, there are only little things. Breathing. Stretching as far as I can, then a tiny bit more. Concentrating on one spot in the mirror. Listening to my body. And thanking her. Resting to absorb each new demand.

Three degrees. This one day - a sunny mild gift. Breathe in, breathe out. The look on my husband's face when he sees me. Words of understanding from a friend. Laughter at the antics of an eighty pound puppy. Little things, but added together they are the life that small gentle voice intended for me to have all along.

photo from Flickr


Janna Qualman said...

I don't know what words to offer, but they would be full of praise.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

LOVELY! And BTW, you are NOT making me want to start yoga, especially HOT yoga!

Pam said...

I think what I like about yoga (and tai chi) is that you can push personal physical boundaries within a quiet context, rather than the huff and puff (and loud music sometimes) of other options.People think these are gentle forms of exercise, when actually, as you say in relation to yoga, they are demanding and challenging.From my perspective the Taoist form of Tai Chi,particularly so.I'm finding your journey very interesting Deb. Thanks for your recent visit and lovely comment.

kario said...

I have a feeling that this journey is going to prove to be a very fertile one for you. I love that you are opening these doors to consciousness.


Tabitha Bird said...

Ooh, I could read about your yoga classes all day. Maybe there should be a book called, 'all I need to know about life I learnt in Yoga,' I'd buy it :)

Beautiful post.
I love yoga all the more :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

I guess in the case of meditation and yoga...it's good...to sweat the small things. hehe

The Unbreakable Child said...

Ya, you. Go, go go!!!

And beautiful post!

Jerri said...

This is beautiful and I love the yoga posts. The thing I love most is that you know the still voice lives in the look on Walt's face when he sees you.

That's such a gift to and for both of you.