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My work week ended on a not-so-good note this past Friday, and I knew that if I drove straight home from the office I’d end up eating my feelings and drinking too much beer. In fact, on my way home, Bryan texted me to ask what I wanted for dinner.
“Stromboliiiii!” I wrote back, because that is what I crave when I am overwhelmed. I mean, stromboli is the perfect food representation of feeling out of control. You’re just a shell stuffed to the brim with crap, ready to expel your guts the moment someone pokes you the wrong way.
Fortunately, instead of listening to the little stromboli devil sitting on my one shoulder, I gave attention to the angel of yoga sitting on the other. She whispered in my ear over and over again on my drive home that I needed to drive to the local yoga studio, change into the spandex pants sitting in my car, and do some yoga.
I was a bit hesitant because I have not taken a studio class in a very long time. I am very self-conscious about my hip situation and generally prefer to move about my own way in the privacy of my home, where I can jostle my leg and pop my sacrum without feeling like I’m disobeying the teacher. But I knew that I needed guidance that night, so I paid the $15 drop-in fee to try a new class and new teacher. Before class, I gave her the whole spiel about my hip and the poses I have to modify and how I sometimes have to stomp like a zebra between postures to get my leg feeling normal again.
As I sat there on my mat during the opening mantra, I realized that I was actually nervous. It has been so long since practicing yoga in public, and I was just deathly afraid that I’d get caught in a sequence of hip-centric postures that I would struggle with. It was such a different perspective than my old days of yoga, when I’d plop down on my mat without the need for a block or strap and just do pose after pose ever-so-effortlessly. But now I felt like a total newbie, not sure what was going to lie ahead and whether I’d be able to do it.
However, once we began our ujjayi breathing, warming up the spine, and eventually rising into easy Warrior sequences, I was in The Zone. I had had work on the brain since 8 a.m., and for once, I was blessed with 75 minutes of just me and my movement. We plastered ourselves against the wall for a supported half-moon pose, and instead of poo-pooing the notion of using the wall for a balancing pose, I allowed my back and head to nestle against the surface like it was a luxurious mattress. How great it felt to be upheld without struggle.
The class felt like it zipped by, and before I knew it I was wrapped in a blanket, doing nadi shodhana before settling down into savasana. The instructor came around and dabbed essential oil on my temples, gently rocking my head side to side before letting to relax in the center. (<—–THIS is why going to a physical class is SO MUCH BETTER than practicing at home. Ahhh, those soothing savasana touches.)
The class was everything I could have asked for—meditation, asana, pranayama, and a few chaturangas but not so many that my scapula ached—but unfortunately the studio was a little cooler than I would have liked for a class titled “Inner Fire.” Studio temperature is often a deal breaker for me, because, seriously, I should not have visible goosebumps on my arms while covered in a blanket during savasana. I may give the class another chance, but this is the same place I broke up with during the summer because they ran the air conditioner whenever the temperature rose above 80. And then this is why I began practicing at home, in my upstairs yoga room, where it gets deliciously hot and humid.
But for someone in need of a quick fix, soaking in 75 minutes of yoga was so much more satisfying than throwing back a shot. In fact, by the time I got back to my car, I wasn’t craving stromboli anymore and instead ended the evening with a delicious mushroom/pea masala from our favorite Indian place and a glass of red wine.
When was the last time you ignored the “stromboli devil” and said yes to yoga instead?
Five years ago on this day, I have fallen into the Kripalu emotion-suck, and as a result of doing nothing but contemplation and self-inquiry for the past two weeks, I am in the throes of an identity crisis.
When will my energy return? When will I surrender? Do I need to work on [the niyama] isvara pranidhana? I’m tired of struggling and fighting myself. Do I need to surrender to myself, my devotion? Surrender to my inner guru? I’m so tired of clinging. So tired. It’s exhausting me, wearing me out. My fingers, my heart, my head–I’m tired of clinging, grasping. Please just let me let go. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.
During meditation, we’re told to envision ourselves floating in a bubble on a body of water. I see myself on the Yangtze in the middle of the Three Gorges. What the hell does that mean? I’m a small, tiny bobbing bubble in the middle of two huge canyons, surrounded by looming intimidation. So small. That’s what I chose. Crap. My heart literally hurts. My jaw. My solar plexus.
This day. Has been. Crap. I have been so miserable, so glum, so pathetic. Emotional eating. I cried during my lunch walk. I called [my old workplace], got [former boss] instead of the voicemail and was suddenly sucked back into Real World crapola. That call made me sick.
Posture clinic all afternoon–so bloated, so TIRED. Megha and Rudy lead a sun salutation sadhana, and that was tough. Megha leads savasana, her theatrical voice repeating “annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha…” like it’s a lullaby. I break down during savasana, lots of tears, lots of snot. I can’t even roll out of my fetal position for pranayama. Everyone Oms without me, but it is beautiful. I take it in and sink deeper into gratitude and melancholy. I stay in Shadowbrook, lightly sobbing, until 6:20. I have somehow reverted back to 14-year-old Jennifer.
Five years ago on this day, the first week of my Kripalu YTT ended. Week 2 begins.
I am tired today. Emotionally, mentally not with it. My head feels stuffed with clouds and cotton balls. Slightly irritable. Morning sadhana with Kimberly. I do Warrior III for the first time in weeks and feel kind of heavy.
I eat a lot at lunch, trying to fill myself with food, since I’m not full otherwise. Baked squash. Salad. Mac and cheese. Soup, bread, rice cake and jam, coffee. Still hungry.
Our nametags are used constantly. One day I came into the cafeteria and I hear, “Here you go, Jennifer.” One of the volunteers hands me a tray. I walk to the front desk and the woman says, “How can I help you, Jennifer?” I feel known. Special. Acknowledged. It’s kooky but nice. Like the Seinfeld episode.
The effects of yoga mudra in a forward bend are intense after coming back up. My arms feel as though they have a life of their own; they want to swirl, dance, undulate, sway. There is a magic propulsion under and around them. The effects of belly-down postures are, um, titillating. Yoga practice has definitely ignited my fire, and pressing my pelvis in the floor causes quite an energy. My Locusts and Boats are getting much higher, due to that mula bandha fire.
I came into the afternoon session very, very sluggish. So tired. Confused. Spacey. When they tell us we’d be doing pranayama for the afternoon, I cringed. Blah. But after 90 minutes of dirgha, ujayii, kapalabhati, and nadi shodhana breathing…wow. Instant revitalization. I resisted and silently protested pranayama so much, but I left that room floating on air. My bowels even moved a little. I started Jurian’s sadhana on an ecstatic note. I entered Stage 3 several times, floating back into Warrior I, twisting into Triangle, dancing into Half Moon, sinking into janu sirsanana and coming up from Plough without even thinking. During savasana, I see the cafeteria buffet–lasagna. Me scooping up lasagna. Near the end of savasana, I see all of my classmates and teaches get sucked into my heart center, like a reverse parting of the Red Sea. So many faces and personalities getting sucked into my core. All this wonderful energy.