The first few days, I felt completely exhausted after class and could not understand why Jonathan, my friend, said he felt the yoga energized him. I came home and collapsed into a chair or bed and moved very little afterwards.
After about a week, though, I began to feel a certain lightness and joyousness that started right after the final sivasana and stayed with me during the day. It was as though my very glands were coming alive again as I flushed the toxins from my body. And it seemed that each day I awoke with more energy, power that I plowed back into the practice. I bent to the side and backwards with more effort and enthusiasm. I threw my chest off the floor during locust.
Lately I have felt tired in class. I’m dragging. I had to sit down today. I’ve pulled a hamstring and my leg hurts. In sivasana, I’m hot, hot, hot, hot. I can barely stand how hot it is…I search for the slightest whisper of air. I swallow to bring moisture into my throat. I stare at the ceiling and call out for the old ones to help me endure. My clothes, plastered to my body with warm sweat, feel heavy. I wait for release from my misery. It comes with the next pose, a sit-up, that leads right into the next contortion on the floor.
So I’m just here, in this place, after 15 days in a row of yoga. I’m supposed to feel the benefits by now. Am I? I suppose my concentration has improved and my endurance has grown, along with my humility. Sivasana still hurts my back.
I’m no longer bragging to my friends about this awesome new practice I’ve begun. But I’m still committed, more than ever, I suppose, to seeing it through. I’m going to have good days and bad days. As one of my teachers likes to say, the worst days are the one when you don’t show up. I’m still showing up.
And I’m learning, incrementally, to become more aware of the tension in my throat, my neck, my chest, of the ways that anxiety and fear and worry register themselves in the muscles in my back. I can’t release those muscles until I know what I’m doing with them, and I can’t give up the stress that I’m holding until I release those muscles.
The heat, the discomfort, the heart pounding the blood through my temples and chest I’m learning to experience as temporary sensations that come and go. I am learning to look for a cooler, calmer, steadying aspect of my experience, which is also there, and perhaps always there.