I’m in a room that’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit and my skin is now made of sweat. I ignore it steadfastly, twisting my body as far as it will go into a strange position that has a name I can’t pronounce. And then I hold it. Dripping down onto my mat, with complete focus on the alignment of my body, I hold. Until the only person in the room who’s allowed to speak says “Change”.
My husband and I, thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Laura, have started doing Bikram Yoga. For those of you who don’t know, Bikram Yoga is a hot yoga – performed in a 105 degree classroom – a series of 26 specific poses performed in exactly the same sequence every time.
We’ve only been to two classes so far, but there are some key components of practicing this yoga that I realize apply directly to my writing as well.
Be uncomfortable. Ignore the sweat. Hold it. And breathe.
Did I mention literally dripping with sweat while your clothes are plastered to you, and trying to remember to breathe in and out through your nose, don’t open your mouth and be sure to STAY STILL. In fact there is one position with a name that basically translates to “awkward”. Yeah, that about covers it.
I realized that sometimes I steer away from my writing when it’s not comfortable. Some days it feels like it’s moving through me as much as being created by me. And that’s an awesome feeling. But some days I sit down at the keyboard and nothing comes out. The story’s not going just right and it doesn’t flow like a stream rushing jubilantly down a mountainside. So I get up and walk away, telling myself I’ll come back later, when I’m “feeling it”.
Be okay with it. Avoid comparisons with others. Showing up is the toughest part.
Every class you’re consistently encouraged to simply do your best, go as far as you comfortably can and then stop and hold that position. If other people are ahead of you, it doesn’t matter. If other people are behind you, it doesn’t matter. Just be you, where you are, and know that with time and practice you will gradually get better.
How refreshing, particularly in our I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-right-now culture. To be told over and over that where you are is fine. Where you are is great, just because you showed up and you’re trying.
I rarely allow myself to relax and just be where I am. It’s hard sometimes to trust that if I just show up and do my best every day, I will gradually get better. I want to be able to write something moving and impactful RIGHT NOW, and I don’t give myself credit for just showing up at the keyboard.
These are things that I’m not great at. This is going to require some diligence.
What yoga’s teaching me is to go through those days of challenging writing and be proud of what I’ve done so far, even if it’s not the goal line. It’s okay if it’s awkward – sometimes that’s just the stage you have to go through. And don’t forget, every day you show up and contort yourself through this, you get a little better.
Do you feel okay about being uncomfortable? Have you ever done hot yoga? I’d love to hear from you.