Manna from Heaven

One week ago today marks the first day of this school year that everything went smooooooooooth.

Yes, the year did start 2 months ago. It takes a bit for this train to start rolling smoothly on the track. From the time that I opened my eyes that morning, till drop off, everything fell into place perfectly.

Karsten was up on time. I gave him a bath in record time. His older brother, Kaedan, actually brushed his teeth and got it done. His usual routine is to paint toothpaste onto the toothbrush with his finger, and then rinse said finger under trickling water in a 10 minute prep to brushing his teeth. While at the same time I repeat

                    Kaedan brush your teeth

                                                                       Kaedan brush your teeth

Kaedan brush your teeth

Kaedan brush your teeth. Each time I happen to pass, back and forth, as I finish my morning routine. After which, I usually catch Krystana, my oldest, putting her hair into a ponytail without brushing it out first.

Another pause to help with her hair, because at that point if she does her hair again correctly, by herself, she’ll be late.

But not that Monday!!! Kaedan brushed his teeth. Krystana was standing in the entryway, early, looking like she stepped off of the set of a Teen Nick show. And, Karsten and his (what seems like) twelve bags and pieces of equipment for school were in the car and delivered on time.

Walking back to my car, after I dropped Karsten the littlest bear off at school, I had that uneasy feeling of a mother that spends all of her time with her children. The one where it feels like something is missing and you don’t know what to do with yourself because they’re gone, and you’re ALONE.

Warily excited by the limitless possibilites of potential time by myself, I decided to take the long way home, just because. It’s the little things. and that Monday that little thing was being able to drive aimlessly, leisurely, indefinitely… indefinitely until 2:30 p.m. but still…

Slight freedom!

As I drove, listening to Adele and Lauryn Hill instead of The Lorax or Yo Gabba Gabba, I took it all in. Feeling, and listening to, every second of every breath. I was present and enjoying every millisecond of this little reprieve.

And then I had the wildest thought… I’d been meaning to go check out the Bikram yoga studio near me. For about  a week now I thought about it, googled it, pulled out my old exercise gear, and got a new yoga mat.

When I have something in my mind it kind of becomes a crazy flurry of research and planning obsession until I experience it. Especially insane, in this instance, because I had never experienced the inside of a Bikram studio.

The next thing I knew I  was pulling over and mapquesting Bikram Yoga. And, then I was on my way.

Now, it was a cloudy day. and I’m sure I was a tad disoriented from the foreign experience of being able to do whatever I wanted. I could feel the neurotransmitters declaring Code Red inside of my brain from the liberty…

But I could swear, that as I drove up to this little industrial building, I could see the hands of God disappearing behind a break in the clouds and bright beams of light gleaming from the walls.

Something inside of me was telling me that this was the solution to all of the aches & pains that had me wondering if my body was falling apart.

I pray endlessly for my body to hold up to the assignment that its been given.

The ache that I feel when I put my head back and look up. The numbness and tingling that radiates from the pinched nerve behind my shoulder blade down my arm and fingers. The soreness in my back. The 40 stress pounds that I’ve allowed myself to gain. I had a really good feeling about this exercise that I had never ever experienced before.

I went inside and met this amazing beam of light named Katie. She told me all about it and I signed up to come back to a class that evening to try it out.

When I opened the door to the 6:30 class and met the wall of heat that was waiting for me… I began to second guess the divinity of my  inspiration.

I’m sure you know since it’s become a sensation, it’s 105 degrees in the yoga room and after the class I found out it’s also 40 percent humidity. Which explains why literally the whole class I kept repeating in my head, “This doesn’t feel like 105 degrees”. “Why is it so hot in here”?! Accompanied by thoughts of running out the door and jumping out of the window. Suffocation. and a daydream, in which all of the yogis and yoginis surround my lifeless body as it lay crumpled on the floor still stuck in half tortoise. and a glance around the room to guess who would be the one to run out of this heat and call 911.

There was an upside to the whole experience. After I learned to breathe only through my nose, the key to the heart pounding panic that I felt initially… as I did each asana, I felt my entire checklist of aches and pains during that class in a way that hurt SO good! I went so far into rabbit I only stopped out of fear that I would snap my neck. It felt sooooo good. Like the bruise that you can’t stop touching.

The torture eventually ended and we left the room. and oh my goodness! The bliss you feel when the rush of cold air hits you after stretching out all of your aches and pains. They should seriously invest in a harp player to sit there in the lobby and strum as people exit the room. It was that good!

I was hooked! Inside of the room, during the panic of trying something so foreign and not knowing exactly what I was doing I had already told myself that this was torture and this was not for me. “This is crazy! How do these people do this? Why would they keep coming back here and actually walk into this room? I am never doing this again” were pretty accurately my thoughts before I learned how to breathe, relaxed, paced myself, allowed the stretch, and left the torture chamber.

But afterward. Oh my goodness! I. was. hooked!

This was it all along. Another reminder to dwell more in trust than doubt. It was the answer to everything I was asking for and more. The “and more” I knew that I was yearning for, but I never expected it to come in the form of hot yoga. The “and more” that I found is a moment, for a moment it gives me a sense, illusive, but still a sense… of certainty. You must follow the rules. The rules are concrete. Certain. You know what to do. You know when to drink. The way you should breathe to relax. Your body is molded by the work that you do but guided by someone outside of yourself. Your job is to listen to them, follow the directions when you hear them, and only when you hear them.

For 90 minutes I am not at the helm of my ship steering in calm water that at any moment can turn into the perfect storm. I am clay laying and waiting to respond to the call of the one there to shape me. In fact, my practice is better when I wait for their instruction and follow it. As I watch myself in the mirror, it looks effortless.

Strangely, it is very structured but it makes me feel so free. easy. relaxed.

I’ve finally found something that can combat the unavoidable stress that is a part of my life. In the most absurd place. hot yoga. The image of me torturing my stress away makes me smile. But in the philosophy of Bikram, which makes so much sense, “if you want to make a knife what do you do to the steel”?

In my everyday life I have to be a razor sharp sword. This amazing place molds, stretches, releases, focuses, makes me endure, strengthens. So that when I leave I am sharpened and ready to fight the battles ahead.