July 4, 2013

Death by Power Yoga.


I signed up for one month in a Power Yoga studio. I have a strong personal practice but I was looking to kick it up.

The studio is full of natural light and large mirrors so we get to really watch and scrutinize ourselves.

It’s bright and spacious. Air flows and before class you wouldn’t suspect how hot it gets. It has a magical acoustic that makesom vibrations resonate deeply. Silence blooms innocently.

And then the power part starts. The heat strikes.

The practice is fast from the get go. And it breaks me down almost instantly. Not even 10 minutes in and I find it hard to hold a downward dog. My arms are straining. I’m soaked. Sweat dripping, coming inside my nose. Hitting the mat in fat heavy splats.

When warriors start twisting I get to look around all the tall, beautiful, sexy dressed women who don’t seem to be as wounded by the heat as I am. They are radiant—my face looks purple-red.

Arms begin to tremble as we get to Shakti kick our own butts. The girl next to me has her iPhone set up so that she can chat between kicks. She kicks effortlessly into a beautiful handstand, comes down, smiles at the screen and writes back.

I want to feel superior because I would never do that. I’d like to think I focus on my practice when practicing but obviously I don’t. I’m standing there judging her. That’s horrible. She has obtained mastery over her body and doesn’t let that get in the way of spreading her loving light to those around her via text message. She’s a bodhisattva and I’m a petty judgmental sweaty dying soul. I go back to focusing on kicking my own butt. I deserve it.

I feel broken and humbled. As I lay defeated in savasana (yoga pose), I wonder if I’ll survive.

I hoped this would make me stronger. But how strong do we really need to be? I’m strong enough to accept that this may be too much for me. The practice itself is a mirror that allows me to see that clearly.

But I am not a wimp. I should allow the divine light to shine trough me, and be the best warrior I can possibly be. I don’t care if it sound corny. I’m in survival mode. Gasping for air.

My glutes may be burning, but I try to tune into the silence of my bones. Delving deep into killer alignment. Even when my body is screaming out my weakness I try to find my strength.

The strong physical practice pushes me into mind games. Trying to understand the universe or my highest nature. Whatever. I’m just trying to keep my mind busy.

After week one my lower back starts hurting.

I need my attention to attend to my body. I should be present, not fighting reality. I try to find myself…in the mirror.

I push under my big toe, trying to focus my wandering thoughts and crush them. Things are getting better. Or maybe I’m too beaten up to care. When I have to skip a posture to massage a cramp out of my leg, I shield myself with the gratitude for the small break.

Why do this people need to be so strong? Arm balances and twisted inversions are beautiful but spending 90 minutes of your practice doing kicks and push-ups is awful. Is it worth it?

Isn’t yoga practice supposed to build compassion and higher understanding in order to live fully and die happy?

When we would go into savasana, “corpse pose,”  these strong, beautiful, sweaty corpses would run away—afraid of dying. Strong yet not brave. But here, in this one pose, I have it easy: I just collapse.

Soaking in the happy silence of my bones. Unattached from my worn out body. Pushed and kicked out of my comfort zone. Grateful for having sweated out so many things.

Dead. Humbled. At peace.



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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson/Ed: Brianna Bemel

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