I have a regular(ish) yoga practice again. I haven't been all that good at maintaining my practice in recent years, and this is something I'd like to change this year. Barre is great for building strength and flexibility and a great butt, but I find that it's yoga that helps quiet my mind and cultivate more mindfulness in my day to day life. I suspect that's not what the practice is for -- not entirely at least -- but for me, a lot of my problems end up being resolved on the mat. In fact, a long time ago I wrote about coming to the realisation that I needed to end the relationship I'd been in for almost eight years while doing yoga.
So yeah, turns out I do some really great thinking on the yoga mat. Not quite to the level of shower thinking (google it) but pretty close.
Here's what I was thinking about during yoga class this morning:
Yoga as prayer --
It occurred to me while I was on the mat this morning that perhaps my affinity for yoga has something to do with the fact that I was raised Muslim and so for much of my childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood, each day was punctuated by prayers. Muslims pray five times a day every day. Muslim prayer is a combination of specific words -- whispered, or thought, one's inner voice uttering the words -- and movements. My late grandfather was explained to me that a benefit of Muslim prayer was its inherent reminder to pause, to step outside the busy-ness of life and re-center oneself, that the movements added a health benefit to our spiritual obligation. Yoga is movement, among other things, and to cultivate a yoga practice is to take the time to come back to ourselves no matter what is happening in the outside world.
I was thinking all this while on the mat this morning, and wondering if I've found it easier to cultivate a yoga practice over all these years because I've been primed, thanks to a Muslim upbringing, to seek out these pauses in my life to try to get in touch with something bigger than myself. These days I'm not sure what that 'something bigger' is, or if it is something that physically exists, or even that there needs to be something. I'm not praying for anything when I'm on the yoga mat. Mostly I find myself thinking about the ways in which life is, at its heart, a story you get to tell about yourself. Like all stories, it has its tropes. I'm reasonably sure that mine is the one where a woman gives up on romantic love, gets her life together to a point where she feels completely and utterly satisfied and needs for nothing, then immediately meets the man who ruins it all (in a good way) and forces her to re-build her life, only this time with him in it.
I'm also reasonably positive that when this happens, I'll then proceed to live the trope of the woman who struggles immensely to understand and internalise that her life now impacts someone else's life -- and she has to learn to share now.
There's this scene in the last season of the Sex and the City series that I love: Miranda and Steve are married, and Miranda has reluctantly agreed to look at a house in Brooklyn, and in response to Steve reminding her that she owes it to him and their son to really give the house a chance, Miranda replies (with some dismay), "Oh my God, I'm married."
That'll be me someday soon. Dismayed that I don't get to be selfish and live my life entirely on my own terms anymore.
Yoga as meditation --
Today, much to my surprise, I found myself flowing through the various poses the instructor was calling out and meditating on sending love, kindness, and the best of wishes to the arsehole who broke my heart and left me feeling used and manipulated last November.
I have no idea where that came from. His arse is staying blocked though.
I also meditated on whether or not to get gelato on the way home from class. It was a hot day, and I was sweating all over my mat at the time!
I really wanted gelato.
The gelato place was on the way home.
I spent the rest of the class thinking about gelato. On the one hand, maybe it's too heavy for such a hot day? I'm older now, dairy sits a little heavier and longer in my belly these days.
On the other: the class was hot and sweaty, and gelato would taste so fucking good after all that exertion.
Yoga as opportunity and distraction --
There was a shirtless hottie doing yoga on the mat behind and to the left of me. Fucker was doing fucking handstands during his vinyasas -- show off -- and it was a sight to behold. So graceful, so lean and muscly, so ... I was really happy to be in downward dog today.
Lord God Almighty, what I wouldn't give to feel the heat and sweat of his body just inches away from mine as he holds himself up on those strong arms, his body barely touching mine, teasing ...
Yeeahhh, I'm a straight, hot-blooded woman after all. Mostly. I definitely was this morning.
I got a watermelon granita from the gelato place on the way home. It hit the spot better than a gelato would have. Probably not better than that hottie would have ... I'll show myself out now.