Back to the Mat

This was originally written in January 2016, but never published. It’s still pretty relevant, so… here it is.

– – – – – –

Empty studio, first one there. One window lets in natural light, but it’s winter in Portland, so it’s cloudy light.

Wood floors, light music. Heat.

This is the noon hot class, after all. 100-something degrees. Not Bikram, but still very sweaty. I prefer this kind. I like leaving drenched in sweat, wiping salt water and feelings from the surface of my skin.

Unroll the mat. Unroll the Yogitoes. Put the water bottle down. Grab a block. Grab a foam roller. Lay on my mat, old and familiar. Think about how much I hope my back pops at least in one or two places in the next hour or so.

Run the foam roller from neck to calves, decide I want to stretch instead.

Stretch. Supine twist. No pops, just pulls.

Other side. Switch again. Think about meditating. Search for mantras I used to know, but can’t remember.

Remember that I always associated a campfire with one particular mantra, because it meant something along the lines of “I release,” or “I offer it up.” Google it later and realize the word I was looking for was svaha. Or Amen.

Find more memories.

Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu.

Om namah shivaya.

Talk myself out of holding any expectations for this class. It’s been over a year since I’ve been on this mat, in this corner, in this studio, in this space. And yet, it was yesterday.

Let go of what feelings I might have, what postures might be difficult, what struggles I may face.

Let go of the sounds and presence of other people entering the room. Welcome people into the space near me (rather than hoping they give me space, give me distance, don’t pop my yoga bubble). Let go of who or what I expect the teacher to be, how I expect her to guide.

Let go, basically of everything but my breath and my commitment to follow instructions.

Lights dim. Music changes. Teacher greets.

And we begin.

– – – –

Somewhere in all of that, and in the hour that followed, I felt like I snapped out of something. Or, maybe I snapped back into something.

Yeah, like something clicked into place.

Something that had been misplaced or buried for awhile.

I remembered what it felt like to lay, twist, sit, stand, reach, stretch, open, and curl in these classes. I remember what postures evoked feelings, and I remembered where I was at various points in my life in different postures.

The last time I’d done yoga, I was working through a lot of things that involved my relationships to other people.

Healing. Accepting. Repair. Relation.

Today, any introspection I was doing, any yoga nuggets of wisdom I was absorbing were towards myself. Progress? Maybe. Different? Absolutely.

Today, something clicked back into place. It felt like I came home, like I stepped back into myself again. The next hour was, for all intents and purposes, exactly what I expected, for having zero expectations.

Some parts felt amazing, open, long, lean, stretched. Some parts were uncomfortable. I do not have the balance I once had (oh, the yoga:life metaphors!). My hamstrings are tight as fuck. Because of that, I skipped entire vinyasas in favor of hanging out in down dog a little longer.

I checked the clock a couple of times, once at the half hour mark, another with 20 minutes to go. I wasn’t in a hurry to be done, but my brain needed some idea of how much further my body had to go. I didn’t get my ass kicked, but it wasn’t easy. I liked existing in that happy medium place, and within the first few minutes of class (and for its entire duration), I was already eager to get back to the next one.

I’d been missing that whole feeling of belonging where you are, lately. A decade ago, I fucked up a financial situation through a series of lazy and ignorant decisions. I’ve been paying for it in the years since (of course), despite living mostly consequence-free for exactly the number of years needed to grow comfortable in that. In the past few years, I have made a very conscious effort to dig myself out of this debt hole, and in doing so, I’m bringing all of those old decisions (or, as has often been the case, lack of decisions), to the surface, and it is painful. There are many. The process is humbling, overwhelming, embarrassing, and scary.

I had an interesting dream a couple of nights ago. In this dream, there appeared two signs of good fortune:

First, I won $1,441 via lottery ticket.

Second, I found a bag of receipts (handwritten!) from the office supply business my grandfather owned and ran for years.

I woke up thinking I had to go to the bank to deposit that cash (in $20 bills). I made plans around that cash for a solid half hour before I realized it was a dream. I’ve been holding onto that feeling — that I had an unexpected large-ish sum of money that I needed to bank — along with the one of prosperity and success (from finding the receipts of my grandfather’s business). Wealth, unexpected income, success, prosperity, financial security. My dream was full of these images and feelings. Not worry or anxiety over past mistakes, present concern, and future planning.

Ease, peace, wealth. Very different than the feelings I’ve been confronting in my waking hours.

Finding my way back to my yoga mat opened up channels inside of me that have long been lazy or dormant, and I am not taking that relationship between those energy channels and my subconscious’s good fortune lightly. I’m just not.

– – –

Empty house. Glass of wine. Music. Couch.

Open laptop, open Pages. Write, for the sake of writing, because you missed it. Journal. Use names, don’t protect the innocent or the guilty. Say what you mean. Say what you feel.

Realize you just wrote something you could share. It could be edited, for clarity or something, but it’ll work. Sign into blog. Add post. Copy, paste, edit.

Don’t bother proofreading, really. This isn’t journalism, it’s your heart. Let it exist out here as it does in the world.


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