I arrived a half hour early, paid at the front desk, and snuck into the large yoga studio, air heavy with sweat, determination, frustration, and relief. I was nervous. This was my first bikram class in close to four months and I wasn’t entirely sure how I would handle it. I had given myself a pep talk at work and on my way up the steep stairs, convinced that if I didn’t get back on this horse now, I may come up with a laundry list of excuses for the rest of my life.
I’m tired. I’m not mentally prepared. What if my body can’t handle this any longer?
But those things weren’t really holding me back, I thought as I unfolded and stepped onto my mat. I had allowed my own fear to get in the way of my happiness and I was determined to see my way through it. I sat in anticipation and removed my tank top, revealing muscles that had stayed with me all these months later, and I remembered that yoga (and bikram in particular) is metaphoric for so many things in my life. It’s an intensely personal practice and one that reminds me of the fragility of life and the impermanence of it all. What I have lost in these past few months–including my papi, my dog, and sense of self–I have regained in the form of new opportunities, an appreciation for the term “bittersweet,” and an increased awareness of my place in this world.
Once the door shut, I focused on my breath and pushed my body in ways it hadn’t moved in quite sometime. I gave all I could, allowing the beads of sweat to gather in my browline. My muscles softened and stretched and I gave an inch more that I thought I could during standing tree pose.
Every now and then, my mind became distracted with thoughts about dinner, friends, Bryan, work, blogging, the meaning of life. But kindly this time, I escorted it back to the mat, to that place I had called home for so long. I was grateful and in the moment. I realized that months of mindful meditation practices had finally paid off.
I needed this. The pain, the sweat, the discomfort.
Because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.