Find Your Stillness
I was brave today, Internet. Well ... At least I like to think so. As you may or may not know, depending on if we're Facebook friends, Dev - my amazing and ridiculously handsome partner whom I happen to be missing a lot - has gone for 3 weeks up North, a few hours past Fort McMurray to a camp for work. And while this is good for him, it isn't so good for me.
It's my second week end here in Red Deer, getting to know this city and her people - almost all of which have been very friendly and talkative and just very nice in general - but I haven't "made friends" yet with anyone. So while Dev has been gone, I've been spending most of my time being cozy in our apartment, rereading favourite novels and watching way too much Food Network.
I swear, if watching the Food Network could make you a chef, I'd have a Michelene Star by now.
But, sometimes I really do surprise myself. As I was utterly and totally unprepared for our move to Timmins, I made sure to do some homework when the time came to move to Red Deer. So, I read - okay, skimmed- the Wiki page about here. I found where the Chapters and Statbucks were, I looked to see if I could find GoodLife. My search for GoodLife turned up empty but I wasn't totally concerned because I had been attempting to work out in my own at home with a Jillian Michaels program - something to which I must admit I was really terrible at following. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the workouts (when I got around to doing them) and her Yoga Meltdown video was probably one of my favourite things. It was hard and uncomfortable and I loved it.
So I thought that I would look for a yoga studio. I had heard of hot yoga, or Hatha yoga as it is otherwise known, and thought that this practice might be good for me. So I looked around some more and found Bikram Yoga Red Deer - thank you, GoogleMaps!
I checked out the website and read everything. Twice. I read every teacher bio, I looked up the founder of the practice on Wikipedia and read it. I looked up every single pose and it's corresponding picture - there's 26 poses - and read the potential health benefits. Today, I found the studio on Twitter and followed them - they were super nice, answering my questions and when I went in one of the girls there was like "Are you the one we've been having Twitter conversations with all day?"
"Yeah, that was me!" I replied, with more pep than I felt.
"I thought unrecognized the name! I've been waiting for a 'Lanna to show up all day!"
When I first walked in to the studio, after enduring butterflies dancing in my stomach the whole time I drove to the studio, I couldn't help but feel a little out of place, nervous, scared and even a little shy - which, to anyone who knows me, isn't my natural element. But these ladies ( there are guys too, I just haven't seen them yet) were so warm, and so welcoming I began to feel as if I had made the right choice. And, if it turned out not to be right for me at least I was out of the house and not sitting home and stuffing a bag of chips in my face so already it was a small victory.
I signed myself up for a month, on the spot and got my towel and my yoga mat all together and got ready for class after a brief tour of the studio from a really wonderful woman named Trista, who also led us all through our practice.
The room was dark and warm and everyone was laid down on their mat. It felt a little like getting ready for nap time in primary school. I found a spot for myself, after whispering to the woman next to me "Is this the back or the front?"
"Back." Came the soft, whispered reply and I laid out my mat and towel and laid down like everybody else. My spot was perfect for me - right next to the door, just in case my body decided to revolt and flee. Thankfully, it did not, but it also didn't so me any favours at first. I lay there in the hot darkness, listening to the bodies around me breathing and finding their own sense of peace, while here I was lying on my mat between this beautiful, petit woman on my left who has an amazing tattoo on her right shoulder blade, and an East Indian Family all lined off on my right.
"What are you doing here?!" I asked myself, nervously running my fingers over the edge of the towel. "You don't belong here at all. Look around you. These people know what they're doing, and your just going to screw it up and look like an idiot."
Still, Trista had told me earlier not to try and take it too seriously. And since it was my first class, my goal was to just stay in the room. If I couldn't do the poses, then just lie on my back and stay on the room. Again, my spot was right next to the door.
But, class started and I managed most of the poses. As soon as class began, I felt sweat pop out all over on my skin. And it was vile. Normally, sweat tastes a little salty, but not tonight. I don't even have the words to describe how awful my own sweat tasted. Hot yoga is designed to pull and eliminate toxins from your body, and lemme tell ya ...this girl is Toxic, if my sweat is any indication.
The class went on for 90 minutes. I can barely manage a 30 minute Jillian Michaels yoga workout, but I finished a full class. There was only one part that I found really really rough, and got a little lightheaded and dizzy, so I lay down on my mat and looked at the ceiling and listened to myself breath.
The last 15 minutes of the class were pure bliss. A challenging breathing exercise followed by "finding your stillness" which is essentially just lying on your mat and staring upward. Trista turned the fans on and I swear she wove some kind of magic in that room as she walked us through every single part of our bodies relaxing.
That was when I felt the first couple of tears slide down my face. I blinked hard, several times and focused on the ceiling. Trista walked out with a quiet "Namaste" and as we returned the benediction, I felt my voice waver. Slowly, in the darkness people began to leave in ones and twos while I, lying on my mat eyes focused on the ceiling, felt a few more tears roll down my face and tried my best not to let anyone else see. Once I trusted myself enough to not break out weeping, I slowly got up, took a long drink of water and towelled off before leaving the sheltered darkness of that room.
If you are ever looking for a safe space, find this room.
I walked out in a bit of a daze, feeling cold air rush all over my skin and it felt like I was vibrating from the inside out. I couldn't help but wonder if this is how Elizabeth Gilbert felt when she was in India ...
I walked towards Trista, towel held around me, yoga mat held a little numbly on my hands. When she was finished talking to someone else, she looked at me and said "How was it?"
"I think I cried." I said, a little awkwardly, towel held a little over my mouth, hiding my slightly embarrassed smile. I felt like I was cracking again, and tried to brush it off. "I don't even know why." I choked out, tears now running down my face. (Even now, writing this, I have to blink past the blur of tears)
"Oh, it's okay," she said, reaching out to rub my arm. "It happens. It's natural. Sometimes we hold emotions in our body and sometime after a session you just feel like having a big ole cry and not knowing what it's all about." I listened as she spoke, wiping tears and sweat off my face, and feeling a little less like a crazy person which she assured me I wasn't.
"You should see us in there sometimes." Said one of the other girls. It made me feel better, and I smiled at them both and walked to the change room, towel still held protectively around me like a childs security blanket. I put my water bottle with my bag, turned and headed for one of the bathroom stalls and wept silently into the towel for a few minutes before emerging and gathering my things for a much needed shower.
Balance restored, and with coconut water in hand, I came back home with a promise to come return.