Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So, I've Been Doing Yoga...

Rachel here.

So, for a few months now I've been doing something. I haven't been talking about it, not wanting to jinx myself or proclaim commitment before it actually takes root. But, after surviving my first Bikram yoga class last night, I am here to announce that I have become an exerciser.

If you don't know me, you're probably unimpressed. If you do know me, though, then you know that I'll take an elevator up one story. I like sweat, but only the kind that comes from lying in the sun for hours and definitely not the kind that comes with a pounding pulse and heavy breath. Or so was the case for my entire life before this summer.

I'm not sure what happened exactly. Maybe it was the structureless-ness of not being in school and not having a steady job. Maybe it was having a toddler and realizing how intensely frustrating that can be and how that frustration can just build and build and build inside until I want to explode. Or maybe it was an existential desire to reclaim my body after pregnancy and the first year of motherhood, a nearly two year period that is both deeply grounded in the physical and also deeply grounded in the body of a different being. Whatever it is, something happened and, after myriad invitations from my friends Thea and Cheyenne to join them at yoga class, I went.

And I've kept going. I thought I would need markers to keep myself plugging along, but after I met my first goal/reward (go for a month and then you can buy your own mat and stop renting one from the studio and then daydreaming about what sweaty beast was facedown on it before you), something clicked. Yoga started to become something I genuinely looked forward to. I started to crave that feeling of having inventoried my body, of having felt it and been deeply connected to it. And then, a few weeks ago, as I lay on my mat in the darkness of the closing Savasana, my body ringing gently along with the singing bowl, I felt myself do something I had never done before.

I thanked my body.

I thanked it for the years it carried me despite my best efforts to deter it. I thanked it for carrying Maxine and birthing her, for healing while summoning the strength to sustain her life. I thanked it for marking pleasure and pain, for scarring, for slowing me down and pushing me along. I thanked it for bringing me to class that night.

And I meant it, in that deep, deep way where gratitude spreads out in an unending expanse, settling into every molecule, gently touching the component parts while simultaneously recognizing a glorious whole.

That was my first transformative moment with yoga. The second happened last night after my first Bikram session.

Bikram is brutal. In 110 degree heat, for 90 minutes, my body and I went someplace I would have said we would never, ever go and CERTAINLY never go voluntarily. But there I was--there WE were--body and mind completely committed, working together, vibrating in the heat. I have never sweated so much in my entire life. NEVER.

When I got home from class, I was still soaked through. My hair and clothes were completely drenched and I couldn't stop smiling. The breakthrough isn't the workout, though. The breakthrough came after I showered.

John very sweetly made dinner so it would be ready when I got home. When we sat down to eat and he put a heaping bowl of pasta in front of me, for the first time in my entire non-kid life, I didn't relate to it from a place of guilt. No, I dogged it.

Pasta has been one of the last hold-out foods for me from my years of struggling with eating. I have, for whatever reason, not been able to undo the equation that pasta=bad. I see it and cringe. I avoid it whenever possible. Pasta has been the stuff of straight-up nightmares for me for well over a decade.

So, as I sat there and inhaled the steaming bowl of pasta last night, the thanks that I started on the mat during Savasana a few weeks ago, was made complete. I happily offered my body fuel, a thanks for what it had just done with me and a launching of our next round of activity.


  1. Ph my gosh I'm tearing up. So heartfelt and inspiring. Must. Share.

  2. Rachel, this is a great and amazing accomplishment. I took Bikram yoga for about 18 months when Sage was just 1 and a half--I just loved it. I would love to go back, but alas, no time right now with teaching. Anyway, I am so happy you enjoyed it and you devoured your pasta--I do know what you mean. More power to you my dearest. Love you,

  3. brian and kaja-

    thank you very, very much for your kind words. it feels good to be go public with this new incarnation of my self; it feels good to be witnessed. thank you for coming here and seeing me.


  4. I came by way of Rebecca's curating—and I love the mother-daughter energy and the yoga spirit. While I've yet to sweat it out at Bikram, I've certainly, albeit only on occasion, found the sublime in a bowl of pasta (the rest of the time it makes me merely plump and very very sleepy).


  5. thank you for coming by way of rebecca (her blog is so great, right? for those who don't know about rebecca mullen's thoughtful and beautiful musings, go visit her RIGHTNOW at'll be glad you did).

    pasta often makes me sleepy, too. fortunately, bikram makes me EXHAUSTED so the pasta just gets me that much closer to blissful sleep, a rarity with a toddler toddling about.



  6. Hooray for letting yourself be good to yourself! This piece puts our trip to Ireland in a new light -- those potatoes must have been hard for you to face at almost every meal!