It begins on Sunday night, when I begin thinking about whether I will go to yoga class on Wednesday morning. I commit to myself, “Yes. I will go. I will take care of myself, I will do this thing that makes me feel better than anything else on earth. Self-care for the win!” I may even pump my fist. Simultaneously, another voice says, “I will not go. I know it. I will think about going, but then at the last minute, I won’t…and hey, that’s ok, I can go another time. I’m busy.” A third, quieter, more sinister voice says, “I’m not ready to be as powerful as I am after yoga. I don’t know what to do with all that power.”
Monday, these voices vaguely battle it out in the back of my head, in my heart, in my gut. “Shhh,” I tell them. “Can’t you see I have a lot to do???”
Tuesday, they’re getting louder. The week’s getting busier. I talk to a friend about how I am trying to shift my mindset to focus on all that I have instead of on the additional money I want to make, instead of how lost I feel.
Tuesday night, lying in bed, mind racing.
Wednesday morning, the dog pacing around the bedroom, awake, mind racing. I try a little meditation in the can, not wanting to disturb my sleeping husband or child. I can’t focus. I go downstairs and make oatmeal.
Husband asks me, “Wanna walk with me to take her to school?” I agree, yes, and as our vigorous uphill 1.5 mile walk progresses I begin bargaining with myself, “This is so much exercise, you can’t possibly do this AND yoga, and really, you have so much work to do, and you should be working on your book, you should write you should write you should write.”
On the walk home, I say, casually, “I might not go to yoga.” My husband says, “You are going to yoga, if I have to walk you to the front door myself.” “Fine,” I sulk, but am also secretly glad for the push, but also resentful of it. Both. All.
I get to the studio at 9. Class isn’t until 9:30 and the studio won’t open until 9:15. It is raining and cold and I think, “I have every excuse to just go home.” But I sit in front of the studio, and I wait.
“I’ll check in on email,” I think.
My phone dies.
I find a scrunched up piece of paper at the bottom of my purse, a print-out of the agenda of a training I’m leading for work next week, and on the back and in the margins I write and write and write. I spill my guts. How lost I feel.
I’m done. Is it 9:30 yet? I ask a guy across the street for the time. “9:17,” he says.
The voices make one last gasp: “Maybe class is cancelled, maybe they aren’t coming, maybe you get to go home. You fulfilled your commitment to yourself just by getting yourself here, just be being here. That’s the hard part and you did it.” At the same time, “No. Stay. You can do this.” And then a quieter voice… “Please.”
And then someone shows up and unlocks the door.
Class starts. The teacher says, “Today’s kriya is about withstanding the pressure of time.” I pay attention. “About when everything just feels too overwhelming. And also, about how brief our time here is. Our mortality.”
I am all in.
“It’s physically vigorous,” she continues.
“Oh god,” I think.
“…because of course, physical activity is essential to a long life.”
But then we start. We chant. We breathe. We shimmy and shake and I am ALIVE. I feel ENERGY. Goddammit, I love this. I start to feel myself.
It’s been a while.