July 27, 2012 by Chelisa
Today I went back to Bikram Yoga. Well, it wasn’t exactly Bikram Yoga, it was technically “hot yoga,” but the studio owner/instructor is Bikram-trained, and really all she did was add some more “party times” to the routine and didn’t call the third pose a “Japanese Ham Sandwich.” Which, frankly, kind of disappointed me. But it was my ONLY disappointment; as she also didn’t have carpet in the studio AND she opened the doors and kicked on a fan for our final savasana. Which was amazing.
For those of your unfamiliar with this style of yoga, people volunteer to spend an hour and a half in a room heated to 105 degrees, where they practice 26 yoga poses twice while an instructor directs said people’s bodies to bend “beyond your flexibility” and “bones to skin.” My personal favorite (beyond the “Japanese Ham Sandwich”) is “Reach back, far back, way back,” but, that’s probably at least in part because it’s what the instructor says during the last five seconds of any given pose.
I started playing with this form of exercise right after my son was born. Literally. I looked into a work study at a studio in Austin in December literally the day before I got a positive pregnancy test then heard back about the work study when Jack was merely two weeks old. I know that it was too soon to exercise, but in the midst of the heavy postpartum depression that ruled my brain, I just wanted some control over something in my life. At least I could go to a studio and sweat and lactate (sorry if that image was a lot, but it was accurate) all over my towel and mat for an hour and a half ALL BY MYSELF. I’d shared my body with another person for nine months, and, although he had since physically vacated me, was still an appendage (and I don’t mean the negative connotations associated with that word) quite often.
Almost two years later, I’m in a very different place. I was bending and sweating (but not lactating this time. Thank God. Because that would be weird) and coming to terms with a very different Chelsea in the mirror than I’d ever seen before. I saw her body, which was different than I remembered, and it hit me that I’d never taken a good, objective look at the body that gave the world Jackson. For the past two years, I’d ignored my temple in favor of chocolate cake and whining about everything. I let it go. I was present in the studio.
(I don’t know to whom to give photo credit. Google images “Camel pose” and it’s the first image. Sorry everyone.)
I’ve always been pretty flexible, but this pose has given me the most trouble. I’ve never been able to figure out why. When I got home, I googled the pose and found this:
“Poses that tap into tension in the hips, chest, and back seem to prompt emotional releases most often during yoga sessions. Frustration and anger could manifest in spinal tension, heartbreak and depression could linger in the chest, and emotional pain from the past could lie dormant in the hip flexors. These moves can help you confront such unresolved issues.”
Immediately, I started working on a chapter for work, trying really hard not to confront any “issues” that were manifesting themselves in my body. Right now, I’m working with David Cohen, a rocking guy who happens to be the VP of RTC, and also happens to have a LOT of really cool stories that need to be shared with the world. I have the honor of helping him work out his book, and it was suddenly a responsibility I took very seriously. During our last phone call, Dave mentioned that he was concerned we hadn’t dug deep enough into some of his life for his book to be as affective as it could be. I started thinking about how vulnerable he’d made himself to me. How much he’d bared his soul for the purpose of getting his story out, but also for the purpose of getting me to a place where I could work with clients for RTC in a more permanent way. I thought of the ways that his stories had stuck with me through the week between phone calls. How I was able to think of things in my own life more objectively because he’d drawn a conclusion about his own experiences for me. I was overcome with gratitude. If I couldn’t yet face my own truths, I could at least let Dave know that I appreciated him facing, and then sharing his. And I did. And I was free to do some really good work. And then I even blogged about it 🙂
Lately, everything has been pointing me in a direction that leads to truth and freedom and love and all the wonderful, bohemian ideals to which I’ve always aspired to lead my life. I just want to get there. Fast.