Ok, so if there’s one thing that my friends all know about me, it’s that I really don’t like to exercise. I’ve managed for most of my life to avoid it pretty well…ever since I was a teenager in high school trying to get out of gym class, I have developed a real talent for coming up with a thousand different excuses to get me out of it. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I am pretty easily distracted, so it’s usually not too hard for me to distract myself just long enough to miss the aerobics class, or the walk, or whatever it is I have promised myself for the umpteenth time to do.
The thing is that I really hate to sweat, so I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that endorphin rush everyone talks about. And that, according to my husband, is the whole problem in a nutshell. He loves to sweat…in fact, the more he sweats the better he feels. His answer to any problem is a good workout, which I just don’t get at all. I guess opposites really do attract!
Anyway, last year I had a bit of a health scare and I had to make some lifestyle changes as a result. One of those things was to exercise more, and because I wanted to do whatever I could to avoid any more health issues, I pulled up my big girl pants and joined a gym. I actually made it through a whole year working out there (an all-time record for me!) until I discovered yoga. I don’t mean to sound cliche here, but yoga changed me. Honestly, I love it. Not every class, mind you. Some teachers I’ve encountered terrify me into positions I should not be in. But that doesn’t happen too often, and I am usually able to avoid them once I know who they are. There’s something about the different poses, though – the movement into them and the stillness of maintaining them – that strikes a cord in me that no other kind of exercise ever has.
And the fact that I feel like I’m working hard, but not sweating too much, is a definite plus.
So when I was trying to decide what I would do to ‘get my body moving’ this week, I wanted to come up with something that was maybe a little different than my usual routine. Kind of like last week’s assignment, I thought it was important to push myself to get out of my comfort zone so that I would have a better chance of raising my awareness of my personal limits. I had recently seen a sign that a Bikram Hot Yoga studio was going to be opening not far from where I live, and when I found out that its grand opening was the same week that I had to ‘get my body moving,’ it just seemed like a sign that I needed to pay attention to.
Of course, the whole idea of hot yoga was about the worst thing I could ever imagine…they actually refer to the 105 degree room on their website as a “torture chamber” (not kidding!). But it seemed to me that combining something I love (yoga), with something I hate (sweating), was the perfect way to try and raise my consciousness, as long as the whole experience didn’t scar me for life!
I honestly could hardly sleep the night before my first class I was so worried that the heat would be too much for me and I would embarrass myself by fainting, or throwing up, or something equally terrible. And believe me, if it wasn’t for this project, I am pretty sure that I would have been able to come up with some reason to postpone the experience. But I decided to consider it a personal challenge to actually follow through on this, and I’m happy to report that I didn’t let myself down.
Was it as hard as I imagined it would be? Yes. Did I make it through the whole class? Barely. Will I ever go back? Surprisingly, yes, I definitely will. Somehow, even though I have never in my life sweated as much as I did in that class, I have also never felt as good as I did after it was over. I don’t know, but maybe sweating a lot is a good thing for the body!
Albert Einstein once said that “nothing happens until something moves,” which, when I first heard it, seemed so obvious to me that I hardly gave it any thought. But when I tried to relate it to this week’s ‘assignment’ to raise my consciousness, I realized that maybe there was, actually, a little more to it. For instance, if I had not consciously ‘moved’ my thought process away from my usual view of sweating, then my hot yoga experience would probably not have ‘happened’. And when you think about it in a broader sense – from trying something new to changing the world – everything has to start with a first move of some kind.
So whether it’s a conscious shift in mental attitude, a tiny baby step toward an unfulfilled goal, or a giant leap of faith into the unknown, if we want something to happen, some sort of move has to be made. It’s not always easy, and it can be very scary, but if what we want to happen is for the greater good, then we have to trust that whatever move we make will be the right one. We just have to be brave.