Grief and Sweat...
1.15.2014 (read time aprox 1 min 30 secs)
I’m gearing up to take a yoga class, the first one since I arrived home in Boston a week ago, 10 days since my last class. For a yoga teacher, that’s pretty long time. I’ve been processing loss, and it’s been taking a toll on my appetite and sleep, which makes it difficult to walk into a 110 degree room and exert bucket-loads of sweat and energy. I finally feel rested, fed, and hydrated enough to go, and suddenly realize I may have been avoiding it for subconscious reasons.
This past fall, while I was home, my friend wanted to come with me to hot yoga. I was worried, because she had been through radical breast surgery prior, and, though she was not undergoing treatment any longer, I was concerned that it might be too intense for her. And it was. I’d set her up in what I knew to be the coolest spot in a very hot room, and kept an eye on her in the mirror. Eventually, I saw her getting overwhelmed by the heat and (very irritated that the teacher did not do this), signaled her to sit down and take a rest. At the water break, she wanted to step outside of the room for air, and the teacher prevented her from leaving the room, telling her to just take a seat by the door and jump back in when she feels better (while there is a certain amount of safety concern for a teacher, with a student going from hot to cold air where the teacher can’t keep an eye on them, this need to control is one of the unfortunate parts of certain yoga training, from my western perspective). At the transition from standing to floor, I scooped up my mat and hers, gave the teacher a look that unequivocally told him not to argue, and took my friend in the hall.
We set up our mats on the cool linoleum and had savasana (resting on the back) in the lobby. I then took her through the remainder of class, in time with the teacher, outside of the hot room. I gave the dialogue, and she did all of the postures, now undaunted without the heat. After class, several women asked if she was okay, and said they wanted to join us in the hall. The teacher was clearly bothered after class, and I could not have cared less. It is and will probably always be my favorite teaching experience.
Grief is a force of nature. It's universal. Every sentient being feels it, and I would venture to guess that it is only our limited scope of human understanding that leads us to think that everything alive on earth does not know this feeling in some way. Though universal, because grief is experience based, so the process is unique, as well. The memories and feeling associated with them are going to be our own. Since there’s no escaping it, I can’t think of a better way to work through it right now—in a 110 degree room, exerting bucket-loads of sweat and energy, with my memories of my friend.