My alarm goes off at 4:15 A.M. Seems like the entire universe is still asleep, but there’s coffee in the pot and class starts soon. Before then I’ve got to pack three kids’ lunches, shower, dress and not die, all while being very quiet so as not to awaken the rest of the household at this ungodly hour. The city streets are calm and quiet as I drive toward the studio. There’s a kinship with the others who make this daily pilgrimage. Not a lot of talking, but a certain understanding that permeates the room as we all begin to move and sweat and breathe together while our families and friends and co-workers sleep.

For nine straight years I did Bikram yoga almost every day before switching in April to hot power vinyasa. I had reached a plateau in my strength and flexibility and I was getting kind of fat doing the same poses over and over again with Bikram, even though the room was 110 degrees and humid AF. Our bodies can get used to anything, I guess. So just in time for the Netflix special, I jumped ship. At Hot Yoga Plus I found a welcoming, tough community of dedicated yogis who could do just about every yoga trick in the book short of levitation. Inspired, I was once again. 

The first few weeks at my new studio broke me down. Used to being one of the best in the room I was humbled by being one of the worst. I woke up sore all over, barely able to get out of bed. But there was something in those classes that kept me coming back for more through the pain and embarrassment of flopping on my face or nearly toppling a row of inverted yogis like a bunch of dominoes. I liked the challenge, but I really liked the progress. Slow but steady, I was getting better.

They say yoga is not about the postures or anything physical. They say yoga is something groovy about the breath blending the body, mind and spirit together. But I don’t know them and I don’t subscribe to their journal. I simply get up every morning and try to find a way to fit some yoga into my day. Because in my experience yoga makes the days a whole lot better. It’s exciting to me when my body does something bendy or strong I never thought I’d be able to do. It feels good to be in a room with 30 other people all listening to the same music and moving together and trying really hard at something.

Now it’s a new year, and my resolution like last year is to do more yoga. I cruised past my goal of 365 classes sometime in November, with a little help from a yoga retreat and 45-minute “Espresso Flow” classes. I recently added back a weekly Bikram class because I love those people too, and there’s nothing in this world like the feeling I get after suffering in tropical jungle heat for 90 minutes. I want to try some other stuff this year too, and maybe figure out some of the other things “they” say about yoga. I’m grateful for my yogi friends, teachers and studios. I can’t imagine what life would be like if they didn’t break me every day.

 

My son Andrew doing full wheel at Martyr Park, Memphis

My son Andrew doing full wheel at Martyr Park, Memphis