Let the Floor Hold You

Three weeks ago I started the spiritual discipline of Bikram Yoga, aka Hot Yoga.  Bikram Yoga is one of the hardest physical things that I have ever undertaken.  

You enter into this dimly lit hallway that has the feel of being outside on a terrace in the evening.  There is running water and soothing music.  You could stay in this place for ever.  Yet the glass doors to the yoga studio beckon.  When you open the door to the mirrored room, the wave of heat and humidity knocks you in the face.  Picture a room that is heated to 105 degrees with 60% humidity.  You roll out your yoga mat and lay the towel over it.  You sit upon your mat and begin loosening up your body.  Then you are chugging water like a camel storing up water for a trek through the desert, because you know that the first 45 minutes you will not be given a break to get water.  

You know the class is challenging when the instructor says to me, on that very first day (3 weeks ago), "Your goal is to stay in the room for the entire 90 minutes."  I never realized how hard that feat would be.  That first day I managed to attempt every pose.  Toward the end, though, I found myself laying on my mat, praying that I would not vomit.  

Today was my 3rd class of Bikram.  I had a different instructor.  His voice was calming and less like the cheerleading Dr. Seuss voice to which I had grown accutomed.  I found myself stretching further into poses and balancing a bit better.  Eventually, my muscles started to shake and I began to tremble, all over, as I endeavored to hold the poses.  And, about 75 minutes into the class, as we are laying on our backs between the floor poses, I hit a wall.  I felt like I was going to throw up that half of banana that I had eaten earlier.  Queasy.  Exhausted.  Spent.  I felt that I had nothing left to give.  As I lay there at rock bottom, ready to give up, I heard the instructor say, "Rest.  Let the floor hold you."

With every muscle in my body trembling, I had been on the verge of weeping.  I was feeling inadequate.  Once, again, struggling with body image issues.  And simply beyond exhausted.  Those two minutes on the floor, where he spoke into being the words, "Let the floor hold you," were a turning point that changed everything.  I released control.  Sweat poured off my body as I surrendered and treasured those 120 seconds between poses.  Then, exhaling deeply, I joined my fellow sojourners into doing a sit up from the floor to move into the next pose.  From that point on, I was a little more gracious with myself.  I concentrated on breathing.  In.  And out.  Through my nose.  Each time we got to lay and rest and let the floor hold us, I was grateful.  Even though I knew that blasted sit up was coming and the next seemingly impossible pose after that.  

I realized it wasn't about performance or comparing myself to anyone else.  It was about being present, breathing, aligning my body, mind, and soul.  And that was enough.  Each time I was reminded to let the floor hold me, I felt I was being carried.  Eyes open, endeavoring to stay present in the room, I prayed and imagined the Holy Spirit holding me and carrying me through.  I was not alone.  A fellow sojourner smiled encouragingly at me and showed me how to contort my body into a pose that I was struggling with.  

At the end of the 90 minutes, you get to just lay on the floor and breathe and let the floor hold you.  As I slowly breathed in and out.  I felt gratitude and strength.  I was grateful for what my body had done for me.  And I was flying high.  I felt strong.  Amazing.  And, yes, still exhausted, but not defeated.  

Where in your spiritual life do you need to "Let the floor hold you."  Where do you need to surrender, to trust in God to carry you through?  How has self-reliance gotten in the way?  How has pride gotten in the way? Where do you need to give yourself more grace?  No matter what you are walking through in life, you are not alone.  

As I looked around at my fellow sojourners in the yoga room, I realized that I have no clue what is going on in their lives.  This knowledge invited me to give grace not only to myself but to them.  Today, pause.  Breathe.  In and out.  Approach yourself with love and grace.  Approach yourself with gratitude.  And then begin to take that approach with all that you meet.  You are stronger than you think.  And God's grace and presence carries you through when you have nothing more to give.

Namaste,* my friends!   

*The sacred in me sees the sacred in you.

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