hot yoga by default, sliding along the surface of the mat when i try to lower into dolphin. it was deceptively luxe, thicker than the whisper of a cushion i unroll on my floor at home. sometimes, when i press my knee straight through that napkin into the hardwood and feel it punch back, i tell myself that the knees of my ancestors imprinted themselves with woven bamboo and red earth, taking caution not to squish the ants that explored the new terrain they offered. i can handle a $10 mat, i think.
and i missed it – it’s waffle pattern gripping my palms when i push into it, the feeling of the floor beneath it, the reminder of the solid ground on which i practice. the plush studio mat managed to be spongy and slick at once, the ridges all bark and no bite. i skated over them, the bumps barely slowing the impending union between face and foam. by the time we made it to supta virasana – reclining hero – i felt i’d earned it. sinking down onto my knees, and back, and back, shoulders sighing into the mat. laying back like this, i was finally grateful for the extra padding of the studio mat.
let your arms fall over your head. give yourself to the full surrender.
the instructor’s voice floating to me like the incense she would later burn, like the warm air so humid it was condensing into clouds. this had been far from my best practice. i had yet to lose myself to rhythm and flow, to feel my body rooting to the earth, to my soul. i let my arms rise, draped them overhead lazily, reaching out like the cats in their morning stretches strive for the sun. i fell open, unshelled, lay vulnerable as each breath pulled my insides further out. it hurt, the way it does – not physically, but deeply and truly, like the ache of loss. and it was satisfying, the way it is – like pulling off a scab, or rolling a twisted ankle. when i breathed in, the air fed me, filled me. i could have flown.