Bikram yoga is weird. Sometimes the instructors say the most ridiculous things. For example, many people struggle with "camel pose", which is a deep back bend. The problem with camel pose is that it immediately follows some deep forward bending, so all your blood rushes to your head - and then abruptly away - leaving you quite dizzy and sometimes nauseous. I struggle with it sometimes. One day one of the instructors (I call her "In Recovery") announced that the real reason this pose is difficult is that it requires one to open up the heart chakra. (Chakras are "knots" in the "energy channels" of the body. It makes sense in an intuitive kind of way, but in pragmatic terms it's nonsense.) Camel pose requires such an enormous commitment to opening up the heart chakra, according to some yogis, that people cannot do it because they are too emotionally fragile to do so. This kind of thing makes me angry when I am looking for simple instructions, like, "Move your hands closer to your hips," and someone tells me to: "open your heart more, don't be afraid of the emotions that flood your body".
Not all the instructors are like that, though. Some are very scientific and have education around anatomy and physiology. And one of them (I call her Drill Sergeant) yells a lot, which really fucks with my zen. And one of them is a comedian who uses the class to test out his jokes, though it's hard to laugh when you're tied in a knot, even when it really is quite funny. And one of the more useful pieces of transferrable wisdom I've received… "Ask yourself if you're giving up because it hurts. Or is it just uncomfortable? Or are you actually just bored?"
I have spent the last two months doing Bikram yoga. My balance is greatly improved (another transferrable), my resting heart rate is lower, and I have developed something I hardly recognize on my own body… biceps. I have not bought the whole package of chakras and emotional healing and blah blah blah. But I have bought into the notion of taking time to tell the difference between pain and discomfort (and boredom). And I have bought a membership, and I have bought tiny stretchy yoga shorts.
My obsessive nature means this has become somewhat all-encompassing over the summer. Just like any other obsession. Running or tiling my floors or picking at my cuticles. It's all the same. I don't know if I will continue to stay focused on this once other things sweep in (like work), but I hope so. It feels like a better way to channel energy than some of my other choices have been. I'm a camel, I'm a rabbit, I'm a tortoise, I'm an eagle, I'm a tree.
J and I took the bus to her university, which she will begin attending on Tuesday. We took the bus so I could show her how to get there on her own, and then we wandered around the campus and found all her classrooms so she would feel less lost on her first day. I think it helped her to feel more positive about it. She is not the type to dive into new things headlong and without reservations. She takes time to warm up to new experiences and new people, and this is something that can serve her well or be a problem, depending how she uses it. Our dry run, I hope, will have set her up to be more comfortable from Day One. It made me miss being a university student, wearing weird clothes and thinking the world was all mine.
Tuesday is also supposed to be the day I return to work, but the strike may well prevent that from happening. "Talks" are ongoing, but progress seems limited. I don't have much faith in our leader, and even less in the government. D and I have swapped roles in this dispute. He began as the naysayer, dragging his heels on calling meetings and shooting down most of the calls to action from our union. This, while I pointed at the concessions. This while I tried to appeal to the staff about doing the right thing, protecting our new teachers, and protecting public education. Eight weeks later I find myself ready to change strategies, ready to make a concession or two in exchange for some peace, ready to let people collect a paycheque. And D has somehow, mysteriously, become ultra-militant. And has begun spouting nonsensical propaganda like a good little union soldier. I have no idea who he has turned into, but I'm pretty sure it comes from hanging out with pods. He has repeatedly invited me to attend his pod meetings, and I have repeatedly refused.