Overall, this may be a triumphant week for me in hot yoga classes at Gyan Yoga. I used to experience great mental and emotional challenges in yoga classes; not to get all wishy-washy about it, but I didn’t know how to combat the accompanying feelings of doubt and insecurity and shame and guilt and inferiority, …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Hot Yoga, Week 18: Are You There Shiva? It's Me, Jason

Hot Yoga, Week 18: Are You There Shiva? It’s Me, Jason

Overall, this may be a triumphant week for me in hot yoga classes at Gyan Yoga.

I used to experience great mental and emotional challenges in yoga classes; not to get all wishy-washy about it, but I didn’t know how to combat the accompanying feelings of doubt and insecurity and shame and guilt and inferiority, and so these would overwhelm me.

For a while, I thought I was over these feelings, and that I felt good about my progress and my personal commitment and my investment in myself.

Surprise!  Actually, I had it all figured wrong!

This was revealed to me when a new yoga-mate appeared in class last week; I immediately had a real crisis of confidence and personal optimism.

Why?

This person wasn’t necessarily any “better” than me; in some poses, yes, they put me to shame, and in other poses, they were still “catching up”.

Shouldn’t I be more focused on me in yoga class?!

I think so, yes.

This person just had a real joy and zest for yoga and loved it; Shakespeare wrote some pithy great quote about the sharp sword of seeing happiness through another human’s eyes and you know, for a dead guy who came from the Old World, he really did know a lot about life here on Earth.

It knocked a wind out of my sails.  I did a whole hot yoga class with only a wispy ghost of a breeze propelling me; I didn’t even finish my jar of water.

Today, I held the door open for this person.  It really hit me to realize we’d be in class together yet again.

And it felt “yet again” even though it would only be the second time.

I grabbed a quick spot in the back of the studio, trying to put distance between us, because Out Of Sight Is Out Of Mind.  Alas, they ended up in a spot right in my sight line.

I was surprised at how quickly I wanted to leave; how quickly I ended up repeating, “I need to leave here right now,” in my interior monologue; it’s been years since I had a confidence crisis like that in yoga class.

I made the decision to get up and go; I paused to consider the neatest, quickest, most discrete exit.

However, I resolved to figure out a way to think myself through the class; I had to race my thoughts a bit, and I thought of the book that Rishi gave to me, about the idea of keeping “Shiva in mind” during yoga (and all of life).

I don’t think that there really is a Shiva; where are all these gods who used to appear to humanity with such frequency and ease?

However, if Indiana Jones believes in Shiva, then okay, I believe in Shiva, too.  (And I for one welcome our new Shiva overlord!)

It worked, more or less.  Scientists talk about the power of prayer; I don’t know anything, myself.  Did it give me focus, did it divert my attention, did it reboot my stuck-in-backwards thinking patterns?  Did Shiva actually reach out to a humble mortal trying to help?  It de-glued my crisis of nerves and gave me the positive thinking that I needed.  I told myself that I was investing in myself; I told Shiva that I was investing in myself.  Soon, I reminded myself how I’m an athlete now!  I felt physically loosened again to move around freer by the time Rishi entered the studio to commence the class, and everything turned out okay.

I’ve hoped to get a creative energy and inspiration from yoga class, as I used to in dance class.  Today, for the first time, I got it, and left the studio with some new thinking on a script I’d like to hammer out.

Competitive athletes in movies often face a rival who tries to psych them out; athletes in stories sometimes face personal crises of belief which stop or paralyze them.  It’s been a long time since I was this frozen or defeated in a yoga class; adding in the extra surprise today of realizing I was still susceptible to that kind of interior defeat, today’s interior mental and emotional crisis was a big one for me, I think.  Lately I’ve been trying to focus on positive thinking to try and regain and develop my optimism, mainly through writing a gratitude journal, and tomorrow’s entry will be of a gratitude to myself for beating today’s defeat, and to Rishi for giving me the book whose passage helped me in that wrestle.