Rain, a photo by Dominique on Flickr.
Again, the hot yoga. It is extreme punishment for all the years of neglect to my body - for the miscarriages, surgeries, pregnancies, births, the excess food, drink, the accidents, broken bones, arthritis, depression, age. No, the yoga isn't the punishment, the clunky, popping, cracking, unbalanced, awkward, jiggling body is the punishment. The yoga is just one of those paths to change.
In class I was thinking about Richard Simmons. His shows in the 80s would have my sister and I in stitches. I thought he was so weird with his big frizzy hair, spandex and little legs. Classes full of big, soft people with large t-shirts and white sneakers. Jane Fonda was popular then, too, with her perfectly made up face, head bands, bright colors. Classes full of happily, fit people. I laughed at Richard Simmons, but secretly I loved him. He was always hugging people. Someone would choke up, break into tears, and he would wrap his little arms around her big body telling her she's great. Everything was possible because Richard told you it was. But, I didn't need Richard then. I wasn't that fat. I worked out with Jane, but loved Richard.
Today, I am the biggest woman in class. I know, because I looked carefully at each woman there, weighing myself against her. Once in the past, I used to always identify someone in class who was bigger than myself. It kept my perspective when I would be too hard on myself for having a little pot, a soft layer over my muscles. For years I haven't gone to classes. I typically work out in privacy, isolation, because the biggest person in class in now me. No amount of clothing will minimize me. Spanx would be a decidedly bad idea for this class.
It was when moving from the Tandasana (tree) to Padang Ustasana (toe stand) that I thought about Richard Simmons. I was the only person left standing as the entire class of yogi's were low to the ground on just five toes each. Well, I should say not moving from one pose to the other because it takes every ounce of effort to not topple over with just one foot on the ground. My big self, towering above all those lithe, flexible, strong women, imagined him wrap his little arms around me to tell me I'm doing great.
In the locker room after class, trying to cool down, my friend asked me how it went today. "It kicked my ass," I said, trying to be funny. She asked again and I tried to put her off, because this is where the fat lady would cry and make a scene. Instead I smile, fight the tears, keep it light. Save the tears for the car.
I fought off the tears. This isn't about what I cannot do in the class - it is what I can do. I made it through another ninety minutes of Bikram Yoga. The heat, humidity, breathing, stretching, sweating, holding, strengthening.... felt really good.