I was seventy minutes into a ninety minute hot vinyasa class and all I could think about were my hips.
We were in a variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or pigeon pose. The room was just over a hundred degrees, I was dripping with sweat and my entire world had shrunk to a tiny sphere encapsulating me, my hips, and pain.
The name pigeon makes this pose sound non-threatening. Pigeons? All they do is eat bread crumbs and flutter around. How intense can anything named after them be?
Apparently, the yoga instructor explained in a soft voice that was meant to be soothing, I carried my stress in my hips. All that I needed to do was just relax and breath through the discomfort and soon I would feel much better.
My first instict was to lash out at her for her calm self-assurance. My second was to curl up in a ball. Instead, I tried to do as instructed and focus on my breathing. Big breath in, relax and breath out.
As the seconds ticked by I could feel my hips opening up little by little. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the pain went away, but my tight stressed out muscles did start to ease.
On any given day you can probably find me involved in some activity that people might consider “extreme” or “intense”.
I have been doing CrossFit since 2008 and my favorite workouts are the long ones. The workouts where you have to up your mental game, pace yourself, and just not quit.
One of my favorite ways to spend a morning is trail running through the woods, racing down a hill with abandon, wild and free – probably while cackling with glee.
I climb rocks and hike up mountains carrying half my body weight. I have been so exhausted and mentally defeated that I have cried. While on vacation. More than once.
Why do I willingly and repeatedly subject myself to these things?
When I am in a challenging yoga pose or half way up a rock wall all of my focus is on what I am doing in that moment. There is no room for thinking about work stress or the million items on my to do list. There is only what I am doing right here, right now.
Pushing myself turns down the volume on the noise in my life and allows me to bring that same focus to other areas once I redirect my attention.
I am getting ready to run my second 30+ mile race this year at the end of April for my 34th birthday. The race is a team realy with 4 members on your team. Each person runs 6 five mile (give or take) legs over 24 hours.
I can’t wait to see how this test stretches my circle of experience.