Oy! Yoga kicked my asana today. I did two classes in a row, beginning at four this afternoon. Throughout the first part of the first class, I felt sick to my stomach, but found relief by finding my eyes in the mirror and repeating my mantra, “I am.” In the second session, I felt so dizzy that I had to sit down several times. Again I found my eyes in the mirror and said to myself, “I am.” It’s a pretty powerful mantra, as Nisargadatta Maharaj found out. (And no, I’m not religious. I agree with Christopher Hill that God is Not Great and that religion poisons everything. But I also find peace in this simple, secular statement.)
Why was I so tired? Getting up at 4:30 this morning might have had something to do with it. Only one train travels non-stop from Pittsburgh to DC and it leaves at 5:20. My son needed to board it, so I drove him down there. It wasn’t so bad after we got out the door.
Toxins, mostly residue from sugars, probably also slowed me down today. I missed yoga yesterday because I had to drive my son’s friend down to McKee’s Rocks in the morning. And since it was my son’s last evening in Pittsburgh, and I don’t get to see him very often, I chose to have dinner with him instead of going to the night class. I knew I could do a double today. It was nevertheless not wise to eat mashed potatoes (his favorite) and pasta (my favorite) instead of green vegetables and fish. Nor was it sensible to indulge in the candied nuts I make very year, or in two glasses of wine.
I don’t regret the wine. It was a marvelous Bordeaux, dry and round and musky in the mouth. I do regret the carbs and the sugars.
It’s true what my yoga teachers say every day–that daily practice helps the digestion and keeps the blood sugars regulated. But it also helps to settle the heart and emotions. According to my teacher this evening, stress is harder on the body than sugar and other not necessarily healthy things that we ingest.
Today was stressful. Not because I got up well before sunrise; not because I haven’t been sleeping well for a week. Not because I’ve been indulging my love of fatty, starchy, and sugary food. Today was stressful because I parted–only temporarily–with my son. He’s lived far away from me since he was six years old. We have a good relationship because we have both made an effort to know each other. He seems to have adjusted fairly well to the separation, and now that he’s in college it is obviously common and normal to live on his own. I, however, seem to have a deep wound. Like an old war-injury, it aches and troubles me, sometimes more, sometimes less. I know the pain is old, not really relevant to the present. It’s an emotional reflex, a resurgence of sadness, of loss, of inconsolable heartbreak remembered, that triggers when I have to let him go again.
This dark wave that breaks over me brought me under in yoga today. I am not talking about something that exists only in my head, in thoughts, in memories, but rather a physical experience, a somatic condition. The mind and the body are connected. What makes it bearable, insofar as it is bearable, is that I know that it is just a wave. I know that I’ll go under and that the current might tumble and toss me more wildly than I might expect. I also know that if I just go limp during the worst bits, and swim when the surge begins to abate, that I’ll come up and through and out. The wave will recede, and I will get back on my feet.
I’m feeling rather beached now. But I still love the ocean.