Lessons from Hot Yoga
My friend Sarah and I quietly walked into the crowded, hot yoga room, and I felt my body immediately react to the heat. The smell of sweat and bodies was familiar, but one I always have to adjust to, no matter how many classes I take. It was 6:00am and yet the room was full. Sarah and I raised our eyebrows at each other and wondered where we should place our mats. I pointed my head towards the window, and Sarah whispered, “I guess that is our only option.” We tiptoed through the maze of people, rolled out our mats and smiled at each other, thankful to find two spaces together.
It only took about five minutes for us both to understand why those two spots were free. The early morning sun screamed through the window and danced all over our faces. It forced me to close my eyes at times and added extra heat to the already 100+ degree room.
Sarah was off to my left and I kept trying to step into her shadow to avoid the sun’s strong light and heat. It offered little relief. Even when we sat on the floor, the light found us. It added a discomfort to the class I had not experienced before, and Sarah caught my eye at one point with an expression that said something like, “What have we done??” When we finally finished the class, I felt spent, exhausted, but also thankful that we made it. As we left, one woman said, “When you are next to the window, it’s like an entirely different class.” So true.
I recently wrote a post about finding light in the darkness and the hope it brings. But this class reminded me that sometimes the light can make us uncomfortable too. In Philippians 1:6 it says, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” I like thinking about that promise, but bringing something to completion isn’t always easy. In fact, healing and growth and change can feel really uncomfortable. It can be tempting to just stay where it is familiar and avoid having any light shine on the things we need to look at about ourselves.
And yet, if we want patterns in our life to change, we need the Lord’s light to reveal truth about those patterns.
I remember one time when my girls and I piled into the car to take a day trip together. I had a lot of expectations about our time together and wanted everything to go just as I planned. As we clicked on our seatbelts, I looked in the rear view mirror and said, “Let’s pray for our trip!” As I closed out the prayer with an amen, my oldest daughter said, “Was that a prayer or just a long list of how you want us to act for the rest of the day?”
For while there is nothing wrong with praying for the details of the day, she had totally picked up on my motive of wanting everyone to behave and get along and all the things that would add to a “perfect” day and she called me on it.
That extra light was uncomfortable, but also important. And I really appreciated Emily’s honest insight. It actually changed the dynamic for the rest of the day because of what she was willing to say to me. And I also because I was willing to hear it.
In the book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone*, author and therapist Lori Gottleib tells about a client named Becca who comes every week for sessions, but changes the subject or blames someone else every time Lori tries to address the deeper issues. Gottleib writes,
“When I tried to talk about her anger, she’d shut down. When I wondered if the shutting down was a way of keeping out what I had to say for fear it might hurt her, she’d say again that I misunderstood. If I asked why she kept coming to see me if she felt so misunderstood, she’d say I was abandoning her and that I wished she would leave – just like her boyfriends or her peers at work. When I tried to help her consider why those people pulled away from her, she’d say the boyfriends were commitment-phobes and her coworkers were snobby.”
Gottleib continues, “She wasn’t willing to look at what she was doing that made it difficult for people to give her what she wanted. Though Becca came to me wanting aspects of her life to change, she didn’t seem open to actually changing.”
Are we open to actually changing? It won’t always be easy, but it is worth it. And even though the light can be uncomfortable, there is grace and freedom if we are willing to allow it into our lives.
I love this version of Psalm 139:23-24:
“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the that test and sift through all of my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways- the path that brings me back to you.”
May His light and this prayer bring great encouragement to your week.
*I highly recommend this book!