The instructor told us to look in the mirror and see how exhausted we looked. He said seeing ourselves so fatigued and strained would develop our self-compassion. The mirror reflected my ghoulish, stressed and sweaty face and my under eye circles looked so dark.
"It's OK to look like a wreck," he said gently and I almost wanted to cry because I looked terrible, utterly terrible. In my haste to get to class on time, I had decided to forgo my water bottle. Bad idea. I desperately longed for a sip or rather, a huge gulp of water right from the start and felt like shit. Soon I was in and out of Child’s pose and my efforts to rejoin the practice became increasingly feeble because all I wanted to do was remain in child’s pose and recover. Child’s pose gave me a new awareness of our need to “recover” from life’s stresses and I felt a deep compassion when I saw others going into the pose too.
Meanwhile the knot in my stomach threatened to manifest as vomit and I realized how badly I needed to cool off. I tried to discreetly head out but the instructor intercepted me and advised me to remain in the vestibule between the yoga room and the rest of the gym where it was warmer. "It will be harder to return if you go out there," he said. I spent the next 2 minutes in a forward fold as I focused on containing the knot of vomit. Somehow, the vomit receded and I went back in for round 2. If only I had water, I thought as we went into Twisted Prayer pose. The instructor gently spotted me because he knew I would fall if I held the pose in proper alignment as I had no strength. I moved through Twisted Prayer but realized I was through at Eagle pose. The heat siphoned my energy and my body was spent.
I gathered my towel and thanked the instructor with as much grace as I could muster in my state of shame. My body reveled in the cool air and I felt my mind clearing in relief. I took a long drink of water, grateful and spent. I followed my instinct to walk slowly and cool down with some forward folds, standing poses and yes, downward dogs but did not do Savasana, supposedly the most important pose of the practice.