Walking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago taught me many lessons about life. A few that are on my mind today include living in the now and striving to get outside of my comfort zones.
A lifelong friend invited me to attend a hot yoga class at a local studio. I passed on similar invitations many times for a variety of ridiculous reasons. I typically do not like exercising in the heat, so I convinced myself it would be a mistake. My ego threw in a few punches by questioning the masculinity of yoga. I was also self-conscious about looking like a dork without any prior experience practicing my tree pose.
On Christmas Eve, I climbed a few flights of stairs that took me to the steamy studio. A 93% naked instructor greeted me at the front desk and offered me the beginner special of $20 for two weeks of unlimited classes. My friend forgot to mention that men do not wear shirts in class so I had another hang-up to add to the pile. The chamber is around 105 degrees and sports a humidity around 40%. What the hell was I doing there?
The class began with a plethora or terms that were relatively new to me. In a calm tone, the scantily clad teacher began spewing foreign commands like “down dog, yinyasa flow, sun warrior, and rabbit.” While trying to copy the movement of the lady in front of me, a pool of sweat began to accumulate on my mat. Within ten minutes, I was completely drenched and dripping salty drops from every pore. While navigating the new language, I glommed onto the term “savasana” because it allowed my to lie on my back and rest. This word is underutilized during the 75 minute class.
While it was a struggle, it was also empowering. About an hour after the class, I felt like a king and slept like a baby through the night. On Christmas Day, I tried to get permission to arrive late to my brother’s house so I could sneak in another class. During the next two weeks, I made ten classes and really look forward to practicing yoga.
With a minuscule amount of experience, I am convinced that yoga, like the Camino, sucks a person into the now. Being in a hot room, while trying to push the physical limits of the body, accompanied by an intense focus on breathing, really keeps your mind in a meditative state. There is no time to regret yesterday or drift into the future. To me, that is the definition of living in the now.