I was in my Bikram yoga class, late this January afternoon. I love that time, being in a hot, humid room as the sky outside darkens. I find myself going deeper and deeper inward as the world outside dims and its forms blend together into nothing recognizable.
The room was packed. Between the online deal that Radha, the studio owner, had recently offered, and the fact that it’s only January 8, so New Year’s resolutions are in full effect, our mats and towels lined up to use up almost every available space.
During the Triangle Pose, one person caught my eye. I imagined she was new to this world of following the rat-a-tat-tat of detailed instructions, as she lost her balance a couple of times and had to pick herself up and start again. She didn’t have the slender body of some of the yoginis in the room; then again, neither do I, and neither did many others of us.
As I returned to my own rhythm of focusing, breathing, spacing out, pushing my edges, and resting, I floated through some thoughts about New Year’s resolutions. I considered how some people might judge the fact that many of us take time to list our goals, clearing the way for new habits, new directions. I thought about the commentator I heard last week who wondered why it is so many of us pack the gyms right after the first of the year, and then, seemingly inevitably, lose our resolve over time.
I wondered something else. What is it about our species that we keep resolving? We point ourselves in a direction, and then head out into our lives again. Like one of those wind-up toys that starts marching along until it gets stuck on a rug or hits a wall, we get out of bed and start the day, carrying those resolutions of balance and health–until something pull us off track. The overnight shift or the crying baby or just too many emails to answer trip us back into working too hard or eating too much or that first cigarette.
And then something happens–New Year’s Day. A talk with a good friend. An ad in the paper for a yoga studio. And we bravely step into the unknown of sweat and heat and exertion and potential embarrassment, with yoga clothes that show way too much of bodies we normally hide. We step out onto the edges of who we’ve been to give it another try. We resolve. We pull together our determination–one more time–and start again.
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