Yoga Brain Freak-Out

Saturday’s class was H-O-T. Seriously. And it was crowded. Hot + crowded = extremely hot. I was already dripping by the end of the second set of the first breathing exercise. Noticeably dripping. My mind did a bit of a freak out on me. Of course I expect to sweat in a Bikram class. That’s one of the main reasons why I go. When it’s all over I feel fantastic. But when I start sweating a bunch right away it makes my brain do a little freak-out.

I tried to calm myself down by checking in with my body. How was I feeling in terms of hydration? Fine. I did not feel thirsty. I did not need water (oh yes. I drank it, but I did not need it). I got a stomachache when we hit standing bow. “I need to run out and go to the bathroom!” was my thought. No. No, I didn’t. My mind just wanted me to. Before I took to running out of the room, which my mind wanted so very, very much, I sat down on my mat. Yep. I just sat down and breathed. I checked in with my body. Am I really about to have what falls under the involuntary ejection clause? At my studio, you can leave the room if something is about to leave your body AND you have no control over keeping it in. I had this happen to me once when I thought I had recovered from a stomach virus. I thought I had recovered. I was wrong.

So I breathed a bit and determined my little stomachache didn’t qualify for leaving the room. By the time balancing stick was over I felt fine and got back into it.

Sort of. My brain still wanted to have a shouting match with me. According to the instructor, the heat and humidity levels were dead on perfect (105 degrees and 40%). I don’t want to minimize the dizziness I felt. That was real, and I did slow down the pace to make sure I was ok. But, my breathing was fine, my heart rate was good, and I was well hydrated and appropriately fed. Technically, I was having few issues on the physical level. Everything was mental. My brain just kept screaming about how hot and awful it was and while I would not die, surely I would inflict something horrible upon myself for being in the room.

God. My brain is such a brat sometimes. I kept having to go back to my breath and actively check-in with it. As long as it was under control I knew I was fine.

This argument with my brain made for a difficult and exhausting class, but it was also good for me. It was just what I needed. Maybe my postures didn’t look as good as they would on most other days, but it was good for me to have this argument with my brain. I did not give in.When my brain freaked out, I responded by checking my body out and looking to see if the problem was mental or physical or both (the answer: mostly mental). This shows growth. In the past I would have taken my brain at its word. Why would my brain lie to me? Oh, because it’s a big whiny mess up in there. That’s why. I bet it even got my stomach in on the action and convinced it to hurt in an effort to trick me out of the room. Didn’t work.

This experience reminds me that we are all doing out best even when it looks like we are not. It’s so important to just pay attention to yourself and not judge what the person on the mat next to you is doing. It’s also important not to be overly critical of yourself. If my mind had won, if I had left the room, that would not have been great. But the more important thing would have been to learn from that and move on.

So, my advice is this: When you have a rough class see it as a sign of growth. You’re having a rough class because you need it. You can get something out of it (besides a good nap afterwards). Check in with yourself and see what you find.

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