I've been going to hot yoga the past week. Usually I wouldn't choose heated yoga, but as a first time student it was cheap. Hot yoga studios are not only different in that they are hot, they also have mirrors, and teachers don't make adjustments by touch (if at all).
Having my abdominal fat melt in one week while eating staggering amounts of food slightly changed my opinion. Despite the well known fact that heat or sweat does not burn all that many calories, my metabolism seems to work extra hard under these conditions. I sweat a river and I feel my heartbeat much more accelerated than what is warranted by my physical effort. Also, when I'm done with my practice and leave the studio I feel physically deflated. I can't work out at the gym after a hot yoga session. It decreases performance in exchange for other benefits.
The benefits I've noticed are increased flexibility (I thought it was a myth, but I have experienced it myself) and--as mentioned before--increased metabolic rate.
Yesterday after yoga I biked to Lachine Canal and parked my bike there. It was a very cold night and I was not well dressed for the weather, but I wanted to walk anyways, there is something beautiful about it. I stick my hands in my pockets and brought my arms close to my torso to conserve some heat, hunching my back in the process, and even though this stance allowed me to walk and conserve heat at the same time, something felt emotionally wrong about it.
Some years (decades?) ago there were some studies which indicated that physical posture influences psychological states. You might say, for example, that walking sticking out your arms and puffing out your chest might put you in a more dominant state. This study, along with many other psychological studies, where put into question when researchers couldn't replicate results. My personal opinion on the matter is "it's complicated". Having yourself become dominant by puffing up your posture is like becoming stronger by mentating about your strongness. Mind and body work in unison, and if your mind and heart know you are a coward, no amount of posturing will bring you courage.
I walked down the channel and chose a different philosophy to stay warm. I thought: "I'm trying to conserve heat, what if I try generating it?" and so I deliberately made my walk more intense, not by walking faster but by making each step use the glutes to propel forward, while keeping the core tight and strong. It didn't take long to feel comfortable, the cold wind was still blowing, but somehow it had null effect, it felt very similar to the hotness of the yoga studio--you know that weird sensation where something cold feels hot and viceversa? That's how it felt.
Tightening the core has the side effect of straightening your spine. Walking with my hands out of my pockets, standing tall, with a brisk pace not only warmed me up, but it made me feel more integrated. A description of Jesus by Khalil Gibran comes to mind "His body was single and each part seemed to love every other part", which I think is a wonderful description for someone well put together.
There is a parallel in our mind in which we are composed of different parts or "voices". When we are undecided and agonizing over a decision, it's because two or more voices are in an argument. People who are in perpetual state of inner turmoil waste a lot of their life energy arguing with themselves. When someone has inner harmony it causes a similar effect to perceiving someone whose parts "love themselves". When we do something inappropriate we might feel shame or guilt. What do you tell yourself? "You stupid idiot never do that again"? or "It's OK you will do better next time?". This is a natural psychological state when your mental parts love each other.
One could say that we are relationship, even when we are looking at the individual. You are not your heart, your brain or your sexual organs, you are the relationship between the organs of your body. Extending beyond the individual, we are also not isolated humans, we exist thanks to the relationship with other human beings, and other human beings rely on our very existence, even if you (or they) don't know it.
(from "Jesus the Son of Man" by Kahlil Gibran)
On Meeting Jesus for the First Time
It was in the month of June when I saw Him for the first time. He was walking in the wheat field when I passed by with my handmaidens, and He was alone.
The rhythm of His steps was different from other men's, and the movement of His body was like naught I had seen before.
Men do not pace the earth in that manner. And even now I do not know whether He walked fast or slow.
My handmaidens pointed their fingers at Him and spoke in shy whispers to one another. And I stayed my steps for a moment, and raised my hand to hail Him. But He did not turn His face, and He did not look at me. And I hated Him. I was swept back into myself, and I was as cold as if I had been in a snow-drift. And I shivered.
That night I beheld Him in my dreaming; and they told me afterward that I screamed in my sleep and was restless upon my bed.
It was in the month of August that I saw Him again, through my window. He was sitting in the shadow of the cypress tree across my garden, and He was still as if He had been carved out of stone, like the statues in Antioch and other cities of the North Country.
And my slave, the Egyptian, came to me and said, "That man is here again. He is sitting there across your garden."
And I gazed at Him, and my soul quivered within me, for He was beautiful.
His body was single and each part seemed to love every other part.
Then I clothed myself with raiment of Damascus, and I left my house and walked towards Him.
Was it my aloneness, or was it His fragrance, that drew me to Him? Was it a hunger in my eyes that desired comeliness, or was it His beauty that sought the light of my eyes?
Even now I do not know.
I walked to Him with my scented garments and my golden sandals, the sandals the Roman captain had given me, even these sandals. And when I reached Him, I said, "Good-morrow to you."
And He said, "Good-morrow to you, Miriam."
And He looked at me, and His night-eyes saw me as no man had seen me. And suddenly I was as if naked, and I was shy.
Yet He had only said, "Good-morrow to you."
And then I said to Him, "Will you not come to my house?"
And He said, "Am I not already in your house?"
I did not know what He meant then, but I know now.
And I said, "Will you not have wine and bread with me?"
And He said, "Yes, Miriam, but not now."
Not now, not now, He said. And the voice of the sea was in those two words, and the voice of the wind and the trees. And when He said them unto me, life spoke to death.
For mind you, my friend, I was dead. I was a woman who had divorced her soul. I was living apart from this self which you now see. I belonged to all men, and to none. They called me harlot, and a woman possessed of seven devils. I was cursed, and I was envied.
But when His dawn-eyes looked into my eyes all the stars of my night faded away, and I became Miriam, only Miriam, a woman lost to the earth she had known, and finding herself in new places.
And now again I said to Him, "Come into my house and share bread and wine with me."
And He said, "Why do you bid me to be your guest?"
And I said, "I beg you to come into my house." And it was all that was sod in me, and all that was sky in me calling unto Him.
Then He looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and He said, "You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in your self. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended.
"I alone love the unseen in you."
Then He said in a low voice, "Go away now. If this cypress tree is yours and you would not have me sit in its shadow, I will walk my way."
And I cried to Him and I said, "Master, come to my house. I have incense to burn for you, and a silver basin for your feet. You are a stranger and yet not a stranger. I entreat you, come to my house."
Then He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down upon the field, and He smiled. And He said again: "All men love you for themselves. I love you for yourself."
And then He walked away.
But no other man ever walked the way He walked. Was it a breath born in my garden that moved to the east? Or was it a storm that would shake all things to their foundations?
I knew not, but on that day the sunset of His eyes slew the dragon in me, and I became a woman, I became Miriam, Miriam of Mijdel.