Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Eagle Butte

Recipe for reconstruction: exercise, meditation, positive thinking, friendship and heat

I love the way I feel when I exit a sweat ceremony or meditation in the sauna at the CRST Fitness Center after a workout with my friend Sherri.

So when I read about hot yoga, I really wanted to try it. My friend Ben posted on Facebook that the hot yoga classes he was taking were tough, and he thought he was in good physical condition.

Working out with someone is one way to motivate one to push boundaries. Sherri always pushes me to do more and try harder, but she and I and the Eagle Butte community would greatly benefit from a hot yoga class like the one The Hot Room offers in Indianapolis, IN.

Throughout my life, I have tried yoga movements here and there, worked with a yoga/pilates video for six months with great results, and Sherri and I use various pilates moves and yoga stretches when we work out. I have even thought about taking yoga classes somewhere, sometime, but never really pursued that thought.

After nine years of taking mini vacations and working through most summers close to my home in Eagle Butte, I decided to take the summer to spend time with my parents.

My mother lives in Indianapolis, and since I am in Indy for a month, I decided to research the hot yoga offerings, and I landed in The Hot Room in downtown Indy with unlimited classes for the first month at a special newbie price of $39.

The owners, Hye Jin and Ashish Kalgaonkar started the Bikram Yoga practice five years ago, and have two locations — one north of Indianapolis, and one downtown Indianapolis.

Like the Fitness Center, the Hot Room poses challenges, and I decided to join the 20 classes in 30 days challenge. Day 5 in, I can feel muscles I forgot existed, muscles I did not realize were so weak, and a renewed vigor that I have not felt since track and soccer workouts in high school.

I feel cleansed, my attitude is improving, and I think I am losing weight.

Since last June, Sherri and I have been working out religiously. Since January, I have been listening to sleep meditation audio clips posted on YouTube by Micheal Sealey since I was having trouble sleeping and wanted to see if hypnosis and meditation could really improve my underlying perspective. I also make my bed each morning and tell myself, “Today is going to be a good day.”

I have felt a change in my mood, my focus and my attitude. The Hot Room yoga instructors and classes step up my game and reinforce much of what I try to practice at home, at work with colleagues and in my own classroom with my students.

At 48, I really have no excuses. I have been on this earth long enough to know that the only person who is really going to take care of me and make my remaining years worthwhile is me.

My kids are out of high school and starting their lives. While not in the clear yet, their graduation into adulthood and their desire for independence affords me with a chance to focus more acutely on getting myself into a better state — emotionally, mentally, and physically — in preparation for the latter half of my 100-year or more stint in this earth.

Making sure I am in the best physical shape helps me ensure I am also in the best mental state, and as new-agey and hokey as it may sound, I believe the sleep meditation, exercise, and change in my diet has helped me to be better at everything I do.

This brings me back to the Hot Room and David Suarez, a Hot Room instructor who said in one class that when you are uncomfortable, that is when the work begins, and to push through the work. While not the only instructor to share these words in the yoga classes I started taking a week ago, his choice of words, the disclaimer he offered that reflected my own “this may sound hokey” thinking, struck a chord in me.

I actually teared up. I tell my students about the work required to get through literature reading and writing assignments, their sports practices and other work, and I tell them over and over the benefits that follow their consistent and continuous effort.

When we push through our own boundaries, we grow. So often we seek comfort and ease; we liken that comfort and ease with peace, and then we wonder why we are unhappy.

On The Hot Room website, the small company states, “Yoga helps to change the construction of the body from the inside out. The room is intentionally heated to warm up the body and assist with circulation, promote detoxification and provide optimum conditions so that the change you want can happen more efficiently. It also allows you to work safely and deeply into the postures, giving faster results. The heat provides a challenging environment which increases your strength, concentration, endurance and stamina. The heat is definitely something that takes getting used to.”

We talk about heat metaphorically when we things get tough, and we say things like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” but are we all truly being tough when the heat rises?

We cannot just put on buffalo skin and hope it acts like armor deflecting the pain of our past, present and future.

We must work from the inside out to transform who we are into who we want to become, and that transformation takes time, requires patience and hard work.

One of my favorite poems for my junior high school students to read, “Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadswoth Longfellow, embodies the same sentiments I embrace in becoming the best person I can be, and that people like those who run the Hot Room seem to also embrace: transformation takes action, patience and continued effort. 

Longfellow says it best, and since it has long been in the public domain, I share it with you here:

Psalm of Life

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

   Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

   And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

   Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each tomorrow

   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

   And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,

   In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

   Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

   We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

   With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

   Learn to labor and to wait.