Thoughtful Contrasts

I opened the door and edged into the room to find a spot. The blast of heat was jarring. I moved among those already there, thankful for the unknown but welcoming faces that softened the air, and unrolled my mat somewhere in the back. I had been in this room many times, but never for a hot yoga class. I sat quietly, seeking a detachment from my day outside those walls and a presence within them and couldn’t help wondering what lay ahead of me. I had heard stories of what this experience was going to be like, but I quickly realized those stories weren’t a reasonable substitute for the real thing. Then again, what stories are?

The room was 105˚ when class began and the sweat was already pooling below me. The air was stifling and the windows set high above the bamboo floors had clouded, obscuring the outside world serving as a visual reminder of why I was doing this in the first place. The sound of the teacher’s peaceful yet resonate voice blended in with the class’s intentional breaths. We flowed from pose to pose, most of which I was familiar with, and it wasn’t long before I could feel my body laboring in this environment. Positions with which I was normally comfortable were becoming increasingly difficult and my focus danced. My legs shook, my head spun and my lungs gasped, forcing my mouth to open and clutch at the hot, wet air. Not even a third of the way through the class I had looked at the clock at least ten times.

That first hot yoga class was a challenge. There were moments that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it and those that I wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was hard and exhausting and uncomfortable and humbling. There were times I didn’t know exactly what I was doing and times I wished I was doing something else.

But, when it was over and I hadn’t quit and had done the best that I could, I was elated. I walked proudly, if not steadily, out of the studio into a beautiful moment filled with accomplishment and exhaustion. I was better for having done it. From the practice itself I was one step further on my infinite path toward balance and self-awareness. From the experience I learned just a little more about discipline and perseverance and determination. It taught me about myself.

Really, it was a lot like fatherhood.

Being a parent isn’t always pretty and it is always beautiful. It is the greatest and most difficult thing I have ever done. Being a parent demands patience and discipline and constancy. It offers joy and sanctity and light. It forces you to question, to dig within to find something deeper and to do things that are sometimes uncomfortable in order to grow. It makes you unsure and confident. It is draining and uplifting. Being a parent is a challenge and an immeasurable gift.

Life is like that a lot – illuminating parallels drawn in the space between the micro and the macro, between moments and the big picture. The contrast of the dark and the light within all of those moments, both the big and the small, can foster individual evolution if we just allow ourselves to be present. Show up, do your best and don’t quit. There are lessons there to be learned and benefits there to be found if we just choose to see them.

I will continue to strive to embrace all of the beauty and the difficulty of fatherhood. And I can’t wait to go to my second hot yoga class next week.

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About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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12 Responses to Thoughtful Contrasts

  1. Maggie Batt says:

    Beautifully put TPop. I have a hard time in hot yoga. I’m already too fired up (pitta). It’s a challenge to get through the hot months of summer. You inspire me with your ability to focus.

    • Thank you, my friend. I had a really hard time with it, too (obviously), but I left feeling wonderful. And I haven’t really come down from the energy yet (and that was 3 days ago). I hope you are well.

  2. Meka says:

    “From the experience I learned just a little more about discipline and perseverance and determination. It taught me about myself.”

    There is no way I can make someone see this point or realize it or believe it. People always ask why I run…… you just answered the question better than I ever have. This is what I wish I could get all of my clients to experience and feel. We have so much to learn from ourselves if we would just open up to it.

    Thank you my friend for putting into words what I have tried for years to explain. More so I am so incredibly happy that you had such a wonderful experience and some time to experience it.

    hmmm…I think I may have to make your blog a mandaory read for my clients:)

    • Yeah, I don’t know if the experience or just the time to do it was more uplifting. 🙂 Hopefully, it is going to be a more regular thing.

      Thank you, once again, for sharing your time with me, my dear friend. I hope things are drying up over there a bit. I sure miss seeing y’all.

  3. David says:

    Brother Father,

    This sounds a little like when I mow the lawn on a summer afternoon or evening, or walk Maxwell in the stifiling summer heat. Hot yoga can be where we find it here in Florida. Thank God for the pool afterward, or the cool kitchen tile floor for Max. Balance and moderation are critical. Ying and Yang. Peace, love and happiness to you and yours, Brother Father.

    • Florida is, indeed, a ready-made hot yoga class this time of year. Could you ask Max if I could join him on your kitchen floor this evening as I am going to class #2 while the girls are in their class?

      Thanks for sharing your time and your Qi with me once again, Brother Father.

  4. Carla Peak says:

    I am so glad you are my daughter’s friend. It can never hurt to have friends with such insight.

  5. GangstaFish says:

    You know, this was truly motivating; usually when I read blogs you can’t forget it’s in first person, because any first-person pronoun is mentioned every few words, or it’s extremely conversational, so you feel like you’re just exchanging a few words, you know, the pleasentry remarks, the obligatory statements…

    And there’s nothing wrong with that of course, I LOVE that in blogs, but this was different, and I really LOVED this, too. It wasn’t completely first-person-written for lack of a better phrase, and what I mean by that is, you put forth your words so precisely and clearly that it was…well, it was precise and clear enough to leave an impression on you that’s bigger than one you get from reading any other conversatinoal blog.

    Needless to say, you conveyed your message wonderfully, and I will definitely keep your words in mind for the future. I aplaud. Applaud. Whatever. 😀

    • Wow. Thank you, sir (?), for your kind words – I am truly honored that you felt that way. I do work very hard at finding the best way to say what I am trying to say, so to hear that I at least partially succeeded is wonderful.

      I appreciate you sharing your time with me.

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