The Moments That Make Up a Life

Yesterday morning I did something I haven’t done in months. I went to a heated power yoga class with one of my best friends and yoga buddies. Our favorite teacher was back from maternity leave, our schedules aligned for the first time in a while, so we decided to go on the spur of the moment. That’s always when the best things happen.

Neither of us had been to that studio in a while. In part due to our busy lives, and also because we’re fussy about our teachers. All right, we’re yoga snobs. We tend to prefer our home practices to a class where a teacher is forcing us to do yoga their way and we think their way stinks. Ten years ago, we enrolled in a year long yoga teacher training (otherwise known as YTT) together, so we know a little something about what we like and don’t.

YTT was a natural progression on our shared yoga journey. We’d met in a yoga class at a local gym over 15 years ago, progressed to studio yoga, and proceeded to become obsessed with everything yoga . Except, of course, the part where we’re supposed to give up coffee and wine. This is America after all, not India.

Back to yesterday. It’s summer in New England. That means it’s hot and humid. The teacher decided to crank the heat up to 95 degrees anyway, with the windows closed and over 50 people in the room. She kept it cranking for the entire hour and a half long class. She also didn’t  ease us into the practice. We started class standing up and didn’t lower down on our mats for over an hour. Could it be she was taking some kind of post-partum hormonal rage out on us?

Hot Yoga

Drink plenty of water. Bring a clothe. Take a break. Make sure teacher isn’t taking post-partum hormonal rage out on class (kidding!).

Mid-way through class, feeling like I was going to pass out, puke or both, I left the studio for a few moments to rejuvenate and guzzle water in the air-conditioned lobby. Toward the end of class, my friend announced, “I’m done,” and waited for me in the lobby.  It wasn’t just us. Several people simply rolled up their mats and left. The heat was that brutal.

Going out for breakfast after class was out of the question. Not when we were dripping with sweat, our clothes stuck to us, hair soaked and sticking up every which way. Later that day, the mild headache I’d developed from the heat turned full-blown, kind of a yoga hangover. I texted my friend, I have a headache from that class, WTF! She replied, I put a cool clothe on my forehead. It helped mine go away.

Despite the intense heat, the sweat, the not being able to keep up with the class, the headaches, we decided after Labor Day we’re hitting a studio together once a week. We used to be such studio rats,  going to three and four classes a week, taking spontaneous day trips to NYC to visit  various yoga centers.

While we don’t need or want that level of intensity anymore, we do need each other. We need to keep having yoga adventures together, after-yoga breakfasts and lunches, bash-the-yoga teacher powwow sessions. We need to get our butts kicked in a power class so we can remember that we’re alive.

It’s these precious, everyday, laugh-about-and-lament-them moments that make up a life. Without them, we’re just going through the motions.

What’s one of your favorite make-up-a-life moments?

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Love Letter to My Soul Friend

We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.

One of my closest and dearest friends is a woman more than 20 years my senior. When I was drinking out of a bottle (and I don’t mean Boones Farm) and wearing diapers, she was already married with children. It was unlikely our paths would cross in friendship.

But they did. As fate would have it, 16 years ago we were simultaneously taking a yoga class and psychic development class together. From the moment we met, it felt like we’d been best friends forever.

She is one of the few people I can be completely myself around. No matter what I say or do, she doesn’t judge me. In fact, often it’s the opposite; she understands and cheers me on. What a rare gift this is in a world filled with people who feel it’s their duty to judge.

Our conversations, which take place everywhere from bookstores to coffee shops to her kitchen island, tend towards deep. We contemplate topics like the direction yoga is going in this country (downhill, we feel), and why the government is trying to kill us by allowing GMOs and other questionable ingredients in our food sources.

She is a friend who, when she answers her phone, I can launch immediately into a topic without offering a greeting, and she responds without missing a beat. We talk most mornings while I make the long commute to work, and sometimes on my way home, often as she’s walking her beloved rescue dog.

We’ve had amazing adventures together. Ten years ago we completed a year-long yoga teacher training, during which we’d take spontaneous day trips to places like New York City to try out a yoga class. Once we signed up for a meditation class , befriended the instructor, and two years later were invited to Boston to visit her guru who was visiting from India. What a wild ride that was.

My friend is a woman who does what she wants, says what she wants, who thinks for herself, and doesn’t apologize for who she is – the good, bad, and ugly. When I was younger, I would sometimes find her outspokenness and honesty borderline brash. Now that I’m entering mid-life, I understand the intolerance for bullshit, the need for authenticity, and the value of being direct, even if it rubs someone the wrong way. Truth often does.

I’ve always valued our friendship, but the past year and a half my friend has become my role model, and in many ways my hero. Watching her lovingly and tirelessly care for her husband as he died of cancer was nothing short of breathtaking. Seeing the way she’s moved forward without him, navigating the new territory of widowhood with grace, dignity, and courage has inspired me. She has shown me that it is possible to keep living even after great trauma, pain, and loss.

When one hears the term “soul mate” it usually conjures up images of the perfect romantic partner. I think soul mates can also be great friends, people who were put in your life to share a unique journey with you. It’s all the better when that person is older and wiser than you, with life experience to share.

To that end, my friend is my soul mate, a true gift from God. I look forward to our continued adventures together.