Finding the Physical. Part One: Simplicity
When I sat down in my seat on the plane in Dallas headed for home, I was suddenly overwhelmed with being physically tired. Despite the fatigue, the weekend was one of my favorite since starting with Spartan Race and for a multitude of reasons, most of them physical. As I write the words just tumble out… effortlessly and with relief of being let out.
On this blog, Leaving a Path, I rarely talk about the logistics of Spartan Races my employer because it’s my job and this is not about my job, but this weekend my job and “me” intersected quite nicely. There were also some co-workers and other people who made this weekend special and I’ll mention them as well. I’m writing this in a few parts because I don’t want to overwhelm you or myself with a manifesto. I have so many words in my about my time in Malibu and I want to honor them.
I’ll begin with Thursday. Thursday’s arrival to SoCal and the drive to the venue Calamigos Ranch brought back memories of Temecula, my first obstacle race and my first Spartan Race. I ran with Joe DeSena in Temecula, who is not only the founder of Spartan Race but my boss as well. He ran Temecula with an axe, because, well, that’s what Joe does. It was the first time I’d ever met him. On the course that day we made small talk, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed taking on the tough course with the other runners. On that course and in that race is where my Spartan beginnings were really born. I talked about it in my Racing the Spartan post.
In Malibu after a business meeting and while driving with a group to the hotel, we found a local Bikram Yoga studio about a mile away and last minute Joe and I decided to drop into the 6:30PM class. Fresh off of a day of travels and knowing I had two long days on the course in front of me I jumped at the chance to do the class.
Bikram, or “Hot Yoga” is a cleansing experience. Twenty-seven poses are executed over 90 minutes and the heat of the room requires disciplined breathing through the poses. In a room with Joe and about ten strangers we moved from pose to pose hearing each other breathe and focusing on points on the floor, the wall, the mirror keeping our bodies in constant work mode. Compression of joints and pressure points followed by the release new blood flushing through like an internal cleanse. The heat of the room can cause dizziness or lightheadedness so breath control is critical and the mind is forced to focus on very few and very physical things – and that focus is powerful. Holding a pose, drawing breath, releasing breath and returning to center. Then letting it all go in savasana.
After the 90 minute session and while laying quietly in savasana in the dark I was aware of my entire body all at once and retreated into a blank state and just focused on feeling the physicality of my body. My breathing was easy and with my heels touching, my feet were open to the sides my palms up at my side. The air moving in and out of my nose felt warm but alive. I have found that for me, those moments are fleeting and only come to me when I allow my mind to become perfectly quiet and simplified.
Rinsing off in the studio shower several minutes later I felt completely connected. Like a line had been drawn from the top of my head down my center and into my feet and I suddenly realized how misaligned I had been lately. Joe and I then headed back to the hotel on foot on the dark stretch of highway. Talking shop, talking training, nothing earth-shattering just a pleasant conversation that reminded me of our first run in Temecula when it was just about running. It was simple then. It felt simple again.