December 26: Typical day: Describe a typical day in your life. What do you think would surprise most people about your ordinary day? How do you cherish and appreciate the everyday?
As you likely know, I am at a yoga retreat in Thailand. So my “typical day” this week looks a bit different than what my days look like in New York or London — but when I am “home,” I am unlikely to have any kind of routine.
Which has, admittedly, been undoing me for the last year or so.
Here, however, I have a strict schedule, which is challenging. And yoga is hard.
It has been particularly difficult for me — in ways I expected, and perhaps didn’t expect — to put myself at the mercy of a schedule someone else has laid out for me. And to give my body over to the practice. To submit to breath work, and routines, and physical activity outside of my comfort zone.
This isn’t how we do it in Manhattan. This isn’t how it’s done in Mayfair.
6.00a – wake up. Listen to the sounds of my Swiss German roommate rustling below me. She speaks very little English, and I pretend that I speak less German than I do. Swiss German, though, is a challenge.
(I spend the next 45 minutes catching up on emails. I admit that freely.)
7.00a – swallow one of the peanut butter packets I smuggled in from the States. We are not permitted to eat before 11.00a, and I am a first-thing-in-the-morning breakfast eater. I am downright hostile if I am not fed immediately. Also, I dutifully consume the day’s first handful of pills.
7.30a – opening session. Prana; breathwork. The first hour is focused entirely on the breath. The first few days, this was torture. How do I keep my mind from wandering. How can I keep from focusing on whether my extended family is having an okay Christmas despite some devastating news; whether my brother is upset that his gift was sent to my house instead of his; whether my friends are fine in their various situations; whether I even want answers to questions I am not asking.
Approx 8.30a – Asana begins. The first few days, this was instructor-led. Now, it is on our own. Primary; secondary; tertiary (?). Do you do yoga? Do you know the names of this shit in sanskrit? I’ve done yoga — fairly seriously — for a long time. But I am struggling and do not know how to ask for help.
11.00-ish – WHEN DOES IT END?? How do I manage my expectations when I cannot schedule things; when my day is approximated and not divided into blocks? When can I eat my big breakfast of foods that I cannot guarantee that I will like; that I cannot order from Seamless Web; that will not necessarily satiate me?? Why is it that I can only have brunch and not a proper breakfast and lunch like I prefer?
Why am I not in control?
Noon – 4.00p – Free time. This means I post the next day’s #Reverb12 prompt, and I then I take a walk, and I sit in the sun, and I try to sort myself out. On two of the days, I got massages. On another day, I went out snorkeling. I then remembered why I hadn’t been snorkeling since 2005.
I’m glad diving and snorkeling is good for you. I, HOWEVER, DO NOT LIKE IT despite many attempts.
4.00p – Q&A; anatomy lecture. Why are we doing what we are doing and what is going on inside our bodies when we do it? By this point, I am sticky with bug spray and sun cream and trying to stay awake.
5.00p – restorative practice.
6.00p – dinner, which ends with me casing the “dessert table,” insofar as these things can be called “desserts,” begging sweet Jesus for just a touch of white sugar.
9.00p – I am asleep before my Swiss German roommate comes back from singing kirtan around the fire, or whatever it is people do at night.
That’s my day.
I am Trying to Sort Things Out. I am trying to put myself at the mercy of others; trying to accept the things I cannot control — which I wasn’t seeming to grasp on my own, so I came here to try it in a very literal way.
And finally, one aspect of yoga is touch. A yogi must submit to the breath; to the pose; to the touch of another human being if the teacher comes to adjust the position. All of those things are hard for me. I use my routines and control to keep people away.
This is a challenge. And these typical days are scary (in fact, I messaged a friend just this morning and said: If I ever again say tell you that I’m going to a yoga retreat, please beat me).
But these are truly extraordinary days.