I looked down at the front of my t-shirt and saw the map of Italy soaked across my chest!
I just finished a very difficult and challenging yoga practice and I am dripping sweat!
My wife thinks its gross and stinky but recognizes it comes with the territory. My children, on the other hand, usually stay about five feet back when I come home after class…they want nothing to do with me. I always joke with them to give me a hug!
Honestly….I want nothing to do with me either, I reek!! But the feeling of exhaustion is amazing and the sense of accomplishment is exhilarating.
Exercise of any kind is not only a test of one’s physical capabilities but also mental strength. Marathoners run long distances and experience a mental barrier called “the wall” in the latter part of their run. The body is beyond exhaustion and the mind starts saying that its had enough. People who train for marathons know that they not only must work on conditioning their bodies but also their minds to overcome mental obstacles that are very much part of any kind of physical activity.
For me, the amount of sweat I create during my spin or yoga practice is a direct measure of the amount of effort I put into my experience. In my mind, sweat plus effort equals accomplishment.
I think I am one of the few people in my yoga class that sweats buckets and its not even one of those hot yoga places like Bikram. However, I am a big guy…and the yoga postures require a high level of muscularity and strength as well as focus and balance. To not sweat during yoga would be like not even showing up for class.
Obviously, the physical rewards are huge. This is the main reason why I started my yoga and spinning practice almost four years ago. However, the high degree of mental discipline and the physical sense of accomplishment is an even bigger reward…because these days, this seems to be the only place I can find it. The only other place I experience a similar reward is in my relationships with my wife and children (except there is no sweat!). I can now appreciate the feeling a manual-laborer must feel after a day of work. That good feeling of exhaustion knowing that you worked really hard towards something must be unbelievable. Not that I plan on going into the construction business any time soon…but I am definitely searching for that same kind of reward.
In the meantime, every time I mount the saddle or go on the mat, I know I am trying my absolute best and that the effects of my effort will only be positive. I do this willingly. I don’t do it for recognition, I don’t do it for financial gain. I do it for me…and at the end of the day, that is what matters most. Being the best me I can be…inside and out…is what I am striving for.