Once upon a time I lived in three places at once. Well, not “lived” exactly: I bivouacked like a gypsy, camping out indoors, traveling with little more than my toothbrush, my dog, and my yoga mat. Under those circumstances. I needed my Bikram more than ever, so I practiced in three far-flung studios.
My practice during those days was the familiar amid the flux. The fact that the postures are always the same had always given me a feeling of ritual during class. And because I am easily injured, I had always taken comfort in that sameness. But what I learned as I circled from place to place was how deeply restful that sameness was. Notwithstanding the intrinsic difficulty of 26 postures in 90 minutes in an overheated room, there was nothing new or unfamiliar or not mine to cope with. In my floating Bikram bubble, I felt a sense of you-can-relax-now. I felt grateful for my practice.
The sameness of the class no matter where I went–no matter the different carpets and faces–revealed flux as temporary, and therefore smaller, and therefore easier. Something about the sameness showed me that life is transitory but practice is permanent, certain, a rock.
At one studio, I would show up every few months for maybe three consecutive days. No matter: The teachers always greeted me by name yet asked no difficult questions, such as, how are you? One aspect of Bikram yoga that distinguished it from others is that most teachers trouble to learn the students’ names when class begins. Know a name is useful and polite, after all. But it meant much more to me back then: Being without my children, my own bed, my favorite coffee cup, hearing my name made me feel I was not lost. My mat was my home away from home.