I think of yoga as a workout, it is how I justify eating all the snacks (and yes, I know we don't actually need to justify snacks, but unless you are going to buy me new pants - justify) but I know that for most people yoga has some deeper meaning.
For the longest time, when I was told (asked?) to set an intention at the beginning of class, it was always, "let's just get through this." Then, when Boyfriend's mom got sick, the idea of dedicating my practice became a habit. Occasionally it was for someone else, sometimes it was for me.
Today, I had an epiphany in class. Maybe it was because I was the sweatiest I had ever been. So sweaty, I thought I would dissolve into a swampy pile of yoga sweat goo. I just realized that this is as close to prayer I will ever get.
I have never been religious, and it has always felt pretty douchey to pray when things get bad, when I have never once prayed when things are good. Plus, if there is a man upstairs, he is probably actually a lady and thusly hates hypocrites. Lady Gods cannot abide by hypocrites.
When I dedicate a practice to someone it feels like an opportunity to try to take some of their pain or sadness or confusion away. As I sweat and strain I reach out into the universe, find one person and say, "I'm already working hard, give me some of your weariness because I can take it."
It feels stupidly wonderful (and very cliche-y) to have a workout with bonus substance. To not only feel like I've earned that extra beer but that I have stepped out of me and all of my goofy first world problems and given an hour and fifteen minutes of my breath and self to someone else.
Being the dick pragmatist I have always been, thoughts and breath come up short when what people need are medicine and cures, but as I have gotten older and life has gotten more real I have realized that thoughts (and prayers, if that is what you are cooking) are pretty valuable too.
I have about a month of yoga left in my membership before I move into other things and I try to find other ways to devote myself to others but until then, I will celebrate these opportunities to sweat it out for others.
And please, someone remind Boyfriend when I come home just smelling like a hockey locker room that sometimes, I do this for him.