Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife. ~ The Bare Necessities, The Jungle Book
I usually get up and get dressed every morning, except for Saturdays. On Saturday mornings, I get up and get undressed.
This is the morning of my hot yoga practice, and it’s a bare one. The room is fairly bare. There’s a big Om on the wall, but that’s all. I am almost bare, my pants are cropped and so is my top. Even the instructor’s mat is bare. It lies empty while he teaches from all corners of the room.
It’s just too hot for any sort of cover. One step into the room, and the heat has already stripped away whatever I may have on. By the time I unroll my mat, I’ve no choice but to be there bare.
On this particular Saturday, it is overcast and quiet and, somehow, at just one day past Halloween, it is already a true November. There’s a chill in the air and the wind is blowing, baring the trees of their leaves that have only recently begun to change. At this early hour, downtown has yet to be dressed, too, and I easily find parking in the empty streets.
I grab my mat from the seat of my car. I am traveling light this morning, with my wallet and towel and phone in the same case as my mat, carrying so much less than what I bring to my evening practices. I walk the short way alongside the shops, down the brick walk and through an alley to a flight of stairs. I pass the restaurant that’s tucked at the bottom and then cross a little street. From there, I turn toward the river before ducking down another alley which takes me right to the studio.
As I walk along, I can see around me all that is exposed: the sidewalks and the streets, even the dumpsters and the parking lot. And I can’t help but think how much I love this part of the city. I love its brick walks, its roads, its steps, its alleys, its views of the water. Nothing hides here, and I see lots of beauty in the bareness of all that’s revealed at this early hour.
I don’t know why my connection to this place runs so deep, but when I’m here, I feel like nothing’s missing. And that’s fine for Saturday mornings when I’m traveling light, fresh from the shower, my hair still wet, without much makeup and without much else, really. And with not many others around and all that I don’t have with me at the moment, I am surprised at how abundant everything appears and how dear to me all of it is.
I enter the studio and check in at the front desk. Apparently, I’m mistaken in thinking I have all that I need, because I’ve left my water bottle in the car. So I buy some water, stow my jacket and overclothes in a cubby, and open the door to the practice room. The heat comes at me from the earlier class, and I move inside and let it wrap around me. I lay out my mat, have a seat and put up my hair.
It’s quiet and still. The room starts to fill with other yogis who have traveled light like me. And then the instructor appears, and one of the yogis asks about his missing watch. She wants to know why his wrist is bare.
Why do I need to know what time it is? he jokes. We’ll just practice for a long time!
We’re going to be here until it’s lunch, I said, making my own joke that without the little pink watch he usually wears, we’d practice three times as long.
But the 90-minute class actually goes by in what seems like less than an hour. We start in the usual manner, with some inhales and exhales and reaches and folds. We say our three Oms. And then we move through the Sun A’s and then through the Sun B’s. And then we land in Warrior II, and I finally feel like I’m here.
It takes all this moving around for me to finally appear. This is when I start to get hot. This is when I feel immersed, when the heat in me matches the heat in the studio. It’s when I start to sweat, and when my mind tells me, I’m in it now. And it’s as if I’m walking along the brick sidewalks again, going down the steps and through the alleys and toward the water.
Here I feel connected. Here I feel like nothing’s missing. Here there’s no need for much else.
And when the practice is over, I lie in Savasana, or final resting pose, with my hair wetter than when I earlier stepped out of the shower. I wipe away whatever makeup’s left from under my eyes, and I feel the sweat travel from the top of my bare belly, over my sides, around my back and onto the mat.
I am uncovered now, and somehow the heat has made this happen. Really, that’s why there’s no need for a watch, because the practice has melted me in its own time, taking with it whatever I never needed, anyway.
I roll to the right and rise to a seated position, placing my hands at my heart, readying myself with the others for the closing three Oms.
And as I sit here with all that I don’t have with me at the moment, I am again surprised at how abundant everything appears and how dear to me all of it is. I am grateful for the heat, for the ability to move on my mat, for the room, for the practice and the people.
Nothing hides here, either, and for the second time in the same morning, I get to see all the beauty in the bareness that’s been revealed.