Mid way through my third hot yoga class I found myself deep in thought. I was thinking that hot yoga actually requires a little intestinal fortitude. Some of the poses, particularly the balancing ones, are not exactly easy …. and I found my self several times feeling quite relieved when the instructor instructed us to move on to the next pose.
It made me think about how intestinal fortitude helps us cope with adversity, especially when we’re able to do it cheerfully, rather than angrily.
Hot yoga is particularly challenging because of the heat aspect … 113 degrees is a temperature I would normally cope with using the assistance of a cold Corona or icy Margaritas … and I felt quite proud of myself!
But then deep in the recesses of my mind a nagging little voice piped in with, “it’s not intestinal fortitude, it’s insanity!”
“What?” I said.
“You heard me,” the voice replied.
It was sort of like that same voice that keeps telling you to do your homework when you’d rather be watching the latest episode of your favourite television show. You’re not really listening to it, but you can hear it, and it makes you want to beat up your little brother … not, of course, that you would ever really want to beat up your little brother … I hope!
At first the voice was almost inaudible, but then it kept getting louder and I found myself unable to ignore it. Perhaps the voice was being influenced by the book I’m reading. It’s called, Gobi Runner. It’s written by Stefan Danis, a Canadian, who ran the 6-day, 250 kilometer, Gobi Desert Run, through inhospitable terrain in plus 40 degree celsius temperatures. Quite often reading this book I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between marvelling at what it must take to complete such a race versus the insanity in even thinking about undertaking it.
I ran a marathon 12 years ago and I thought it took quite a lot of intestinal fortitude to train and run the race. I will never forget those 3 and 4 hour weekend runs in freezing cold and blowing snow. Some people thought I was nuts. Perhaps the line between intestinal fortitude and insanity is much narrower than I thought. Perhaps there are just varying degrees of insanity depending on your point of view.
Perhaps the difference between intestinal fortitude and insanity depends on your circumstances or your motivation. Did you put your self there willingly? Are you doing it to disprove a sense of inadequacy? Are you being adventurous? Does your motivation come from a place of self love or self hatred? All relevant questions.
The voice was clearly at odds with my rational mind that couldn’t help but think about Victor Frankl’s magnificent book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he documented his experience in surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII. All concentration camp survivors, I think, displayed incredible intestinal fortitude.
I think it’s okay to test yourself. Knowing you have a little intestinal fortitude can help you get through difficult times, and these are undoubtedly difficult times.
In any event, my mind was eventually drawn back into the yoga studio. It was time to have a drink and high five my yoga partner for another enjoyably awesome experience. The voice was gone, hopefully, never to return. But if it does, I’ll just remind it that I have lots of intestinal fortitude. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan 🙂
Have an awesome day!