When I'm practicing vinyasa, I feel as if I'm surrounded by flames. After a couple rounds of sun salutations, my heart beats faster and my skin feels hot to the touch.
At first the heat is motivating and seductive. Feeling a heat wave coming over me during practice energizes my body and gives me the boost to keep flowing. But there comes a point in the flow when I can't surf the waves. It gets too hot, too sweaty and slippery.
I get a craving; the kind that you get when it's so hot that you can't even move your fingers without breaking a sweat and you crawl over to the fridge for a brief moment of cool, crisp, electrifying breath of air.
That's when I tune into the breath - prana - life force. I try to breathe through the fire within to keep flowing without slipping.
It's the hardest thing.
This is my definition of a vinyasa practice. You might experience the flames in your quads when you're sitting in your imaginary chair (ooh-don't-wanna-do-it-katasana) or in your core when you lift your legs up to sky in boat pose.
But the cue is always the same: breathe through the fire. Fire is transformative. It turns matter into a completely different form, giving it a new shape, smell and coloring it with characteristics fresh to the eye. I, too transform through my vinyasa practice.
I thought it was just yoga...maybe it's the fire within that moves me.
"Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood. We are a rhythm machine, that's what we are."
- Mickey Hart