I started doing Bikram yoga about a year ago now… and when I began going, in the back of my mind, I was hoping it wasn’t going to turn out like every other exercise regime I had started and quickly fizzle out. Not pertaining to all areas of my life, but I’m notorious for joining a gym and going for ohhhh twice and then completely forgetting about it. I had started a few hatha yoga classes when Anders was a baby… you know.. trying to be all super mom and getting out of the house in the evening when hubbs got home… but… like anything, I’d quit going. I REALLY wanted to love Bikram. I really wanted it to be my new thing. It was like I was vowing to myself that if I was gonna start going, then I was gonna take it seriously and make a 100% effort and not wuss out and quit going. I mean, I think even my husband was waiting for me to quit going one day….. But when you’re payin’ close to a hundy a month to have unlimited classes, it’s kind of stupid to just quit going… and even stupider when you’re so gung ho that you go ahead and buy the $900 annual unlimited membership as sort of a motivation to keep your butt in that hot room. But I could tell after my very first class that I had indeed….found my new thing. Now, I’m not gonna lie and say that I go every single day and I’m all hard core yogi material or anything. But I do try to maintain at least a 3 to 4 times a week attendance. There’s just something about it. And I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Everyone is in that room for the same reason, yet we are all in there for different reasons. Same reason being we want to do something good for our bodies…. different being, maybe someone is there because they want to heal their chronic back pain. Maybe someone is there because they are a runner and it’s one of their “off” days and they want to keep their joints healthy in between pounding miles on pavement. And as I sit here and really think about why it is that I go, I can’t really pin point it.
When I am in that hot room, I push myself past crazy limits that I never even knew I had. I’ve always been very athletic and very agile. And when I find something I’m not 100% perfect at, then I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get perfect at it. And the thing with Bikram yoga is, you can push yourself as hard as you want to, but if you aren’t doing the poses correctly, then you’re not getting an ounce of benefit. I give 110% in each and every class. Even on days when I feel like dog doo doo, and swear I’m not gonna push myself too hard, I always end up forgetting that I wasn’t going to push myself, and go on ahead and push myself. It’s a challenge for me. It’s more of a challenge for me to NOT push myself to the point of hurting myself. It really is. There’s nothing more gratifying than holding Dandayamana-Dhanurasana ~ standing bow pose for the full hold time (which, I believe to be a full minute, but never really know).. I’ve only been able to hang in standing bow in the first set the entire hold time I think maybe a dozen times total. I usually fall out because I get distracted. Bikram yoga is very tough, yet very beneficial for people like me….. people with ADD. Or ADHD… or AADD… or whatever you wanna call it. I have a hard time focusing on one task. Bikram has helped me in so many ways, but especially with my focus ability… or focus inability rather. I find that after a full year now of going regularly, my focus is way different. I’m able to sit here and type out this blog post without getting up 20 times to go put the wash in the dryer, or to hop over to my email to check and see if so and so answered me. But you seriously can’t pull off many of the poses unless you have steadfast, unbreakable concentration. What I find really fascinating is that in between the standing series and the floor series, you’ve got 120 seconds of flat-on-your-back, no moving, no fidgeting time and it is a CHALLENGE to not move, or not let your mind wander during those two minutes. Again, major improvement in that regard. Another thing about Bikram…. is that your skin loses all those nasty ingrown bumps and whatnot everywhere. You know how in the winter months, wearing jeans and long pants, and dry skin, you get those bumps on the back of your thighs? Yah, those go away when you do Bikram yoga regularly. Your complexion changes. I’m not as quick to anger. I find myself taking huge deep breaths, just out of no where. You spend an hour and a 1/2″ of pure breathing….. and I mean…. all dirty air gone breathing. In fact, you don’t even want to try doing hot yoga unless you can learn to breathe. Breathing is the only thing that keeps me on my mat and not jumping up and running out of the room in a panic. When I first started going, there were times when (during the floor series) I honestly thought I was going to jump up and run out like a weirdo!! I was millimeters away from getting up and leaving so many times. But I remember the first class I went to, the instructor, Micah, in a calm sweet kind tone said, “If you feel very panicked and feel like leaving, just remember to BREATHE.”….. The one itty bitty bit of advice that I will never forget.
I sit here and think back to when I first began. How self conscious I was of my body. How I was more worried about those around me than looking at myself in the mirror. It was uncomfortable for me to look at myself in the mirror at first. I hated who I was. An addict… a recovering alcoholic… a recovering addict… ewwww. Often times I sat there and thought, “Oh dear Lord, WHY am I here?”… “Why should I even try to better myself with exercise?” “I’ll never be good enough or do well enough” “I’m just a junkie addict and a loser mom and a loser wife..”… You start nailing an extremely difficult yoga pose a few times a week, all the while staring in your own eyes for 90 mins, and you begin to love yourself. And I’m not saying that yoga is the reason I love myself today….. God is. But yoga has really empowered me to believe in myself again. Long gone are the days of being the star middle blocker on my high school volleyball team… long gone are the days where I broke the USCoast Guard boot camp base record for the 2 mile run…. Those days are over man. I’m a mother of 2, I’m 35 years old now… I’ve put my body through hell and back. Punished the body that God gave me. By the skin of my teeth am I alive even. Our bodies only last a little while you know? And it’s true… the older we get, that’s when we start to think about it. We lollygag and frolick in our youth like no biggie… do drugs, drink heavily, party… drive drunk… what have you… never seeing the bigger picture that our bodies are the only bodies we have. There are the few out there that avoid all the stupidity smartly, but we can’t just trade our bodies in for a new one when the old one runs out. We must nurture them, and take care of them. They get us from point A to point B.
I don’t know what it was that made me want to sit down and write this page out. Maybe it’s because I didn’t go to yoga today, it’s my day off from going and I noticed how excited I am about getting to go tomorrow. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying the 30 day challenge. Going for 30 days straight. With kids, it’s a hard commitment (or at least that’s my excuse) My fear is that at the end, I’d be so burnt out that I’d never want to go back. And I really love Bikram yoga. Don’t want it to be like a good song you hear on the radio. You hear it, you love it, so you buy the cd or the mp3 file and play it incessantly for a week and then you can’t stomach it when you hear it after awhile, changing the channel quickly. It is my hope that I never fall out of love with yoga. If you are considering trying it….. just go for it. Don’t be afraid that you’re gonna suck at it. From what I gather, it’s like the mysterious exercise. The one everyone knows about but never wants to try. And why?? Because of the heat? “Ohhh I don’t like the heat, I don’t think I could stand the heat? Ohhhh the heat…” wahhhh… Get your butt in there. You will be surprised at what it does not only to your body, but to your outlook on yourself, your outlook on LIFE!!! It’s a true motivator… It makes you want to be better. Do better. Eat better. Sleep better.
Through the Christmas rush with Mountain Girl Silver I wasn’t able to go for a month straight. Sure… I could’ve totally gone to the 8:15pm class… or the 6am class and be diligent about it. But stamping and processing orders took over my life for those 6 weeks. And boy howdy… not going sure started to affect me. I was irritable, wasn’t sleeping well, noticed my posture going downhill, short of breath just going up the stairs, bad appetite, BAD APPLE!!! Never again will I take a break from yoga that long. Because when I finally got back in the hot room, I was shocked at how much flexibility I had lost. I grew so frustrated during my first class back. Thought I was gonna DIE!! No bueno. But was equally surprised at how much quicker my flexibility came back. It wasn’t like I was starting out from the beginning like a year ago. Got right back into the groove.
So alls I’m saying is… give it a shot. I think you’re gonna find that you’re going to get a lot more out of Bikram yoga than you think you will. And there’s nothing to fear. After your first class you will be so proud of yourself, as you will feel like you just finished and completed the hardest workout you have ever done. No lie!!