I have committed myself to doing a difficult thing. I didn’t want to say anything here until I had actually begun the thing because I suppose I needed a head start or something. Here goes, for accountability’s sake:
Today was Day 2 of my 30-Day Bikram yoga challenge.
Bikram yoga, for the uninitiated, is a 90-minute yoga class that takes place in a room heated to 105-degrees. There are 26 postures and two breathing exercises; you do everything twice. The room has mirrors at the front and side. Everyone basically wears slingshots and hotpants because within 60 seconds of practicing the yoga, you are positively drenched with sweat. To say something is “hard” is to make a qualitative, subjective statement, I realize. But Bikram yoga? S’hard.
If you’ve been reading this blog from way back, you know I used to be a real Bikram nut. Almost daily, you’d find me in the hot room. I once did 100 classes in 100 days straight just to prove I could do it. I also did it because there is nothing, nothing like the feeling you have when you finish a Bikram yoga class. Even the ones that almost kill you — especially those. And I believe that several of my surgeries went better because I was doing regular yoga. Who knows? It didn’t hurt.
So why did I stop? In the past eight years since I found Bikram yoga, I have ceased my practice twice.
The first time I stopped was because something really awful happened. It’s so awful that it’s hard to say it but I am so buoyed and encouraged by the past couple days’ post comments, I truly feel like I can do anything — and that nothing feels better than telling the truth.
The first time I stopped my practice was because my ostomy bag leaked in class.
Yep, I did hot yoga for a number years while I had my ostomy. (I talked about it a couple times including in this post.) It was a pain. I’d tape it up with athletic tape and the top of my shorts would come up over it and I got so I timed when I ate and when I practiced so that nothing would be, um, active during class.
But accidents happen. I was doing the spine series, which meant we were all on our respective bellies doing locust and cobra poses and things. Well, I had a leak. When I got up to flip around and do the next posture, I had leaked onto my towel and mat. It could have been so much worse. But it happened. I just quietly gathered my towel and held it against myself, grabbed my mat and gave the teacher a, “I’m okay, but I am leaving now” look — I still remember what teacher it was and where I was in the room — and I didn’t come back for a long time. Maybe a year?
It wasn’t just the leak. I was probably burned out, which means I was probably doing the yoga for the wrong reasons or something, I don’t know. But I was so tired of being afraid that my worst fear would come true that when it finally came true, I had an excuse to rest. I think that’s called “giving up” and you know what? Sometimes, we give up.
But not for good! I returned! I was once again sweaty and half-naked in public while I was living in NYC and it was good. But then everything got so sad and tumultuous with Yuri. I tried to practice when I got to D.C. but I just didn’t have it in me. This yoga is the best medicine for anything — heart, mind, head, body, all of it — but it takes commitment and determination. All I could commit or dedicate myself to in D.C. was trying to learn a new world and let go of Chicago. I’m thrilled I gave up on that one.
So why now? Because I miss myself.
I miss hanging out with the me that can stand on one leg in 105-degree heat as sweat pours from the top of her head down into her eyes. I miss seeing that girl in the mirror. I feel like I’ve been making choices lately that aren’t serving me at all: late nights, too much wine, stuff like that, and I feel bad and sad about that a lot lately. It’s gone on too long. Besides, my shoulder still hurts terribly bad and my knees, too. I’m a jalopy right now and Bikram yoga is a body shop. In 30 days, I’ll walk out of there looking and feeling like a Maserati. Trust me. I’ve done it before.
So, yes. Every day. Thirty days. I promise I will not write about yoga much. But I’m doing this. For me. And now there’s no turning back the cat’s officially outta the hot, sweaty, bag. Gross!
p.s. Is there a Bikram studio near you? Wanna do this with me?? Woah, that would be so cool!!! There could be prizes!