After missing two weeks of Bikram classes (well, really only 2 days since I only go once a week), I finally got a chance to go this past Saturday. The problem with missing classes is that every time I think I’ve taken a step forward, I end up taking 2 steps back. This 1 step forward 2 steps back is driving me absolutely crazy. Believe me, I try not to miss any classes but sometimes, life gets in the way.
I’m one of those odd balls who welcomes challenges. I think it has to do with having something to focus on, something other than watching the many TV shows I’m addicted to. So that’s why I’m killing myself with Bikram yoga, and that’s why two Sundays ago on June 3rd, I participated in Ride for Heart even though the last time I actually went bike riding was 6 years ago in 2006. Of course the main reason I chose to participate wasn’t necessarily for the challenge, but to show support for all the people in my life who have been affected by heart disease in one way or another.
When I first signed up for the 25km ride, hubby thought I was nuts. Others might think that 25kms is short and easy but considering I had not been on a bike for the past 6 years, I thought I’d better be safe than sorry. Plus, my 10 year-old nephew, 5 year-old niece and 2 year-old nephew came along for the ride and I’m not sure that anything more than 25kms was doable with them in tow.
Hubby and my mom kept telling me that I needed to practice. So I did. I went bike riding with my mom twice in preparation for the ride – the first time for 30 minutes and the second time for 10 minutes. That was practice enough for me. The bike ride, however, turned out to be easier than I had expected. At no point during the bike ride did I question what I was doing or if I was going to make it to the end or feel the need to collapse.
When I went to Bikram however, I was only in my fourth pose when I started wishing that I was near the end instead of the beginning. I felt like collapsing and I questioned why I keep coming back. Temptations of leaving the room filled my head throughout the entire practice. It was truly one tough battle just trying to convince myself to stay. But I did end up staying to the very end.
I know this might be hard to believe, but a 3-hour 25km bike ride is peanuts compared to 90 minutes in Bikram’s hot torture chamber. I’d rather do the ride again then have to go back to Bikram. But yet, I go back anyway, week after week. Really, I have no one to blame for the exhaustion and soreness I feel after every Bikram class but myself.
A friend sent me a link to a blog post titled, “Are you a Bikram yoga addict?” a couple of weeks ago as food for thought for my practice.
I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the entire post. First, I could totally see truth in everything that was listed. Second, I’m so far from it I actually do the exact opposite of what an addict does.
So I thought it might be appropriate to post what it’s like to be a Bikram newbie.
- You bring 2 bottles of iced water to class.
- You can’t wait until the first four poses are done so you can take your first water break.
- You take large gulps of water in between every posture.
- You use words like ‘brutal’, ‘torturous’, ‘killer’ and ‘painful’ to describe Bikram yoga.
- You miss Moksha yoga.
- You swear under your breath every time you lose balance or can’t hold your pose anymore.
- Instead of feeling good after your practice you feel completely drained and unable to move or do anything else.
- You need to eat a chocolate – just one small piece – to get your energy back after your practice.
- You have a love-hate relationship with Bikram yoga.
- You dread your next class already even though it’s one week away.
Now you’re probably wondering why I even torture myself with Bikram yoga. Well, I believe in the health benefits it claims to have. I believe that this initial phase of “newbieness” will pass and that I will eventually start to feel pleasure instead of pain after each and every practice.
I do this because I refuse to give up. Every pose is a challenge that I have to overcome. The feelings of mastering a pose is truly indescribable. I do this because it teaches me patience. And it teaches me to push myself but also to know what my limits are so I don’t get hurt.
I do this because it’s good for me. I do this because I have to lose 8 lbs. so I can fit into my skirt.
When I went to Moksha yesterday, the teacher told us to set our intention for our practice. What do we want out of it?
I thought this was such a wonderful idea. But it caught me by surprise. What did I want from it? To get through the class alive in one piece and not fall flat on my face? Well yes, that might be what I wanted, but all kidding aside, setting our intention for our practice has a much deeper purpose.
During the practice, I directed my energy to my intention, which, for that particular moment, was to experience a calmness that my hectic days seem to lack. When the class ended and I was in my favourite pose, savasana, I felt a renewed energy that I haven’t felt, even though I have been practicing weekly for the past month and a half.
I wonder if it had anything to do with setting an intention for the practice and focusing my energy on it? Or if it was simply because I went to a different studio?
In any case, I believe that intentions can go a long way. The mind is powerful and how and what we think can affect our days and essentially, our entire life. Setting an intention doesn’t have to be confined to yoga classes.
So whether it’s about getting through a hot yoga class without falling, or getting through rush hour traffic without irritation, or getting through the day with contagious enthusiasm, I’m going to consciously remember to set my intention for the day. What do I want out of my day? How do I envision it to be?
And perhaps the amazing energy I felt during savasana could be extended beyond the Moksha studio.
Okay, this is really really hard. I’m so lightheaded I think I’m going to faint. Why do I insist on torturing myself like this? I can’t hold my pose anymore. I’m going to fall. You can do it Astrid. Focus. Breathe.
Then, just as I get a grip on the situation, the teacher and pretty much everyone else around me move into the “toe stand” pose (pictured below taken from Bikram Yoga East York) and here I am thinking, “Seriously? You want me to do that? How in the world…?”
Many hot classes and failed attempts after, I finally did it. With sweat dripping profusely, I balanced myself on my right toes. The feeling of satisfaction, indescribable by words, was worth every torturous effort.
The more I practice the easier it gets. I guess it’s just like anything else – playing sports, painting, singing, etc. I was introduced to hot yoga a couple of years ago but it was only recently that I started going weekly. My goal is to make this a part of my weekly routine and hopefully overtime, it will become a part of my daily activities.
The one thing that hot yoga has taught me is perseverance along with patience and focus. When I feel challenged, whether during practice, at home or at work, all I have to do is:
Focus. Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Focus. Breathe.
And I keep moving.
A Moksha instructor once mentioned that no matter how many years you’ve been practicing or teaching yoga, you can still have off days. This is what keeps me going during my bad days. Knowing that even the experienced aren’t always perfect.
But what really motivates me to go these days? My pink non-slip lululemon yoga towel that I got as a Christmas gift from Edgar. I love love love this towel! I get excited just thinking about using it.
Now, before you move on to another blog, I will leave you with this:
The divine in me recognizes and honours the divine in you.