As I keep writing about it, and it is giving me strength, I thought this morning I ought to devote a post to Bikram Yoga.
It was one of those God-winks, where you keep seeing references to the same thing over and over. Like suddenly seeing pregnant women when one of your circle tells you they are pregnant. It was in 2 magazines in a week, it popped up on an Internet search, then was on TV for good measure. Imagine my surprise, and joy, when I found there was a studio 5 minutes from home?
After doing some reading, I realised I would have to buy some new kit, I needed something small, as you get hot and the people that tend to struggle are those who come to class in long leggings and t-shirts. So I brought myself a triathlon cossie from speedo, wearing swimming costumes for most of my life it doesn’t bother me, but I know most women would gulp at the thought. You also need a yoga mat, a thin one as you stand on it class and need to balance safely. You also need towels. Plural. One to lie on, one for the shower. I actually use 2 in class, as I sweat like, um, someone who sweats a lot. By the time we’ve finished the first breathing exercise, I am dribbling, by the time we have our only official water break 3 poses in, I am soaked.
You also need to ensure your body is prepared too, there is a fine line of being hydrated and not needing a wee half way through, you need to make sure you have eaten, but your are not full so you don’t feel queasy with your head on your knees.
There are 26 poses in total, and every day I get better and some and have to practice harder at others. My balancing and general posture are improving, but some days I can do balancing stick, other days I can’t, I struggle with camel at the moment, because when I fell over, putting pressure on that part of the knee hurts, so I do the set up to the posture, but not all of it. My standing head to knee pose is getting better, my spine strengthening series is getting easier and I am noticing the results all over my body. I come out the class feeling lifted, awakened, clean on the inside and stronger through all my muscles.
Although I was looking for yoga, Bikram Yoga found me, it is at once the hardest thing I do daily, but also the best thing I do daily. You can’t be vain in the hot room – I see myself in the mirror getting pinker, my hair being pushed into all angles around my head, dripping with sweat, but the relief and joy at the end when you finish the final breathing, and I sink gratefully into Child’s Pose to say thank you for getting me through the class, it makes all the hardship at the moment worthwhile.
It gives me 90 minutes of me time; 90 minutes where I have to concentrate on my breathing, every single breath, otherwise I could keel over; 90 minutes where my mind is free, only counting seconds as I hold the postures, or screaming in intensity as I push myself a bit further than I did yesterday. I love that my body is getting stronger, I feel calmer, my bum is lifting, I am losing weight gently and slowly and I love comparing notes with the other ladies in the class on how we were doing, how we are doing and so on.
It isn’t easy finding 2 hours out of a day to go to class, but when you are in class you make a commitment to yourself, the other students and the teacher that you will stay in the room for the full 90 minutes, you show up with nothing to declare but your ‘self’, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde. No one can do this for you, the teacher talks you through the poses, occasionally will demonstrate them, will help correct a hand hold, but ultimately you are teaching your body by listening and following instructions. You have to concentrate, bringing your own strength, balance, flexibility, mind and how hard you *want* to work to class. By pushing myself this hard for 90 minutes daily, it reminds me that I can do anything.
I love it.