When I started Bikram yoga, there were more days that I dreaded going to class than when I looked forward to it. My stomach would be in knots and I would become very nervous. I found every excuse not to go.
Over the years, of course, as I practiced more and more, I began to look forward to the class, most days feeling incomplete without it. Not that the class was any easier, as I get my butt kicked 5 years later just as much, if not more. It’s just that my thoughts about Bikram had changed. My understanding of the yoga has changed.
Despite the heat and humidity and the tough classes, over the years I’ve found the comfort in whatever discomfort Bikram yoga had in store for me. Even the gruelling advanced class was a familiar ‘pain’ I willingly and openly endured.
Any challenge that came my way in the hot room, I would welcome because I knew what was waiting for me on other side of that door, after those 90 minutes are over.
The sweet surrender of savasana, my worries melted away.
But what happens when you don’t know what’s on the other side of something new?
That was a question on my mind as I took my 4th ashtanga class.
The first 3 classes were great, perhaps they were the ‘honeymoon’ phase of that practice. Today, my 4th, it was the first time (in the series) I became frustrated, lost, and at one point, near tears.
I was the only sweaty body in the class, which led me to believe I was struggling more than I thought. Deep down I knew I was sweating more because of my Bikram practice. But in this unfamiliar territory, I became self-conscious, embarrassed, unsure. While I can comfortably wear tiny shorts and a tiny top in the hot room, I could not find the ease in the more conservative clothes I wore. My tights were stuck and matted to my body, doubling my discomfort since I am so used to having little barrier to my sweat.
I so desperately prayed the class would end soon, grateful that there were no mirrors to highlight my frustration. It felt as if I was learning a new side of my body that I never knew before and wished I could give it back.
But I stayed, knowing that giving up was not an option. A yoga room is a yoga room, and staying in them is a discipline deeply instilled in me by my Bikram practice. I stayed because I knew I’d never get past the unfamiliar if I walked away.
And so, once again, just like 5 years ago, my stomach is in knots and I’m nervous before each class. While I had thought I had finally faced my demons in those Bikram mirrors, there seem to be more lurking behind those ashtanga doors. And I will stay, because I am a yogi and I have to face what I fear most.
Next class, I may just have to wear less and see where that takes me 😉
Life begins at the end of our comfort zone, right?