I started practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2007. When I moved back to St. Louis in 2008 I only practiced sporadically. In January 2009, I dealt with a lung infection that put me in the ER twice, and caused me to crack my rib from excessive coughing. I had also just ended a relationship with the man I thought I was going to marry, and had lost my first grandparent. A few months prior, my parents went through a divorce that left me and my siblings devasted. I was so disappointed I couldn’t exercise to ease the stress because of my broken rib.
I called the studio and spoke with an instructor about when I could come back and start practicing again. She said there were modifications I could make to any posture that was difficult for me. So I started back up immediately. It took me almost 4 months to be able to do every sit up every time. There were many classes that I struggled though, laying on the floor with tears dripping down my face.
I had spent the better part of the past 9 months being so strong for everyone else, I forgot about how I was feeling.
I already have a tendency towards anxiety, and sometimes it felt as if I was having a mini panic attack in class. Since then, there has been NOTHING in my personal life that has made me feel that anxious or scared. It’s almost as if I confront the anxiety in the room, so that I don’t have to deal with it outside the room. Some classes I was on top of the world, and others I just wanted to sink into the floor and disappear. To make matters worse, I hated my body because of my previous lack of exercise. What a challenge it was for me to stare at myself and learn to love the way I look in each posture. This is something I still struggle with on occasion, but wow what an improvement!
Bikram yoga has been like therapy to me. I learned the very important lesson (which is why I love Tuesdays With Morrie) to allow yourself to feel however it is that you’re feeling.
Accept it, have compassion on yourself, and let it go. That is an invaluable lesson that has carried over into my personal life. I think I am more in tune with my mind than most of the people around me, and I have only achieved that through my practice. It has changed my approach to almost everything in life. I am now more aware when I try to take on other people’s problems and emotions; and although I’m not perfect, I don’t get myself as involved as I used to. This is something that has saved me a considerable amount of stress and anxiety.
I have been on my soapbox many many times when speaking to friends and acquaintances about Bikram Yoga, and so many people turn up their nose or close their minds because it’s “too hot” or “they won’t let you wipe your sweat” or (my personal favorite) “Oh my gosh they lock you in the room!”
These responses make me feel like laughing sometimes. I try to explain that yoga means discipline, and it is the discipline that you are practicing for those 90 minutes. It is a practice that many people feel is sacred to them, and that should be respected when you step into the studio. I try to explain that the reason you are encouraged to stay in the room (besides disrupting someone else’s practice) is because the instructors, and many of the students, know your mind is capable of overcoming whatever negativity that your body is telling you- and you CAN stay in that room. What a powerful message! Incredible to feel that every time you walk into that room, no matter who the instructor is, he/she believes in you and knows you have the power to get through the next 90 minutes.
You just have to believe it yourself. And soon you’ll find yourself sending those struggling students positive energy thinking “You can do this, just keep breathing, you’ll make it!”
I could go on and on forever. But this practice has meant so much to me, and the encouragement from the instructors has been overwhelming. If you all don’t know by now, I appreciate everything you have done and will continue to do for me when I walk in that room each time.
With all the appreciation in the world,