I have noticed that while this winter season seems to be a bit relentless, we have been privileged to more than the usual sunlight and it seems to have kept my spirits up. Winter is difficult for me. I love the heat, which for a Bikram student, is very helpful. But for a resident of Buffalo, NY, being a lover of heat can make the winter months, at times, unbearable. I have also noticed that by keeping up with my yoga practice, especially on the days I do not have the desire to go, I have fared these recent winter months with much more ease.
I have been practicing Bikram's yoga series for over eleven years. I remember feeling so good those first months, thinking that I could weather anything with this yoga in my life. I almost dared difficulty to step into my life, so I could prove my own personal strength that I realized through this yoga series. And plenty of challenges and struggles have shown up throughout the years. When they did, I can reassure you that I did not necessarily greet them with welcome or excitement. Often, I was annoyed for the hassle of having to deal with these things that I wished would silently go away and so that I could get on with my life. I have used my yoga practice to work through these difficulties, big and small. During these times I always come away from my practice feeling clearer than I was when I stepped in the hot room.
I had one of these moments just this past weekend. I was moving along at a nice pace. I was easily catching up on things from being away the week before and setting myself up for a solid slide into March. Then, Friday happened. A big blow out of nowhere hit and I had to put everything aside to deal with the situation.
As the weekend went on, I found myself continuing to be absorbed in the upset from Friday and the efforts to resolve the inconveniences that came from it. I had to force myself to take class Saturday night, which helped to settle me into a good nights' sleep. But, I woke Sunday, feeling like crap. And this time, I chose not to go to yoga. I managed to do a few things around the house, to make myself feel like I had accomplished something worthy for the day, but I went to bed still feeling out of sorts. As I lay in bed, the struggle to go to yoga or not the following day kept me from falling asleep. Back and forth all night long.
I had committed myself to 100 days of yoga. Yoga every day for the next 100 days. Day one was to start this past Monday morning. When I woke Monday morning, the thought of having to step into that hot room on this day felt intolerable to me. If fact I stayed in bed longer than usual, trying to somehow think of a legitimate reason not to go. Maybe I was getting sick and needed a day of rest. Maybe I had some paperwork to do that was time sensitive. Maybe the kids had a morning orthodontist appointment that I had forgotten about. I probably should stay home and catch up on laundry. I am really hungry. There is no way I can complete a full class without eating breakfast first. At this point I dozed off. I imagine I exhausted myself trying to come up with excuses. When I awoke, I immediately looked over at the clock. It read 8:30. Without a thought, I got up, brushed my teeth, put on clothes, grabbed a yoga top and shorts and left for yoga.
To my surprise, I had an amazing class. The first of the 100 days. The decision to get into the room and practice yoga on this particular day proved to me how far I have come in terms of breaking though some old patterns that I could clearly see were limiting me and left me to remember and strive for doing things that would support what I wanted for myself out of life. While I spent some time fighting with myself Monday morning about whether I should go to class or not, it came down to making the decision to simply go. To do something I knew, without a doubt, would benefit me. This one class completely changed the direction for me.
I believe it's easy for most of us to make things more complicated than they are. I look back to Monday morning and have to laugh a little at myself for getting so worked up about a situation I had little control over and how I let that lead the way into believing that I had to create further disharmony for myself.
I remember so clearly a conversation with a friend of mine, who is in the field of social work. We were talking about how it is human nature to want stay with something that may not be good for us because the familiarity provides comfort to us. She used an interesting analogy. She told me how in her experience as a social worker, children, abused by a parent, would often rather stay with that parent than to get taken from their home, something they know, and be put into a better situation. At first, I found this hard to believe. It seemed pretty clear to me that if you were being hurt, the first thing you would want would be to be separated and put into the hands of someone more able to care for you.
As I thought about how this idea applied to my life, I realized that there are plenty of things I choose to do simply because they are familiar to me and not necessarily the best for me.
As I am about to step into the sixth class of my 100 days, my commitment to myself is to be willing to be uncomfortable at times if it means that It's leading me towards my better health and well being emotionally, mentally and physically.
New students will often share their apprehensions about starting their Bikram Yoga practice. Continuing students often share what discomforts they have in the room.
What inspires me the most are the conversations from both, new and continuing students, sharing how good they feel after class and the things that have changed in their practice and in their life as a result of their efforts with their yoga practice. Eleven year later, I am still in awe at the tremendous benefits available through this yoga practice.
I look forward to seeing where these next 100 days take me and I look forward to sharing them with you in our shared connection through our yoga practice in the hot room.