It has been exactly 63 days of bikram yoga for me. The days have come and gone and I have learned a lot from this challenge.
Back in August, I set a goal of completing a 30-day challenge (with my 30th class landing on my 30th birthday), but my good friend Kelly inspired me to do a 60-day challenge. I had already done a 30-day, so… why not? Without hesitations, I made a decision and I committed.
60 days. 60 classes. 90 hours. 1560 postures. 105 degrees AT LEAST. Pounds of sweat and loads of laundry later, I completed my 60th class. Didn’t think I’d see the day! I have learned more about myself during this challenge than I have in my lifetime. This may sound like an exaggeration, but l will explain. For 60 days, I stayed committed not only to yoga, but to myself. Each day, I became more and more aware of my body, my breath, my feelings and my mind. Everyday, for 60 days, all I did was show up.
I remember Day 10 being so rough that I sat out most of the postures. The room was incredibly hot, even experienced practitioners and instructors were sitting out. However, from days 11 to days 36 things were great; my practice shifted, physically. My injuries had improved significantly (both hips and right rotator cuff). I couldn’t believe how flexible I had become! Classes became tolerable and I was doing all 26 postures (and 2 breathing exercises). I was thriving from the energy this yoga had brought me. I was on a yoga high!
Then came Week 6. Days 37 to 39 to be exact. I started to feel nauseaus during class. My throat felt gross, like I was sick, and sometimes it felt like I had a partial blockage. I found it difficult to breathe and the heat become too much. I sat out of postures and felt stuck! Suddenly that yoga high I was experiencing, became a big wall… it felt like the Great Wall of China, to be exact. Yup, I hit a wall. I was frustrated and could not understand why this was happening.
After talking to some instructors, they all agreed on one thing: the middle of a 60-day challenge is always the hardest. I could tell that my body was transforming, but at the same time, I was suffering mentally and emotionally.
On Day 40, the nausea was gone and I (finally) had a strong class again. After class, I had described my nausea and difficulty to the instructor, and she asked me, “Are you having trouble communicating something or to someone?” I left class thinking nothing of it.
For a few days, my classes flourished again. Then came days 43 and 44. These two days brought so much emotion and on top of all that my injuries that improved so much, began to resurface — not good! Classes were rough, I felt like crap, I wanted to give up and I cried after both classes. I did not know why I was crying but I knew I felt overwhelmed with emotion. I just let it happen and kept pushing through.
The night of day 44, I was asked a simple, yet effective question, “Are you ok? What’s really going on?” During that conversation, I broke down and just spilled everything going on in my life. Now, I won’t go into the details of that conversation, but reflecting back on that moment, I knew I felt a release — remember the communicating question? I became vulnerable, and I was okay with that because that “breakdown” became my breakthrough.
This moment made me realize why I do this crazy thing called hot yoga.
It wasn’t until after day 51 that my classes started to become strong again. On day 56, I was able to do toe stand/padangustasana for the first time and the pain to my injuries had once again disappeared; it was an amazing feeling! On days 57 to 60 I did not even notice the heat, even though I was sweating buckets. Classes just flew by and I felt wonderful.
During my challenge I did many doubles. I did a couple back-to-back doubles and I had a lot of difficult classes. Today, however, I feel strong — mentally, emotionally and physically. Yoga brings up a lot of stuff. A lot of unreconciled stuff and it is very, very liberating.
A few things I learned along the way…
1. Set your intention – It might have been something as small as to stay in the room for the entire 90 minutes, or to complete a double or to minimize water intake in class. Sometimes my intention was to try each posture to the full expression, sometimes it was remembering to just breathe. Whatever it was, I made sure I had set intentions before every class.
2. Let go of expectations – Each class will be different. Some days will be strong, others will knock the wind out of you. It’s okay. It’s okay to fall out of postures. Just remember to get back up and try again. Live in the moment.
3. Trust the process – Changes don’t happen overnight. It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect. The class will be whatever it will be, just trust it.
4. The postures you hate to do, is the one you need the most – I almost always sat out of toe stand, triangle, camel and rabbit poses. One day, I set my intention to at least try these postures. When I began doing these postures, I felt so much better and the pain to my injured areas started to improve significantly and my practice itself, shifted.
5. Doubles (two classes in one day) is not THAT bad – I experienced a lot of anxiety before completing my first double, but found out that it was actually a lot easier to do the second time around. It gave me energy and the opportunity to work on postures I had difficulty with.
I cannot imagine my life without yoga. Everything I have learned during my yoga journey, I can apply to life. Set your intentions every day. Be present. Be aware. Falling out of a posture (or making mistakes) is not a bad thing, it’s a learning tool. Everyday is different. Everyday brings new challenges and new opportunities for growth. Some days will be better than others, all you have to do is trust the process and… just show up.