I haven’t practiced yoga in several years. It’s been torture. I think about it all the time, like a missing lover. I romanticized about getting back into that room and fixing all the stuff that’s still wrong with me. I became an evangelizing, abstaining yogi.
By the time my friend Lora Rosenbaum opened her new studio on the west side of Ann Arbor, I was seriously considering doing a 60 day challenge—taking 60 classes in 60 days.
Lora was working her butt off every time I came by to see the studio- painting, directing crews and overseeing the construction. I’m not sure of the exact process used to finish the floors but they’re stunning and I’m pretty sure we can time travel through them. Wouldn’t surprise me, actually. I’ve had pretty cosmic experiences with Bikram yoga, and Lora is one of the most compassionate, strong, positive accomplished women I know-- and I know strong women.
She founded the first Bikram yoga studio in Ann Arbor about 13 years ago, the one right across the street from where my husband works, but recently sold it and opened a this one across town. One day I stopped by, and she and I sat together in the huge window seat facing the sidewalk. We talked about endings and beginnings, about how quickly things change. How grateful and amazed we are to just be alive and walking the earth. Tears welled up in my eyes, spilling out onto the dusty construction floor. Tears of joy and wonder mixed with Lora’s hard work and nearly finished dream.The place felt alive too; vibrating and humming.
The grand opening on January 18th started with a free class. It was packed. We stood shoulder to shoulder and cheered when Lora came in the room to lead us. She looked so radiant. Strong.
Class was fantastic even though I was terrified to go and literally had to force myself. I was amazed at how much my body remembers this practice. It was easy. Well at least in yoga room it was easy. After, I was reminded that I have muscles running up the fronts of my hips and even more deep under my sternum.
After discovering Bikram in 2008, I practiced at least three times a week, often times five. It transformed me absolutely, literally transformed my suffering. I learned to focus on myself, focus on what was best for myself and the kids instead of obsessing about things that I have no control over. What can I control? My breath. My actions in this moment. My thoughts.
I lost 30 pounds, started a newspaper and found my place in a community of revolutionaries. I tried to work things out with my husband, forgave us both and moved on, sometimes with and sometimes without him.
By 2012 my practiced slowed to a complete stopped and my health deteriorated. I gained all that weight back and my chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) escalated. If you’ve ever met me in real life, you’ve maybe wondered if there was something a little off. Yep. There is and I’m hoping that taking 60 Bikram yoga classes in 60 days will fix me up good.
Can I do it? To be honest I have no idea, but I’ll be 50 freaking years old in July- 50!- and want to heal my crazy, heal my chronic pain, heal my knees, be comfortable in my own damn skin and truly truly release the things that no longer serve me. Somehow I think doing yoga in that hot freaking room every single day will do that. So, on Wednesday January 22 I went back to Lora’s new studio.
Each Bikram yoga class is exactly the same. The room, the heat, the poses are the same and the instruction is the same for every single class but this one was SO hard, not at all easy like Lora’s inaugural class. I had to sit down during several poses just to catch my breath and stop the room from spinning. That’s the beauty of this practice. Everything is the same except for me. Each time I’m different. And this time I wanted to barf or run out of the room, but I didn’t. I stayed and sweated and prayed and thought about being thin, strong and happy.
One down, 59 to go.