Friday, January 24, 2014

60 classes in 60 days: Bikram Yoga

Starting tomorrow, I will be publishing a daily blog, "60 Bikram Yoga Classes in 60 Days." This is the launch; some background on how I came to practice Bikram Yoga. And predictably, it's ugly.

I hope you'll join me at some point at the new, magnificent  Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor West studio in Ann Arbor that Lora Rosenbaum has created. Everything about the space is gorgeous; from the elegant floors to the stunning original artwork, all the way up to the ceiling where the carefully crafted light covers don't blind you while in savasana. Or however that's spelled.

To be honest, I don't know if I can do 60 classes in 60 days, but I'm going to give it my English Bulldog Determination and write down what happens while I do. I pray it helps other folks.


60 days of Bikram Yoga

In 2008 my husband had an affair. It definitely was one of the top ten traumatic events I’ve experienced. I came home and knew there had been another woman in my house. When I confronted my husband he said, "don't burn my guitars," and left for work.

So I tried to run him over with the car, threw everything of his I could lay my hands on in the front yard and then booked a ticket to stay with my sister in Key West. For six weeks. I told him, “When I come back, you will have moved out,” and left.

Once I arrived in Key West I looked at my little sister and said, “What kind of woman do I want to be? Cause now’s the time.”

I knew I didn’t want to put myself in the victim role, although no one would have blamed me. But I wanted to be free of the pain so badly I was willing, quite honestly, to do anything.

Even try Bikram Yoga.

When Dora told me about Bikram I thought she was crazy. She acted like it was a great thing, doing an hour and a half of yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees. She showed me some of the poses while I chain smoked cigarettes and envisioned my husband and this unknown woman together.

I was vaguely aware that I needed to somehow get my anxiety down.  I shook uncontrollably, non-stop. I was obsessed with their affair. It coiled around me like a life-sucking python and squeezed the sanity, the dignity from me. I couldn’t eat, sleep, drive, work or stop crying. I felt sorry for the folks sitting next to me on the plane ride to Miami because I had cried the entire three and half hour flight, and loud.

So I went to this class with my sister. First, I  asked the instructors if they knew we were on a tropical island. They had heaters on and running in the little studio on the corner of Truman Ave and White Street. Heaters. It was very, very hot.

I also went to the bathroom once to throw up, not because of the heat (although it can absolutely make you feel nauseous) but just because that was what I did about twice a day. Vomit and weep into the toilet and wonder if this might actually be the end of me.

It wasn’t the end of me. It was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Bikram is where I create my own healing crisis. Where I put myself in a 105 degree room and focus and work for 90 minutes and balance on one leg for an eternity while pulling the other leg straight behind me and listen to a stream of information from the teacher and connect my body with my mind and say over and over again, “thank you thank you,” even though I feel like I’m going to die.

But I don't die. I keep breathing and working and praying and sweating out toxins and pain and hate and soon my skin is glistening and my clothes are soaking wet and my body is listening to my mind and I am strong and I am calm all at the same time. And I do this TO MYSELF. I put myself into this insane environment. I honestly think if I weren't in such trauma already, there's no way I would even try it.

In this way I control how and when I release my emotion, how I work out my pain. It's not my cheating husband or my dying dog or anything external pushing me to fix myself. I do it. To myself.

I say, Self. Today we’re going to yoga. And my Self says, Aw hell no. No way. I don’t have the time and I haven’t been hydrating and besides I didn’t get enough sleep and my knees hurt and my heart is broken and I just want to lay in bed and cry while the kids are gone and I need to bla bla bla

But in the end, the Me that’s determined to take back my life wins, and I drive my excuse-making sad little self to the yoga studio and I look right at the building next door where my husband met the woman of his dreams and works there with her now in infidelity bliss and I sometimes cry and I sometimes get very angry but I always park and climb the stairs to the ridiculously hot studio. Once I’m there lying on the mat getting used to the heat and stretching out my hips and back, I remember why I do this.

Because here, I do extraordinary things. I learn to work hard and recover quickly. I work hard again and then stand still and breath. I learn to control my mind and my body with my breath. I focus.

And I remember that I can do the impossible.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is really powerful, it's so good.The description of your obsession with the affair as a "life-sucking python" that "squeezed the sanity and dignity" from you is especially brilliant. Good for you for grabbing your dignity back and with a vengeance!