Today, I can cross of #14 on my 101 Things list. I have done 63 consecutive days of Bikram Yoga. This is 94.5 hours of yoga; 5,670 minutes. I have gone at 6 a.m. before work, 8:45 in the evening, after Saturday afternoon beers, and when I just freakin’ didn’t want to go. Here’s what I learned:
1. Do something that challenges you. The Bikram challenge was on my list because I didn’t think I could do it. I also craved the sense of a high-five, caught the ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter, buzzer shot, walk-off home run (yes, I did just get all three major sports into one sentence: boom.) kind of feeling. While work sometimes provides the accomplishment of a win, this is something much more seldom in adulthood. So I did it, because I wanted to have a set goal, with a definable win. This could be something different for everyone, but for your personal self-confidence and understanding of your capabilities, find something that you can say challenged you, and you conquered.
2. Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. I had to convince myself that because I said I could do this challenge, I would. I don’t ever want to think that I’m not capable of doing something for an hour and a half. And in class, many of the postures were mind over matter. If I saw myself moving into a posture, I could. And if I thought my balance was off, or too tired, it turned out I was. The mind controls what your body will do, and has more power than we think.
3. Find things to be grateful for, and embrace what you aren’t grateful for. There were days I was so hot, I wanted to throw my sweaty water bottle at the instructor. The heat was only a problem when I gave it attention. If it didn’t have my focus, and I continually listened to the instructions (and the instructors speak every moment of class to help you do this), then I was calm and present within the classroom. I had to embrace the heat, and understand that it not only detoxified my body, but loosened my muscles and made me more flexible. So I made sure to say thank you for it, and for that class, and my healthy state to be able to do it, each day. And when instructors opened the door, and I felt the fresh air and cool breeze, I gave an especially big thank you.
4. Make new friends, and share with the old. I got to know a few other studio regulars and instructors. Having classmates who share your experience to talk to made the classes more fun. All of my friends who knew about my challenge were incredibly supportive. They understood if I couldn’t go out because I had yoga, or could only do activities at a certain time because of class. They also didn’t mind me bringing my yoga mat with me EVERYWHERE. This mat has seen every neighborhood of New York. I even had one good friend from college who did around 7 or 8 classes with me early on (circa days 18-27) when I really didn’t know if I was going to last through this, and thought I would need a break at some point. She even came to some of the 6 a.m. classes. It was an unreal help to me, and really kept me going. Huge thanks.
5. Be patient. I finished this challenge by taking one day at a time. I accepted where my body was, and it was often different from day to day. But change does happen, and anything is really possible when you set the foundation, and become an active participant in your goal. Just give it time. By the end, you have a better insight into why things are the way they are, and what your role may be in the direction you are headed. Even with a little at a time, eventually, you reach a new place.
“Namaste” has a few translations, but a common one, and my favorite is: “From the light in me, to the light in you.” When you do something that challenges you, your find that light within yourself, and pass along the ability for others to do the same. I will keep up with Bikram exercise because I like it and there is more I want to accomplish with it. Do I feel the need to go consecutively? No mas. But I still am. I am unexpectedly going past 60 days, and don’t want to stop.