I have learned to never say never. So when I said I would never try Bikram yoga, of course you knew I would. I was in a place of needing self-care, and for some reason, trying Bikram seemed to be the next right thing to do. So I went with my friend who loves Bikram. I survived, and didn’t think it was as difficult or as horrible as I had anticipated.
Because I am cheap, and Chinese, I purchased the unlimited week pass because it was only $5 more than the drop-in class rate. And I went two more times the next 3 days to really get my money’s worth. I absolutely hated the second day. There was heat, there was humidity, there was yoga. Three of the things in life I hate the most. But I paid for it!
The third class wasn’t as awful, but let me be clear it was neither enjoyable nor fun. Mainly because there was heat, there was humidity, there was yoga. Again. Halfway through, I began to panic. Because I wasn’t allowed to leave the room. I had to stay in the stifling heat. Ohmygod how many more poses are there to go? Ohmygod what if I run out of water before we end? Ohmygod what if I pass out now? Ohmygod I am stuck in here and I can’t get out and I may just die and THAT would be embarrassing.
As the perky instructor implores us to focus only on ourselves and our practice and our breath, I am freaking the fuck out. But I implore myself to breathe. To settle into the heat and humidity that is engulfing me, without letting it suffocate me. I try to focus on this goal every minute, renewing it with each new minute. I try to live in each moment to get to the end. I try to stay in the discomfort.
And I notice I am doing more than survive. I know I could have just laid down in Shavasana for the rest of the class or for a break. But I continued to do my best with each pose, despite my panic, despite my dread, despite the discomfort. I didn’t have to. But it was my instinct. To not just stay in the discomfort, but to do my best within the discomfort. If I showed up, if I was already there, I may as well make the most of it, I may as well kick ass, I may as well show Discomfort who’s boss. (That would be me.)
And I know this is why I tried Bikram. Three times. Because it reminds me that if I choose to show up in life, really show up, really step up and be vulnerable and authentic and open; really show up and focus only on myself on the mat, in the mirror, in life; then I need to continue doing the hard work of really staying in the discomfort. I need to continue the hard work by giving my all, truly being vulnerable and authentic and open. I need to continue the hard work by doing the best I can, regardless of how much I hurt or sweat or cry.
I’m reminded I can survive discomfort. I’m reminded I can do more than just survive, I kick ass. I’m reminded I can thrive within discomfort. I’m reminded I wilt in the heat and I can end my week of unlimited classes with a good bargain and a good lesson.