Today, I am beginning a 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge, during which I will practice hot yoga at my local studio every day for 30 days straight.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I have certainly not always been one to love working out or going to the gym. I ran track and cross country in high school, but once I went to college, I only continued to run when I felt like it to keep in shape and clear my head when it needed clearing.
So it might seem a little bit surprising that I would return day after day to a 100+ degree room to practice yoga for 90 minutes of open-eyed, intense muscle-working, moving meditation.
But I love my yoga class. I love it in the same relentless (and what I once believed to be senseless) way that my husband loves going to the gym or working out with any piece of “equipment” he can find at home. (The ingenuity he displays when needing to get a workout in is so funny and resourceful. It reminds me consistently that my excuses are invalid.) I truly have always wanted to be healthy and in great shape, and to make sure I treat my body like the capable and ingenious tool that it is. We only have one body and one lifetime, and I think both should be used to do stunning, difficult and meaningful things. And once I started living with my husband and witnessing his daily health/exercise habits, I knew I couldn’t sit on the couch an extra hour and a half a day and feel good about that activity.
So, with a push from my own conscience and family members with whom I shared my desire to practice yoga at my local studio, I wandered into Bikram Yoga North Shore.
Hot yoga has taught me how to properly sweat – from every pore and from places I didn’t even realize I could sweat – and what it looks and feels like to release toxins from the body.
It’s taught me how to breathe, and I mean really breathe, from the full depth of my lungs, and to use that breath to focus, calm my heart rate and push further in each posture. This skill of breath, by the way, transcends yoga class and has helped me calm myself in other scenarios outside the studio. For example, getting my tattoo was so easy when I focused on my breath. It came in handy when I swam (cage-less!) with sharks recently too 😉
There’s a quote in my notebook by Mary Oliver that reads: “Listen – Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” And I love that quote as it relates to yoga, and to finding and taking deeper breaths and just doing more with your life. I was scared to walk into that first yoga class, but my lifestyle has been so enriched because of it.
I’ve gotten way stronger, both mentally and physically. And I’ve gotten lighter, both literally and figuratively. I’m a bit more careful about what foods I consume now, knowing that food is used to energize my body, and much more concerned with the amount of water I drink throughout each day.
“Listen – Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
And so, a 30-day challenge is my next step. I’m not sure that I’ve ever done anything (productive) for 30 days in a row, so I know this will be a big freaking deal if I accomplish it.
Do you want to challenge yourself to doing 30 days of something good for you? Let me know. We can support each other via uplifting social media comments or whine together or just send each other positive, persistent vibes from afar 🙂 One of my yoga teachers said something during a class that I repeat to myself often now: “Your practice only demands that you show up.” So it doesn’t matter if my mood is crap, if I feel tired or weak, or that I might be unmotivated on any particular day. I just have to show up.
We all just have to show up.
P.S. – there’s a woman in my class who recently did 120 days of Bikram yoga in a row. She’s a nurse and sometimes works night shifts and then comes straight to 9 a.m. class after her shift, on zero sleep.
So yeah. No excuses. ❤
I’ll likely update the world pretty incessantly on how I’m doing throughout this challenge – what parts are difficult, whether I’m improving in my practice, all about my mental, physical and emotional state – and share any relevant before and after details when (whispers: *if*) I complete it.
Because TMI is kinda my thing.