hardest thing i’ve ever done.
okay i lied. i’m being dramatic. probably going to ethiopia by myself, getting off the airplane and realizing i was in africa by myself, not knowing a lick of amharic, had no way to communicate with home or the person picking me up, and absolutely terrified that i was working with child prostitutes, was the hardest thing i’ve ever done. but maybe the 100 day challenge was. who cares. BUT – both required lots of breath, lots of patience, and brought a whole new meaning to life. both were priceless.
i enjoy others comments about my yoga practice. ESPECIALLY when i started 100 days. some people say i’m crazy, others say i’m an addict, some say the heat is not healthy! some say this is a cult. a) yes i am crazy about yoga. b) yes! i’m addicted to being healthy, happy, and full of life. c) if this isn’t healthy, i’d probably be dead by now since i practice so much. i’m more alive than i was yesterday. d) maybe it is a cult, maybe it isn’t – so what – i’m healthier than i’ve ever been, make better choices than i ever have, i’m stronger (mentally, physically, and spiritually) than i ever have before. so – namaste 🙂
bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises completed in 90 minutes. a standing series followed by a floor series. led by the most FEARLESS leaders i’ve ever met by dialogue only. no “show and tell”. it is hot as hell in there – 105 degrees AT LEAST, and about 30-40% humidity. unless it’s a rainy day 🙂 I started my challenge on october 12, and i finished on january 21. because i am a full time student and i work full time, i missed 16 classes. therefore, i did 16 doubles. yes that’s right, 2 classes in one day. can you say THIRSTY!? but oh sooo juicy. also – i got sick while i was in the middle of my challenge. did i stop? NO! i took 2 classes with a fever!
i did a challenge in spring of 2011. 60 classes in 60 days. it was a love/hate kind of thing. this past fall, i decided to do another challenge because i was getting stressed about school, and thought i needed more yoga (don’t we all?!). so i said okay – i can’t do 60 again because that is just NUTZ, so i’m going to do 30. i’m a huge fan of bikram’s senior teacher, mary jarvis. i read on her website of the benefits of 100 days of yoga. at about day 20, i committed to 100 days. the stars aligned for me, becuase on my 100th day of yoga, mary jarvis came to our studio, bikram yoga raleigh, to do a master class and posture seminar. happy yogi.
it’s true. if you don’t focus on keeping your breath under control, you will probably have to sit down after half-moon. as someone who used to avidly go to the gym (about 5-6x/week for about 6 years), we were always told that the stronger we are the louder and forceful our breath is! ugh, so untrue. my best classes are those where my breath is the most quiet, controlled, and invigorating. it is SO amazing that you can truly learn how to calm your body, your mind, your spirit by slowing your breath. i wish i knew this the first time i took the MCAT! (medical school admission test). okay duh, everyone knows this. but it is practicing it, doing it, that makes it true for your body. at times when i felt like sitting down because the first set of triangle kicked my butt, i would truly focus on my breath…. sometimes i would have to stop myself from focusing too hard because then i would start thinking about how pressure at the top of my lung is more negative than the pressure of the bottom of my lung and that is why my lungs are inflated, and the blood in the capillaries flow faster at the bottom of the lung……… BUT DON’T THINK, JUST DO! regardless – it is true that prana is life force. because of this notion, i have gotten off my anxiety medication after i finished my 100 day challenge. the 100 days truly taught me how to breathe. i can’t do standing head to knee without breathing, and i can’t take my next exam, without breathing.
my intention of starting the challenge was to get back in focus with my intention for LIFE and give myself the gift of health every day by practicing yoga. every day my intention was different. some days my intention was to just get through the damn class! 3 classes out of my 100 days my intention was to not drink water. some days my intention was to focus on the set up. some days my intention was towards my dad who has MS and has difficulty walking. some days my intention was towards a good friend, who lost her son when he was 2 months old. my intention was towards him because he never got the chance to learn to walk and who struggled to breathe. my intention always started out with how grateful i am to just BE and BREATHE. what two things we sometimes take for granted. some days my intention was to be confident!
i hate yoga, but i love yoga
i hate yoga because it is so hard! and sometimes it hurts! and sometimes i just want to lay there like a beached whale! but i love yoga because it is challenging, because “pain kills the pain” as one of my teachers says, and because i don’t lay there like a beached whale – another teacher always says “if you can you must”. Yoga makes me do what i don’t want to do, but what is BEST for my body. sometimes we don’t always know best. instead of getting on the elliptical on my “down days” and hard core pumping iron on my “good days”, for 100 days i did the same 26 postures. some days were “down days” some were “good days”. but, i did the same 26 postures no matter what. another teacher, used to say (during half moon): “this is your body: it is breathing, it is moving, it is sweating, it is beautiful”. we are always beautiful in the hot room, because we are there. we are doing what is best for our bodies. no matter how many times i sat down, no matter how many times i had to drink water, no matter how many times i wanted to leave the room during my 100 days – i didn’t. the yoga carried me through.
the 100 days taught me that no matter how you feel, your body always needs the yoga. on days i absolutely didn’t want to go, and would probably pay the studio owner $100 to put a star on my “challenge calendar”, were the days i would cry in camel because it felt so amazing to just be. it taught me that the postures that hurt the worst are not the postures we should sit out of, but the postures our bodies need the most. it taught me that i can do everything i want to do as long as i put my mind to it. it taught me that i can accomplish all i want to in a day if i am determined. it taught me how to love myself inside out, bones to skin, from coccyx to the neck, from coccyx to the toes, with my happy, smiling face.
my 100 year challenge
after my 100 days, i decided to go to teacher training – eventually or in the NEAR future. i always knew i’d do this yoga forever, but i want to do it for 100 more YEARS. one of my teachers said one time, “you have to have happy, healthy feet so you can dance barefoot in the grass on your 120th birthday”… well that’s about 100 years from now for me, and i hope i am doing balancing stick or standing head to knee in the grass when i’m 120 years old. this yoga takes a lifetime. my challenge, and my yoga practice for life, is about the journey. not the destination. the best part of my 100 day challenge wasn’t finishing, but was looking back and reliving the journey of 100 days of struggle, holding camels for both sets, doing rabbit without the towel, having to sit down an entire class, encouragement from teachers, not drinking water during some classes, making break throughs in my postures, growing my spirit. the best part of my 100 year challenge will be my journey this yoga will take me on for the rest of my life.