I’ve been doing Bikram Yoga for 4 years now but never done the 30 day challenge- it was Cintra who suggested I try it in July.
At first I thought it was going to be difficult to fit it into my daily schedule but serendipitously everything else in my life fell into place around my commitment to coming.
What I learnt:
The journey was immense! I mixed in a range of all the classes the studio has to offer- Bikram, Candlelit Bikram, intermediate Bikram, Vinyasa flow, Yoga Nidra, Yogasana, and Restorative.
In the first week I felt a massive opening up- a lot of emotion and even anger came out. That will be the Yogasana then! Partly because of all the hip openers, where we store a lot of our anger, but also in all the classes I also I felt a lot of frustration because of the old ‘I’m not good at yoga’ voice becoming quite loud. Over time, and due to coming every day I eventually learnt to say ‘thanks, but no!’ to that chitta vritti (mind chatter), and am still learning to, because of course there is no such thing as being ‘good’ at yoga.
I talked to pretty much every one of the teachers during the 30 days, partly to keep me motivated and also because each teacher always had something unique to offer and insightful to say about the practice of yoga; their own journeys; and how I could adjust or improve my own practice.
Some days, just turning up was enough- I remember one class I felt raring to go, but then within about 20 minutes I felt a wave of utter exhaustion and my body was telling me to just lie down and soak up the energy in the room- so that’s what I did. This was the hardest/easiest class! Hardest because I had to get over the ego telling me I was being lazy, that lying down wasn’t ‘yoga’, but I knew I had to learn to tune in to what most teachers will say: that your body is your biggest teacher.
Cintra always says ‘Prayer is talking; meditation is listening.’, and although a script is followed in Bikram (and so it could be easy to tune out) it really served to stay listening to each word, each instruction, because each day something different happened in the postures and different parts of the dialogue ‘stood out’.
Also, intently listening to the teachers is something I like because not only does it keep you ‘in the room’ and focused, a lot of the teachers say funny or encouraging things, and if you are concentrating so hard on yourself in the mirror, or letting your mind wander, you miss these gems!
Lisa told me that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and it definitely did feel amazing to get to the 21 mark, and know that I was coming down the other side of the mountain.
Doing 30 days of yoga in a row, made me actually want to carry on for another 30 days! (This didn’t happen, and I definitely noticed the change in my mood and the feeling of lethargy by having a week off).
In the middle of my 30 days, the heating did stop working – but this was a lesson in itself; to accept the things I can’t control, to question ‘is this worth complaining about’ and also ‘is there another way to think about this?’. (The answers were no, and yes.)
Doing Bikram yoga without the heat actually worked on strengthening the muscles and showed me what I was capable of with and without heat.
I love that yoga is really popular- because it is so good for you; mind, body and soul. I hope that the ‘trend’ of self care and looking after your self and body doesn’t go away or fade out, because of the fact that yoga is an ancient science, and it really is for everyBODY.
Thank you to all the teachers and students who I’ve talked to on the 30 day challenge, and of course my lovely partner Dan, who has given me endless encouragement all the way through.