I am a totally lenient person when it comes to most of what I do. I eat healthy enough during the week that if I happen to crave junk food and an artificially flavored cocktail heavily laced with sugar on Saturday, I have zero issue and zero guilt about indulging. Accept, enjoy, move on. No problem whatsoever.
Same with my bouts of procrastination: Sucks, sure, but I never wallow in it. Accept, forgive, move on. If I have a shit day, I have a shit day and the next day I’ll be good again. Accept, forgive, move on.
But when it comes to Bikram Yoga, I cannot accept, forgive, move on. Bikram Yoga is a very important and very complicated thing in my life. There is nothing that inspires me more, helps me more: Nothing is better for me than doing Bikram Yoga. Yet it brings out my issues like a cabinet file in the psych ward. Take a look into my inner crazy.
I am not good at balance when it comes to Bikram. Because I love it so much, I want to go every day. But I tend to go 6 days in a row and then there is one day where I can’t go. That in itself would be fine, but another day rolls around and I think “fuck it, one more day without a class then” This would be fine too, technically. I think it’s fine, healthy even, to think ‘fuck it’ every now and again. But when it comes to Bikram, my ‘fuck it’ spins out of control, and mindfuckery begins.
Here’s the thing. I can’t not-practice without feeling guilty about it. No matter what I do I feel like I am forsaking the single greatest thing I have ever done for my life, my body and my head. Reason has me calculate all the benefits I’ve reaped because of it and just goes, pointing at all the evidence: “Dude, you should TOTALLY do that for yourself.” And that judgmental pointy finger is directed at me when I don’t practice.
“Why are you not doing yoga?” “You should be doing yoga.” “You could have been doing yoga now.” I hear that in the back of my mind.
I always feel a form of uneasiness when I let more than two days pass without going to a class. That uneasiness only grows as time goes by. After two weeks it becomes almost palpable, like a lump in my stomach. Simultaneously, that uneasiness and guilt makes me feel shitty about myself. That drives me further away from my practice. The further away from my practice the worse I feel and the harder it becomes to get back into the hot room. While my yoga mat and yoga gear are always neatly parked in our hallway. Aall I have to do is grab ‘em and go. But I somehow don’t.
The further away I get from my practice, the worse it gets, in all areas. Slowly, but steadily. My energy drops. My happy mood drops. I get out of sync with my body, become head-only again. I become more stressed, less loving, more short with people. I become convinced that all the weight I lost through Bikram Yoga has magically reappeared on me. The body I love becomes something I eye suspiciously in the mirror.
And as I write this down, telling you this, all I can think is “How the hell can I let it get that far?” I bet you’re thinking that too. Truth is, I really don’t know. Wish I did, but I’m too ‘in it’. The process is so gradual I don’t notice it while it’s happening, just when it has happened. I can’t explain why I feel desperate for it and cannot go at the same time. I drive myself crazy with it. With Bikram Yoga, I face my residual all-or-nothing (ending up at nothing) attitude full-force.
So after months of this on-again-off-again bullshit, with a big ass peak in off-again during December and the first weeks of January, I did manage to get out of it.
The energy I got from giving a workshop brought me back to feeling like my usual self, and that pushed me back into my usual practice. To drive that point home of me wanting to go back into my practice for real, I took a 06:30 class again: They used to be my favorite classes, but I hadn’t done one in two months.
The next day, I woke up completely sore. Pleasantly so, but pretty forceful. And then I did something I wasn’t able to do before without a guilt-trip: I decided not to go. I didn’t debate all day, I didn’t mindfuck myself into not going, I just decided I was going to give my body some rest and do another class the next day. It worked.
I took another 06:30 class on Wednesday. Thursday night I did a class too, but I skipped Friday again when I woke up feeling like my abdominal muscles were overstretched. No guilt, no problem. This weekend, I did one class on both Saturday and Sunday.
This way, I am slowly reconnecting with my yoga practice and enjoying it immensely: How I feel doing yoga, how I feel after, what I get out of it,why I love it so much in the first place. I am easing into it. I don’t want to crash and burn anymore. I am so done with that.
The plan is to go back to doing a yoga class every day — that I can. I totally want to go back to the simpler days where I did yoga every day, sweating my ass off, calloused hipbones (from Floor Bow) and spine (from everything on the floor), energy and clarity for days, without making myself go haywire.
But it doesn’t have to be straight away. I have decided it’s okay for that process to take weeks, months, whatever. The only goal for now is to have a healthy yoga practice.
Speaking of healthy yoga practice…
Hi. Meet Triangle Pose. I
am was totally Triangle Pose’s bitch. This postures owns my ass has owned my ass for almost 1,5 years.
It was my dreaded posture. I couldn’t remain upright because my legs would always give out from under me. It did not get better for a really long time. Every class, I struggled and fell out. Struggled and fell out. Over and over again. I eventually became convinced I was always going to be suffering through and hating on this posture.
But then my friend Ben “Yoga Boy” Schultz fixed it for me. See, Ben “Yoga Boy” Schultz is a 35-year old Australian who has been doing Bikram Yoga for 2 years, we became friends through yoga. He is a very constant factor in my practice with his kick ass focus, his jokes and no-nonsense attitude. I adore him. He will be prominently featured in my second Yoga e-book, and he totally fixed my Triangle Pose debacle.
Basically what happened is that I made Ben go to a 09:30 AM class with me, while Ben MUCH prefers to go at a later hour*. After a Triangle pose kicked my ass once again during a class, I got so frustrated with it, I sat down and waited it out. Now, I am strong enough to do every posture, this was just a bratty move on my part of being fed up with trying. Ben and I had lunch after and he grinned at me over his coffee and said: “So you make me come this early and then you sit down and watch me do the pose. When I see you sit down during Triangle, I have a half a mind of going “We didn’t come here all this way to watch me do Triangle Pose now, did we?”
I laughed, but the phrase stuck. Over the weeks that followed when I took class, whenever Triangle Pose came up, I heard his teasing voice in the back of my head going “Now we didn’t come all this way just to watch me do Triangle, did we?”
And I would grin, think “No” and do Triangle. I would do the pose, and be able to finish it. It got me out of the “oh shit here it comes” and “let it be over” attitude, and instead made me focus on something funny I was thinking of in that moment. It became our inside joke.
And now? I love that posture. It’s still hard and I have to focus and work at it, but I can finally do it.
And that reminds me that this is the case for my yoga practice as a whole too. It can be hard, I will always have to focus and devote myself to it, but I can do it. Especially when there is a positive approach and some jokes involved.
*Ben calls the 06:30 AM the Stupid Class. :’)