Tonight I did Bikram hot yoga for the first time in about 4 years. I’m doing a bit of a yoga body challenge for the next 4 weeks and figured a hot yoga once a week could be fun (Fun?).

I’d built myself up all day and was pretty happy to be going. Days go as days go and I had just about missed my bus to get there on time. Convinced myself that obviously I wasn’t meant to make it. I can go another time. Don’t want to rush these things and hey, maybe I wasn’t quite fit enough for Bikram yoga yet anyway…

Wouldn’t you know it, the bus was late, just like me. Thanks universe. I made the bus. I myriad of excuses started to form in my mind about all the reasons why I probably shouldn’t be going, but, alas, I beat away all the doubt and twinkled my toes in to yoga.

As I enter, I actually get quite excited. It’s a bit fresh in the wind outside and the nice heated room is cosy warm! I’m 5 minutes early (good one universe) and soak up the dark and warm relaxed vibes in shavasana before class begins. This is going to be great.

Class starts, and much to my disappointment, dull light becomes a brightened room and we’re up! I was getting comfy down there! 10 minutes in to the session, the heat really starts to get to me. Am I willingly working out in 40 degree heat? My shoulders and neck start rallying against having my arms raised above my head for such long periods of time, and with that comes the odd dizzy spell. Hrmm…

Having done this kind of class a couple of times years ago, I know to drop back to shavasana when you need that break. All I’m doing is regaining some composure enough to get straight back up in to some kind of warriors something looking pose, so I drop myself in to child’s pose and very quickly am I reminded by the instructor to get on my back. OK dad.

Here I am laying down in a class of 30, because I can’t do it. I gaze around at person after person holding their poses and sighing with relief at the few seconds release before the next one starts. And here I am, because I can’t do it.

I get back up. I manage maybe 4 more poses before the lightheaded mess gets me again and down I go. I feel deflated. Disappointed. I’d envisioned this beautiful and flowing practice and here I am, corpse pose. A series of thoughts invade my mind and bloody well have a good go at picking me down further.

“Look at all them, they can do it, why can’t you?”
“Look at them all looking at you down there.”
“Come on it isn’t that hard, what’s wrong with you?”

I don’t need to go on any more about the extent of unhelpful thoughts. At this stage I am gazing at the roof doing everything I can to make myself feel small and unseen.

I’m an unhelpful thinker from way back, I have a pretty good hold on it these days, but it gets the better of me from time to time, I am after all, only human. What happened next inside my mind is what made me the proudest I’ve felt of myself in a while… The good ole Jekyl and Hyde conversation that, unfortunately, we have to have sometimes. Our big ole minds, our own worst enemies.

“You are here, you’ve made it here, good on you!”
“It’s been years since you’ve done it, cut yourself some slack, it’ll get better”
“You’re doing better than the people doing nothing.”
“You have been at work for almost 13 hours… It’s been a big day!”
“And you know what, no one is bloody looking at you, and if they are, they’re just a prick.”

It is not often I am able to turn my thoughts around so promptly. It’s not often that I walk away at the end of such an experience feeling good. I’m at times left deflated, low, carrying that negative thought pattern in to other realms of my life that I feel suited to put myself down in.

But you know what, now I’m excited. Not because I managed to relax the shit out of a normally intense yoga workout, but because where can I go from here? The only way is up (resisting the urge to sing…). Sitting out hot yoga because session 1 was a bit hard is never going to be the solution. No, pushing through it, challenging myself, is going to give me something excellent to compare today to! Imagine the sense of achievement then!

As the class comes to a close and the instructor talks of acceptance, I smile to myself. He talks about listening to and respecting what your body is trying to tell you. Accept it. Accept if you needed to go a little lower and accept that maybe you couldn’t gone a little harder. The practice is going to be different every time for every person and listen to what your body needs.

I’m pretty happy at the end of it, because I didn’t give up and meditate for an hour, I got back up every few minutes for a few more poses, knowing that sure, I may need to drop back down, but I still tried. I finished strongly with the floor poses and I listened and abided by what my body needed then and there.

I walk back out in to the cold evening, having just sweated in places I didn’t even know we could actually even sweat, and I feel good. I feel exhausted, but I feel like I am tip toeing my way in the right direction and heading to exactly where I want to be.

Go me!

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