Class 26 was so grueling that it’s taken me three days just to have the energy to write about it.
My practice has slowed down quite a bit. Mainly because of the back pain (which continues, though at a semi-reasonable level these days) which is super frustrating. My body has gotten in the way of the momentum I’d been riding. I need to find my balance though and get back to it.
But the class. I cannot even begin to tell you how hot it was. It was like we were doing the postures on the surface of the sun. For me, this entire class had nothing at all to do with the poses and absolutely everything to do with managing my mental state – which is an amazing and interesting facet to this practice of Bikram Yoga. The room, this time, was absolutely excruciating. The heat was suffocating me and my brain was SCREAMING at me to get the hell out of there. I was begging me, pleading with me, to take just a little break. One set of poses – that’s it. Just a break from the heat, a chance to catch my breath, a refresher to give me the strength to finish the class strong.
The whole time it was:
“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”
“Just breathe. In…. Out…. Eyes open, stay with it.”
“No. I can’t. It’s too hot. I can’t breathe.”
“You are breathing. Just let it go.”
… and it was back and forth like that in my head the entire time, from posture #3 until the very end. I didn’t make it through some of the postures (it was so hot that I had to lay down at times when I’d normally be able to tolerate the heat and keep at it) and that’s okay. As it turns out, this class wasn’t about the postures for me.
And now I can finally see just how far I’ve come in 8 weeks. All the times I thought it was hot in there, all the times I convinced myself to stay in the room, every single time I made it through a 90 minute class it was just preparing me emotionally to get through a class this brutal. I made it through. I haven’t felt strong enough to make it through much over the last two years, but I made it through this. I mastered my brain enough to NOT run out of the room. I sat with my pain and discomfort because I knew I could. I was aware of the brutal heat, my aching body, the takeover of my fight-or-flight… and I sat with it and won.
This has gotten me really thinking about how far I’ve come and I’m simply amazed at the mental strength I summoned to get myself through a physically and emotionally painful situation. Which makes me think about how this will translate into sitting with all the other pain in my life. This yoga is already leading to less misery in my life, and that’s so crazy and unexpected. Sitting with the pain and discomfort inside the room is helping with the pain outside the room.
The weight loss is great. The new clothes are great. The feeling of youth (or at least a subtraction of 5+ years) is great. The muscle definition in my legs is great! It’s all wonderful and amazing and empowering, but it’s nothing compared to the feeling that I can sit with my own pain and live through it.
If I can live through the absolutely brutal, life-sucking conditions of a Bikram Yoga hot room, then maybe I can find a way to live through all this other bullshit. I hope so.