I confidently stride into the room, unaware that my short employment stint at a fitness center could never fully prepare me for playing twister in a tropical rain forest. Beads of sweat begin to accumulate in my unmentionable creases and the first trickle descends from the nape of my neck into my poor excuse for cleavage. I loathe sweating yet, sadly, as a particularly wooly breed of albino human, sweating comes as naturally as breathing. I inventory the nearby mats harboring overweight elderly people and overconfidence blankets my sweltering body in the cool air of assumption. Clearly I'll be able to bend my body faster, better and longer than the decaying funeral home field trip that knitted their own yoga towels during craft hour. I'm young, spry and in relatively good shape.
After a few minutes of sweating in the aptly named "dead body" pose, a wilted bean stock saunters gracefully into our humble microwave, his chestnuts securely fastened in a scanty bikini. He introduces himself as the instructor and seems amicable enough, diffusing the aura-sensing palm-reading vibe emitted by most yogis. Ten minutes in and I look like a Niagara Falls tourist without the protective poncho. Sammy Sunshine quickly morphed into Attila the Hun berating us serfs from his Olympic champion-esque platform and I hate him, I hate yoga and I hate gasping for rogue molecules of oxygen amidst clouds of moisture—especially considering this dampness is occupied by the scent of liver and onions.
Utterly perturbed that I've voluntarily engaged in an activity in which I wasn’t instantaneously adept, I humph and grrrph my way through a few half-assed postures, watching as granny's got her foot clear her head and the ninety year old fat man’s been teetering on one leg for what seems like thirty minutes while I've been chugging water and attempting to smear away the sweat congregating on my upper lip. Lindsay is all tunnel vision in the front mirror, executing every posture to perfection even as I attempt to distract her with amusing faces and drowning person thrashing movements. Not the place for humor.
I leave the class, conscious that the four other classes in my package were as unnecessary as bringing a towel into that steam room orgy. And I effectively evade Bikram yoga for another few months while Lindsay practices nearly every day and continually pushes me to join. Finally, I succumb and purchase a thirty-day package, vowing to finish the notorious tough 30-day challenge, with veteran Linds as my coach and accompanying yoga buddy.
And today I am proud to say after 30 consecutive days, I have completed my Bikram yoga challenge! I made it from work across the island in 30 minutes each day, through monsoons, on flat tires, hung-over, sick and after minor bodily injuries. And strangely, those 90 minutes inside the sun’s ashtray provided more peace and stability in my life than an unlimited Xanax script. Five hundred and forty seconds of thinking of nothing other than remembering to breath and occasionally hold my foot in some unnatural direction. 90 straight minutes of staring at myself in a mirror was like watching the tin man trying to do gymnastics, but I managed to destroy my self deprecating thoughts and the humorous imagery inlaid in this practice, like watching 15 other people twisting themselves into dripping pretzels in some sort of cultish rain dance.
I’m a flamingo! I’m a cobra! Then a rabbit and some sort of jet plane. I morph from one object to the next with the least amount of poise, channeling way more Transformers than Chicago. During floor poses I slink about my confined rectangular kiddy pool in a very newt-ish manner. My face glows a hideous shade of purple and the humidity twists wandering locks of my hair into sweat-soaked tendrils that float beside my face like mangroves along the riverbank.
|WE DID IT!|
And after this month, even if I’ve lost not a pound, I feel much happier and peaceful not to mention accomplished. This is the first time I’ve felt truly challenged physically since high school sports and even though at times I just wanted the instructors to leave me be so I can half ass my way through in peace, I thank them for pushing me to my limits and making me enjoy it. I will continue with Bikram yoga as a modification to my existence in general by constantly engaging in things that make me feel challenged and/or uncomfortable. Because if you’re not aching, sweating or straining, you’re not doing it right.