I’m a pretty firm believer in the notion that people do not change. Incremental alterations for the better or worse, sure; massive overhaul of one’s being? Nope. It’s a belief I hold, yet I accept and even welcome – nay, relish – exceptions to the rule.
Those conscious, jump-in-eyes-wide-open, tectonic plate shifting life decisions aside, I think maybe the best chance any of us has to really change and grow is to stop periodically and take stock of where we’re at; what’s new, what’s different, what we’ve shed along the way, what has proven constant and comforting. Which brings me to the point(ish) of this post: Bikram Yoga. Sort of.
Thanks to a kickass Living Social deal a few months ago, I recently wrapped up two months of Bikram classes for the insanely low price of $20. In a shocking turn of events, I have decided to – rather than take my cost savings and run – continue with the classes. I am hooked. And boy oh boy, you’d better believe that was not always the case. I hated it with a venomous passion the first time I tried it. I hated it only the tiniest bit less the second time. I hated it even more than the first time when I went back for a third class. I was miserable. Ninety minutes of stretching and contorting in a 105 degree room highlighted both my extraordinary inflexibility *and* my apparent ability to go from normal to wicked sweaty in about sixty seconds. I have conducted some very scientific observations in the last two months (lots of surreptitious checking out of my neighbors in class) and I am convinced I sweat more than nearly every other human being who has ever done Bikram Yoga.
But then… this thing happened. Round about the sixth or seventh class, I started to kind of like it. Instead of calling my mom and swearing for a full minute after class, I started enjoying the walk home – noticing how energetic and bendy I felt. Instead of offering a bitter and begrudging “Namaste” in response to the teacher at the end of class, I started to actually mean it. I stopped thinking, “I hate her and her and him and him, and especially *him* with his ball sweat that I can totally see,” and started noticing that I was actually getting better at some of the poses. Quelle surprise! After a lifetime of declaring that I have little to no flexibility because, well, I have little to no flexibility, I am actually able to bend and move in ways I never thought possible. There are certain poses I suspect I’ll always have trouble with, but lo and behold – I am capable of change in an area I had long ago given up on.
I love this most unexpected development in my life. I am about two months out from beginning hardcore training in preparation for running my first marathon in October. That mess is a whole different business that I’m sort of trying not to think about too much right now. However, I realized recently that I am definitely going to need to do something other than just run… and run… and run for 20 weeks. I thought about weight training and spinning and other classes at the gym and I died a little inside. I hate the gym. I go and have gone off and on for years because I thought it was the thing to do, but I have despised it. I trudge in there (mostly on cold and/or rainy days) like Charlie Brown on some kind of death march, plod through a workout and hope like hell that the next day will bring run-worthy, sunny weather. So I have signed up at the yoga studio, will cancel my gym membership and am hoping that all the running and the bendifying that are in store will have me mind and body-ready to dance with 26.2 miles in six months.
Am I a different person than I was two months ago when I started? No, not really. What’s different is that for the first time in a while, I have made a decision to change something in my life entirely of my own volition. It is not an addition or subtraction brought on by external forces and it is good for me in pretty much every way I can think of.
If I’m not careful, I could probably become downright evangelical about Bikram. But that would be obnoxious and I’d have to make fun of myself a little bit. Besides, no matter how much I love it, there is one thing that will never make sense to me. There’s this one pose near the beginning of the series where the teacher says that when you’re doing it right, you should look like a Japanese ham sandwich. I have scoured the internet for images of a Japanese ham sandwich and all I have been able to find are other people’s blogs and posts on yoga-related sites, wondering the same thing. This was the image that turned up several times in my travels. The left is the pose done correctly and the right is, well, obv. I am stumped.
I don’t think I’m ever going to dash off to yoga teacher training or anything, but it is nice to have something new that I love this much. It’s not a revolutionary change, but it’s good and positive and happy-making. From where I sit – sweaty and twisty – that is an awesome thing.