Brave enough to try

Bikram yoga is a powerful healing modality.

For the body, the mind and the spirit.

Here, a BYCF yogi describes her own transformation.

A friend suggested I try Bikram yoga. My initial response was, “um yea, no thanks”. After a few more conversations and several relentless attempts to convince me that it would be worth ‘giving it a try’, I still could not decide. It was, however, becoming increasingly difficult for me to conjure up new excuses or offer any more of my irrational thought patterns. I had used them all.

With only partial commitment to my friend and myself, I hadn’t reached the point of saying, “sign me up” with any enthusiasm. I listened to a couple more of his testimonials about how Bikram yoga was beginning to change his body, calm his mind, and reclaim his spirit.

Finally, I meandered into the studio. I wondered how this yoga thing would measure up to other forms of exercise I previously enjoyed until a back injury forced me into dramatic lifestyle changes. The injury left me feeling hopeless, helpless, and very sad.

I entered the hot room, the extremely hot room. Excuses started crowding my head…if I was going to sweat, I wanted it to be the result of some outdoor cycling tour or from running ten miles on the beach, mid-day, in August. I quickly silenced the ill-fated rationale battling for a space in my mind and rolled out a yoga mat instead. I aligned myself behind a seasoned yogi, someone who looked as if she had been practicing her whole life. After unofficially assigning her the task of becoming my designated mentor, whether she knew it or not, I also hoped she would model how to breathe in there.

I lay in complete stillness upon my mat exactly as others were. Pain and sweat oozed from every pore in my body and class hadn’t even begun yet. I’m embarrassed, ashamed and barely able to hold on to my rapidly deteriorating spirit. My clothes sopping wet, I fought to arrest my overwhelming sadness by pinning the inside of my cheek firmly between my teeth. I gasp for the last bit of remaining air in the room.

The instructor enters, says “good morning’, and flips the light switch on. The students stand; I follow along, a half-step behind. I notice a wall of mirrors in front of me. Yikes! I wasn’t quite strong enough to make eye contact with the woman who mysteriously synchronized her movements with mine. She looked just like me. I caught a quick glimpse of my uncertainties, my judgments and my expectations.

There are 26 postures; I created my own interesting version of each one. The inner critic had so much to say. But, the next day I came back and did it all over again; and again and again. Although it has only been a few short months, I already consider Bikram yoga an integral piece of my transformation; a comfortable stride upon the path toward not only healing the wounds but exposing them first. It has allowed me to become more attuned to my body and consequently more receptive to its limitations. Bikram yoga offers reprieve from competition outside of the studio; none exists within it. The practice has begun to lift me from the tiring delusions of needing to arrive at the finish line better, faster, and stronger. It does not call me on my weaknesses, but rather invites me to notice them within myself.

I am the writer of my own critiques as well as the author of my personal growth. The perspective is my choice. Each class welcomes the opportunity to learn something new about myself; from being brave enough to “give it a try” even amidst doubt, to honoring the first peripheral glance in a room walled with mirrors.

Bikram Yoga Chadds Ford is an environment where the mindset is in the moment, where all beliefs about control, mastery and perfection are reset, and where not giving up can also mean letting go. The practice encourages a deeper level of awareness, a platform for spiritual growth. BYCF is a place to look in the mirror deeply, honestly, and without judgement.

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