12 April 2012

Unhappy Bikram Birthday

Tomorrow, April 13, will be my third Bikram Birthday. It was on April 13, 2009 that I ventured into the Torture Chamber for the first time. Sometimes, it seems like only yesterday. Now, it seems like centuries ago.

I still remember it well:

Walking into the room and getting slapped in the face punched in the mouth by the heat.

Laying down on the mat and silently praying that I wouldn't throw up.

Being so ashamed of my body that I wouldn't take off my shirt.

Learning that my heavy cotton shorts became ten times heavier when soaked in sweat.

Not being able to even reach my heels in Hands-to-Feet pose.

"OK, how the hell am I supposed to reach down and grab my foot?"

"Does it HAVE to be so friggin' hot??!!!???"

"Slow down... only so much water in that bottle."

"Fuck it, I'm SOOOOOOOO thirsty."

"How do you lock a knee?"

"If I try Triangle, they will have to carry me out of here."

 "If I stay 15 more seconds, they will have to carry me out of here."

"I really like Savasana!!!"

"No, wait, just one more minute of Savasana.... please????"

"I'm bringing a gallon of water (and maybe a 10 lb. bag of ice!)  next time... assuming there is a next time."

"Lift BOTH legs? I can't lift one!!!"

(Just before Half-Tortoise):  "Check, please!!" This is where I got up and left the room.

Well, from that inauspicious start blossomed what was, for a while, a pretty good practice. One challenge morphed into back-to-back challenges, and in six months I lost 45 lbs, lost five inches from my waist, and felt absolutely wonderful. From then on, it's gone downhill -- to the point now that I still haven't taken a class since November. A number of factors have contributed to this, most seemingly beyond my control.

I still look forward to resuming my practice. I think about it every day. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as though it will resume anytime soon. Nothing seems to work out like we wanted, and there seems to be at least two new stresses every day. Even quitting smoking (96 days now) has its problems: my lungs are seemingly always congested these days... a combination of spring allergies, humid weather, and lungs trying to detox make it hard to breathe some days... even with my inhaler. A good dose of Pranayama in a hot room would really help. Today has been really difficult. On the good side, I no longer crave tobacco... in fact, the smell of a cigarette now makes me slightly queasy.

One of my favorite teachers, Greg, always said that part of doing Bikram  was not only that I would feel so much better, but I would realize just how bad I felt before I began my practice.

I understand now, my friend. Oh, boy, do I understand.