It has been just over a week since I completed my 100 day Bikram challenge.
The grind is over.
No more doubles. No more rising in the wee hours to fit in a class before work. No more late night loads of laundry to make sure my gear is ready for the next day.
People ask how I'm feeling. They ask if things are different. They ask if I feel a real change.
My answer? Well, yes. And no.
Physically, yes I did feel different -- at least for a few days. I was lighter. I was more flexible. Poses that were very difficult were easier. Poses that I excelled at became fun, even joyous. My breathing was better. There were mental improvements as well. My focus was so much better! Those negative voices and thoughts receded into the background. For a day or two, I was on a real emotional high. I felt so good about what I had accomplished. My yoga "family" gave me so much love and support that a simple "Thank You" seems too simple. Banal. Trite.
Just a week later, it all seems foreign, as though it was a dream. A story I made up in my head. Now that my yoga "bubble" has burst, I feel as though I'm back where I started.
I've been on vacation this week. A lazy, do very little staycation. I haven't done much this week. The first four mornings, I got up and walked 2-3 miles each morning. It was quite refreshing and I easily worked up a sweat in the warm, humid conditions. As for yoga, I have completed only two classes since the challenge ended. Monday's class wasn't too bad. I was still able to kick out both sides in Head to Knee. That said, it had been 85 hours since class #101 last Friday, and it showed. I was much less flexible. The strength wasn't there. The balance was more difficult to maintain. I ascribed this to the fact that my body was recovering from the grind, and that in a few days an equilibrium would be found. Not so. Wednesday's class was worse. I had no strength or balance. I fell out of almost every pose. I sat out Triangle, something that hasn't happened in weeks! Anyone watching would hardly believe I had just completed a challenge.
This brings us to Thursday.
I was invited to take class and then join some of my friends/classmates for dinner. I was hesitant because they are younger, more successful, and have better yoga practices than me. Most of all, they always seem to be much happier or content than I am. Always smiling and playing around in the room after class. I didn't want to be a downer or a nuisance.
So it's Thursday and class begins and I can hardly breathe or move. It quickly becomes apparent that I'm panicking. I make it through the first three postures, then grab my mat and beat a hasty retreat. I text apologies and go home feeling terrible. I binge on cheeseburgers and fall asleep.
Many people say that a long duration challenge changes you. You feel different. You look different. Your temperament changes. Your life improves. One of my instructors even used the following quote:
"Do your practice. All is coming."
- Sri K Pattabhi Jois
For my two work study friends who completed 30 and 60 day challenges in the midst of my own, this is true. One started her own business. The other found a dream job that she loves. I am insanely happy for them.
Me? Well it will be back to the same old job with the same struggles and fights and disappointments. I had the fortitude to go to yoga for 100 days, yet I cannot summon the courage to search for a new and better way of living. Living in a yoga bubble for three months plus gave me a place to hide, to consider what I could do if I merely made an effort. I thought I made strides forward and gained a measure of confidence. I thought I was ready for real change. In reality, little has changed. I'm still watching my life pass by through a glass that I cannot break. I know there is a better way. I just can't get there. I am weak. I am gutless. And the clock keeps ticking.
I should have kept going.