Skinny Love: Skin & Bones.

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‘That’s why I say that the darkest place in the world is under the brightest lamp.”

For part one, click here.

I just had the worst day of my life, when I received this email from Los Angeles, with some good news.

Bikram had chosen me to award the full teacher training scholarship to become a Bikram Yoga Certified Teacher.

It had been a steady climb to get back into the game of life, but this email meant even more that that: I was back on top.

When I talked to my mentor at the time, ever so cautious, he said: “Ash, you will need to put on more weight.” He was understanding that it was a sensitive subject, but alluding to the intensity of the training it was a valid piece of advice. He let me know that no matter what he would always be by my side, as a mentor and a friend.

By the time I had hit my late teenage years, I had hit a brick wall. Bored senseless at university, studying a profession I had hardly knew or cared about, in a relationship that was crumbling beneath my feet. It was getting more difficult to see the bright side of life and the future prospects seemed futile.

“I know,”I replied nervously. And I did. But the fact of the matter was there was a huge distinction between my perception of weight with others. Worries about my body had been burdening me for the past year—the pressure was mighty and constant.

The very thought of not being able to control at least one aspect of my life was daunting.

I used the next few weeks as momentum to get into the best shape possible for training; both physically and mentally. I sought the advice of fellow teachers, who each lamented their experience was grueling, and so correct hydration and nutrition was essential.

I took in their advice, yet part of me was convinced they were lying—or that they exaggerated the truth.

After a month of preparation, I was ready. Or perhaps overly prepared; I had studied all the necessary requirements, exceedingly so. Physically, well not much had changed by way of weight.

Nevertheless, I pressed on—nothing could slow me down or get in my way.

The training was another world altogether.

Picture this: Palm Springs, paradise in the desert, some 90 minutes away from sunny Los Angeles. Our training base, a breathtaking luxury resort and spa, with two championship golf courses and expansive swimming pool complexes.

This is where we spent the next nine weeks.

The background was idyllic, magnifique,  spanning lavish gardens, enormous pools. The rooms were more like suites, with room service answering our beck and call. The atmosphere was lavish and decadent.

Yet, the training was anything so.

Exciting, amusing, intensive. Hard fucking work. The course includes six days of yoga, twice per day, with endless hours of studying asanas, anatomy, physiology and philosophy of yoga.

In essence, some 20 hour long days, with insane temperatures of 40 plus degrees. It wasn’t enough that the room where we practised our yoga was cranked up to temperatures off the radar—but even the walk to our lectures was strenuous under the blazing sun.

The meals were cumbersome; the time we had for each meal was limited.

We had no means of cooking, nor could we eat outside our ‘allocated’ meal time. Thrifty-ness was a must. We had no cooking amenities, and the cost of eating out was expensive. My diet consisted of salads and fruits.

I was by no means stringent with my food, nor was I calorie counting. But the intensity of the days events had me running on empty.

As the weight, again, started to shift, the attention on me began to expand. In a hope to remain unnoticed, I had cut my hair and dyed it brown before leaving Australia. This action failed abysmally.

Outwardly, I embraced the criticism that was delivered by Bikram, my guru—inwardly, I was more and more uncomfortable with the constant public taunts.

It was about week five of the training and I collapsed. I was beyond exhausted. The energy reserves I had once been able to draw from were no longer there. My immune system was so low that any invading pathogen could have knocked me for a six.

In a pit of despair with my body flailing, I nearly gave up and left the training.

It wasn’t until one lecture that I heard something resonating within. “The most important thing in your life is your life…You need to treat it like a brand new Ferrari—physically, mentally, spiritually…In helping yourself, you can help others.”

In a state of delirium, it was almost as if it was intentionally directed towards me, despite the fact there were more than 300 people around me. I felt something stir from within—I knew that I needed to face that last dreaded part of me that was still hiding.

That part of control I desperately was still clinging on to.

I needed to let go, and silence those demons I had listened too for far too long.

“Eat! Eat! Eat! Every day and every night —I don’t fucking care. Because you, Blondie, are going to be a star,” Bikram said to me.

And that is precisely when the game changed.

To be continued…


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

The Elephant Ecosystem

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Ash Constance

Ash is an international yoga teacher, Doctor of Chiropractic, and writer. Through her struggles, she is inspiring tens of thousands across the globe. FInd her on Facebook and Instagram: @ash_constance.

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anonymous Mar 27, 2016 6:23am

While I respect the author’s struggle, this article to me felt full of very strange metaphors- fur example, referring to one’s body as a Ferrari, or a the idea as that as yogis we are “stars”. We are all made if star dust actually. And I think that yoga has a danger of becoming “Self” obsessed. Of course I guess that yoga can just be anything to anyone right? But to me that’s like saying that anyone can be an engineer or an amazing performer, or a teacher. These are things that are deeper than the exterior of our bodies, and I think we need to move away from Pop and capitalist culture, at LEAST, if we are going to do any real changing. I sense that the author is pretty young, and I do not mean to be condescending, just informative. Yes eating disorders are super hard. And maybe some focus on the struggles of others can help you break out if this type of thinking.

anonymous Mar 20, 2014 10:41am

I struggled with anorexia and exercise addiction for years, so if you're all so damn far in your yoga journeys, why are you being so harsh? However, I agree that Bikram yoga is a terrible choice of a yoga path if you're trying to heal… it's yoga exercise in a room that's way too hot and a form of yoga that hosts "yoga competitions," which is essentially an oxymoron. End rant on Bikram Yoga. I hope she has found other forms of yoga to practice too.

anonymous Mar 20, 2014 1:54am

Anyone who is willing to be honest and vulnerable about their challenges is in a path of healing and serves as inspiration and support for others with their own struggles. They remind us that no one is perfect and that perfection is not necessary in order to make a positive impact in this world. We are learning as we continue on our journey through life. Let us support and encourage each other. There is no need for judgment here. May we all find greater peace in our lives.

anonymous Jul 24, 2013 8:32pm

I appreciate your honesty. Most people would not be so straightforward, for fear of judgement – you are brave. After suffering from eating issues for years myself, I was finally able to let go and get to a healthy weight, even if the obsessive thoughts of limiting my diet still haunt me. May we all get to a place where we're at peace with our bodies.

anonymous Jul 24, 2013 2:39pm

"I for one would not be interested in attending your classes."
That's a little harsh. I think we can learn something from everyone, especially someone with the guts to expose themselves in such an honest way.

anonymous Jul 24, 2013 12:34pm

the title suggested, at least to me, that this article would be about finding acceptance of the limitations (er) of one's own body. or, if nothing else, accepting one's own body. i thought perhaps it would touch upon the ways in which body shaming affects people of all sizes and body shapes. i was wrong. and i'm kind of disappointed at all the allusions to… what? what, exactly, are we reading about again? how awesome the writer's life got when she finally packed on a few pounds?

anonymous Jun 4, 2013 4:03pm

We all have issues we cling to no matter how far we have come in our yoga journey. Thank you for being so honest!

anonymous Jun 4, 2013 1:35am

You silly, silly, SILLY girl! You would think that so far into your yoga journey you would have enough awareness about your body to not get into such a situation with your diet. I for one would not be interested in attending your classes. You need to go deeper into your own practice instead of worrying about how you look, what to eat/not eat and your training scholarship. I think your real journey is only about to start. Good luck.

    anonymous Jul 24, 2013 4:46pm

    Darren, from your judgemental and insulting response it seems to me that you have far to go in your journey as well.

    anonymous Jul 24, 2013 8:35pm

    Your comments aren't very helpful, and in fact, are the very reason why most people do not divulge problems they may have regarding body issues. I hope you revisit what you wrote here, and take it as a learning experience.

    anonymous Mar 20, 2014 2:21am

    As you said, yoga is a journey and as such it requires us to face our insecurities. For many of us, our relationship with food goes far, far beyond the simple worry for our body image. Plus, if you are at least a little familiar with yoga, one of the first things you should have learned is to silence your ego and stop judging others (and yourself)! Namaste

anonymous Jun 2, 2013 9:31pm

Amazing! Thank you!

anonymous Jun 2, 2013 8:25am

Great article, I can't wait for the next installment.