March 15, 2015

What Bikram Taught me about Life.


My eyelids were heavy, like they had gained 20 pounds in the last hour.

I drove home from work, mentally and physically exhausted from the day. When I’m lucky, if you call it that, the person I want to become is louder than the tired, cranky, mess that I submit to by 5:00 p.m.

I got home and changed into my yoga clothes before I allowed myself to devour the energy bar, yogurt and apple I would consider dinner. Then I teased my sense of relaxation with 10 minutes in my bed while mindlessly looking in the digital window of people’s lives.

It’s so easy to look at an edited picture of someone and imagine the life they live like it’s a summer night on a beach in Jamaica all day every day. I somehow leave my computer screen feeling a little less positive than before I laid down, reminding me this wasn’t where I was supposed to waste my time. I grab my mat and rush to the studio.

Late and exhausted, I smile at my lovely friends working the front desk. I lay my mat out in the hot dim room and wait patiently for the teacher’s welcome. It begins with breath, the basic reminder that I am lucky to have this moment, this day and this life. Filling my lungs with air reminds me that I do have energy as long as I have control over my breath. Then it proceeds into a movement that causes me to forget my thoughts and focus on the placement of my body in this heated, glowing, room.

I’m no longer thinking about the mistake I made at work, the gossip I shouldn’t have contributed to, the way I over-reacted in an argument, or the email I forgot to send. Instead I am focusing on learning to lock out my knee, grip my foot with all 10 of my fingers including my thumbs, suck my stomach in, push out my heel and bend my toes back for standing head-to-knee pose.

I mean who could possibly carry another thought with all those instructions? Not to mention the heat had begun creating small droplets of sweat dripping in a steady rhythm down my temple. I trust my breath as it leads my  soaked body through all 26 postures.

I am not overwhelmed when I cannot balance on my right toe in toe stand and I am not frustrated when I fall out of standing bow two times on one leg. Surprisingly, the perfectionist in me has chilled out a bit and I am satisfied working towards goals; I trust that if I keep kicking back and reaching forward that one day I will straighten my leg high above my head and see my reflection in the mirror. I find comfort in knowing I am exactly where I need to be if I am ever going to balance on my right toe with both hands at my heart and get back up flawlessly.

The thing about yoga is it allows me to start with my breath, focus without distractions on small tiny efforts, that will one-day lead me to success. It blocks out unnecessary distractions and allows me to live in each warm dedicated moment. It reminds me it’s okay to fail. The concentration lets me see hard-fought progress on a strong day and humbles me with failure on my weaker ones. Some days when I am not sure why I pass up wishing I was living someone else’s summer night in Jamaica I remember that yoga is my metaphor to the way I want to lead my life.



I was Fired as a Bikram Yoga Teacher.

Author: Amy Bortnick

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia

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Amy Bortnick