I started Bikram yoga at the insistence of a friend and co-worker only one year ago and I instantly fell in love.
It was what my work-outs were missing. It was what my soul was missing.
I had tried â€śregularâ€ť yoga a few times before, in the privacy of my home with P90X work-out CDs and prior to that I was actually asked to leave a class because I couldn’t stop laughing when I was told to find my center and that I was rooted to the earth. I was in my early 20â€™s then and the concept was so ridiculous to me at the time. I was used to boot camps and trainers screaming at me to push myself until I puked.
So when my girl-friend asked me to join her for hot yoga I thought for sure I was going to hate it and that it wouldn’t be intense enough for me.
So I went. And I fell in love. Perhaps everything that I had been through in my life finally prepared me for transformation that took place after that first class. I was receptive to the concept. My body struggled. Sweat was pouring off of me. My mind didn’t have a single opportunity to wander from the tasks at hand, so focused I was on keeping my balance, moving through the poses, breathing.
I was breathing.
After the first class, I started going five days a week, sometimes more. I was making gains in my battle of self-acceptance. I was proud of each new pose I maintained. Proud of my clarity. Proud of me. Proud that this shell I occupy, with all its battle wounds could carry me through these 90 minute sessions with growing ease. I began to appreciate the inner strength I was gaining. I began to nurture myself in a way that was absent before.
And in a cruel twist of fate I had to have another emergency surgery related to my breast cancer reconstruction and it all came to a screeching halt. I was devastated. I was angry. I fell into a deep depression and all the progress I felt I had made vanished. My flame extinguished.
The agony was so dark that I literally booked a plane ticket to Oregon on the fly; because I decided before I died I wanted to see and touch a real-life redwood tree. The despair I felt after that surgery was maddening. I had fallen down the rabbitâ€™s hole and there was no going back. I was told I could not engage in any physical activity for quite a while and this only served to pour salt in my wound.
I took almost a year off from all physical activity, with the exception of walking to allow my body time to heal. In that time I grew discouraged. My body felt like jello. I began that descent into self-loathing. It wasn’t enough for me that I had survived, I needed more. You see, I am a vain survivor. I would love to sit here and tell you that being alive and wearing my scars proudly is enough, but it isn’t. Not for me.
I have struggled with these body issues my whole life. My standards at the time were completely unrealistic. But I knew I was not the best version of myself that I could be, and it killed me.
So after getting permission from my surgeon I began working out again, this time with a vengeance. I hit the gym. I began running. I went back to boot camp like work-outs and I saw results but my mind was still a mess. It was constantlyÂ on. Until I went back to Bikram yoga.
The first day back at practice, I cried. I was so happy to rediscover what I was missing out on. I was finally able to breathe again. With each class I am growing stronger in all aspects. My mind is once again thriving in that free space.
With each class, I set my intention for others, friends I knew that were struggling, family members, the universe in general. This last class, I set my intention and it was me. Just me.
I set my intention to loving my body in its entiretyâ€¦for one full 90 minute time block.
I cried softly this day too, but it was not in despair. I cried because I had found the love for me.
Author: Christie Page
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Sombilon Photography/Flickr