SARAH WOLF | WRITER, READER, GAMER
My Inner Worlds
Bliss or Torture?
Last night I experienced my second Bikram yoga class, followed by hot Yin. I’ve been practicing yoga for over five weeks now. At first Bikram held no attraction, and I felt no intention to try it. The yogis in my Yin class spoke highly of it, and one of the instructors gave me a gentle nudge to attempt another style of yoga. When Raleigh Yoga Company hosted Billy Batten to lead a Bikram workshop, I thought it would be a great introduction to a form that intimidated me (see post here). I gave myself permission to wait until the August class schedule was published before signing up for an actual session. Slight procrastination, but with a deadline.
This past Sunday’s Yin class led by Susan Heller kicked me in a deep place (see post here). I obviously feel safe at this studio--with the instructors, as well as the yogis who share their energy in the room. My emotions released and I sobbed—yeah, one of those people, although I tried to hold it back. Afterwards Susan lent me her autographed hardcover of Bikram Yoga by Bikram Choudhury since she knew the next day would be my first class using this method. Reading the philosophy behind Bikram gave me a framework to appreciate it and to begin letting go of my fear of the unknown. I’ve ordered my own copy of the book so I can study it in leisure and reference the poses between practice.
My first Bikram class was a blur. Twenty-six poses seamlessly woven together while we sweat in a room heated to 104 degrees doesn’t allow for extraneous thoughts. However, those tricksy feelings lurk and wait for that comfortable moment when they can strike and say, “Don’t forget we’re still here!” Usually it’s my hips that hold this distressed voice, but Monday’s Bikram session opened a figurative scab in my upper neck where I thought my pain was a solid bone fused in unhappy union with my skull. While this may sound negative or gross, it’s a hopeful turn for healing something I once thought permanent. If the chronic pain I experience is truly a scab covering an old wounded spot, I can work to process the underlying issue. My chiropractor treats the bone, the alignment, and has done well for where I have been these past five years. However, I’m ready to move into a new body and a new way of seeing Sarah.
I want to use Bikram yoga as my magnifying glass to show me all the places where my balance is off, both literally and figuratively. If you’re in the hot room with me, you’ll see that I stumble out of the poses requiring balance. That helpful orange wall may develop a permanent handprint until I find my equilibrium. Who knows, maybe I’ll start a trend and all newbies to Bikram will get their handprint on the wall, in a color of their choice of course.
Bikram says, “Is it better to suffer for 90 minutes in ‘Bikram’s Torture Chamber’ or for 90 years?” I choose the 90 minutes so my coming years will be bliss. Yin has already begun a change within my mind and body. Where will I be when I have five weeks of Bikram under my mat? Tune in after Labor Day for my five-week check-in. I won't be able to hold the pose shown below in that timeframe, but I will eventually be limber and strong enough due to a loving community of yogis who cherish the success we share in each class.
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