Tuesday, April 7, 2009

30 Days and Challenges

I guess the "30-day challenge" - 30 classes in 30 days - is a big part of the Bikram world.  Every studio has one.  The studio I'm at now started its Spring challenge last Wednesday.  I signed up because that's what I do.  I've never missed a studio challenge since I started really practicing.

I did my first 30 day challenge in September 2007.  Loved it.  Loved the yoga, loved the discipline, love the ritual of going to class every day.  My body felt great.  My mind was calmer.  So I kept going.  Went to (by my count) 380 classes over the course of the next 365 days.  Wasn't trying to prove anything, wasn't making a point,, wasn't doing it as a challenge.  I just like the yoga.  It's my practice.

Have had a LOT of major life changes since that Fall.  Started grad school the following year... moved across the country... left my studio... friends... family... my entire life, basically.  When I got to my new town, at the end of a cross-country drive, I went to the Bikram yoga studio and took class before going to my new apartment.  Got there just in time to jump into the beginning of a 60-day challenge.  Super.  The white-board sign-in for challengers keeps me honest.  I like it.

Finished 2008 strong, practicing like a lunatic.  Was back at my home studio over winter break, took maybe 13 classes there during the first week I was back, felt a little bit tired but mostly happy to be there.  Soaking it up.

These past couple months... grad school finally caught up with me and kicked my butt.  Lots of things happened in my head, good things and bad things.  But my practice... oh... I've felt like it was slipping away from me.  I haven't been working on crazy fun advanced postures like I used to do.  I've been running as hard as I can just to stay in one place, like someone turned up the treadmill too high and I'm about to go flying off the back.  I still miss my old teachers.  I miss my advanced classes.  I miss my balance.

This brings me to my point.  Over a 30-day period in March, I only practiced maybe 20 times.  Not enough.  That was a HUGE CHALLENGE.  It pretty much did me in.  My body felt terrible.  My sleeping patterns were all fucked up.  Some nights I couldn't sleep, some days I couldn't get out of bed.  I almost felt FAT, that dreaded f-word that I deliberately banished from my vocabulary a few years ago after being its slave for too long.  I missed the yoga like homesickness.

Last Wednesday, April 1st, the 30-day challenge at my studio started and of course I signed up.  It's only been going for 7 days now, which seems like a tiny blip after a year and a half of essentially daily practice.  I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. Already.  Above all else, I feel this overwhelming sensation of relief.  Thank god.  I'm safe.  I'm back.  My practice is still here.  My yoga body is already re-emerging, so willingly.  It was all here the whole time.  I was here this whole time.  

I have so many thoughts and beautiful ideas and questions that are all tangled up together.  Not sure how to grab just one thread by itself.  Not sure how to talk about the yoga without talking about the things that are most personal to me, since they seem to have merged at some point when I wasn't watching.  

I wasn't really expecting this post to be so pensive.  I'm not exactly an "emo" kind of person.

To lighten the mood I will finish with an awesome comment taken verbatim from one of my favorite people: "If we could improved our postures every class, we became super yoga person too fast, it is boring. one step foward and two steps back, how am I feeling inside of me from yoga? WOW!"  :)

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