God bless the twenty-six and two

I had a really great class this morning. I nearly didn’t go; I have so much work to do and I haven’t been in some time (work is stealing my yoga, it needs a stern talking to and to be sent to the naughty corner). I knew though that it would set me up for my busy day of work so I went, and I had a fantastic class. It was a good old-fashioned hot class (this year there seems to be a strange trend towards cooling the classes down). I’ve always liked the Balham studio the most because the classes are hot (like, Hot Hot) and whilst I don’t ever tell a teacher during or after class whether I’m too cold or too hot (you deal gracefully with the hand you’re dealt in that room) I have, admittedly, been missing the challenging heat of my first two years of practise. But this morning it was hot and I was grateful.

It reminded me that several months ago I had a totally different experience with the heat and it made me smile remembering it. It was a class that had me convinced I was never coming back and it went a little something like this.

I was hideously nauseous and overwhelmingly hot. The kind of overwhelming heat that makes your face feel three times its size and as though all of your organs are are in your throat. My heart was beating in my eyelids. I cried. I cramped. I saw stars and had to find the floor blind three times. God I was nauseous. I bumped into the girls on either side of me. And I was angry. So so angry. I teetered on the edge of a panic attack. I had such raging dialogue inside my head. I was swearing at the teacher, swearing at the studio owner for taking all my money. All my money. I stood in front of Bikram and used words at him that I never use. I could not see the point in this practise. This same fucking twenty-six postures and two breathing exercises each time. I swore at myself for being so foolish to have fallen for it. I hated myself. I wanted to punch myself (instead of finding this image funny, as I do now, it just made me rage more). I sniggered at myself for so badly having wanted to be a Bikram yoga teacher. That I thought I’d be doing something good. And I cried again. I wanted to leave but was too dizzy. And I was being stubborn. It’s very rare that I get stubborn. But when I do get stubborn, I get stu.bborn (there’s a story about kayak in a storm here). So I stayed. And I tried every posture. I didn’t do one single posture fully. But I tried. I’d keep trying to let go of the anger. I’d just keep trying. I made myself stay and it was hell.

It took a little longer than usual after class to calm my heart and peel my wrecked self off the matt. My last class – done. Silently I showered, got dressed and went home. An hour later, after gulping back a litre of orange juice and a handful of magnesium supplements, I reflect on how stressed and worried I’d been recently. How the long challenging hours at work have meant very little yoga and the return of some lower back pain and sciatica, and how this has made me feel a little out of sorts, short and tetchy with friends, and emotional. I’d certainly been less measured and calm than usual. And I was suddenly aware of how markedly … new I felt at that moment; cleansed, and emotionally stronger than I’ve felt in months. I remember this feeling, this post-Bikram place of strength, and calm, and joy and I notice that absentmindedly I’m packing my yoga bag.

“One more” I said to myself with a knowing smile. And I went back. And I cried. And I laughed. And I breathed. And I was home.



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