Very much like my life at the time, my first Bikram Yoga class five years ago was filled with drama, despair, tears and intensity. It’s a funny story now, that I cried and wanted to throw up and felt like I might pass out and how the heat nearly killed me and I wanted to run out of the room screaming and never go back. I was inflexible in just about every way conceivable. I was embarrassed to compare my clunky, lumpy body in a room of lithe, bendy people. I didn’t want to look at myself (for 90 minutes! WTF???). But no matter how hard I tried that night, I couldn’t’ get away from the sight of myself in those very large mirrors. I had no idea until much later, that having nowhere to hide in the hot room was actually a really helpful thing.

Back then, my marriage had recently ended. My kids were suffering and I was depressed and heartbroken. I don’t know why I turned up – smelling of cigarettes and a little too much alcohol from the night before – but I did. I felt terrible, sick and exhausted before, during but not always after class. All I knew at the time was that while the world outside the hot room was hard and chaotic, sad and confusing, the space inside the room was a reprieve from all of that.

In the hot room my ex-husband’s hurt expression or angry words couldn’t reach me, my business woes couldn’t be fixed, my depression couldn’t drag me down further, my grief couldn’t consume me and I couldn’t do a damn thing when my angry or disappointed thoughts corrupted my focus – not for 90 minutes and not for a while after class after which I was calm and spent.

Things got better as they always do and time passed. My divorce became final. I went to yoga. I missed my kids. I went to yoga. I wanted to have a bust out play date with friends, drinking and smoking and dancing so I went to yoga first. I quit smoking at Bikram Yoga Tranquil Point Health Retreat 18 months into my practice. I really really really had to do a lot of yoga then. I practiced twice a day at the retreat for a week. It worked. I’ve been cigarette free for 3 and ½ years now.

After being single for a few years, I met a fantastic guy. I went to yoga. We fell in love. He started coming to yoga too. But then we went to yoga less. We got married. We traveled and the world became our playground. I did yoga less and played even more. I put on weight from all the fun I was having and the exercise and the yoga I wasn’t doing. Days without yoga became weeks and then months of not turning up at all. I procrastinated. I complained. I got bigger and felt heavy in my body and my thoughts. I didn’t like that. Yoga kept calling me back until a day came when I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I reckon losing balance can be the start of finding balance. I’m far from perfect and I have absolutely no intention of ever being so, but I’m delighted to acknowledge that I’m finding a new kind of balance with a regular Bikram practice in this latest phase of an ever-evolving practice. It’s nice to see my body coming back and my focus sharpening. I don’t want to feel sick in the hot room so I make more conscious choices about food and alcohol and life takes a different turn and that’s great.

Thanks for the ride Bikram Yoga and to the inspiring teachers I have met over the years.

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