Around the mind and body in 60 days: Week one of the 60-day Bikram challenge
Being the bohemian, liberal, laisser-faire, non-athletic, arts-loving poet of a football coach and cheerleader was sometimes like being a grain of salt in a peppermill.
I don’t often look before I leap, and typically take an emotional approach to situations rather than a logical one. Growing up, my dad dropped the words “preparation” and “game plan strategy” as frequently as sailors drop curse words, and there is no denying this mentality turned him into an extremely successful, award-winning college and professional coach.
I decide to put my athletic genes to work with this challenge — 60 days of yoga. I make a list of what I need to do to prepare and come up with a game plan strategy.
There are two levels of preparation: physical and mental. To prepare physically, I take a couple days off from yoga and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week along with various sundries like pasta, vitamins, granola bars, Gatorade, Advil and vodka. (Advil for the aches and vodka for the pains.) To prepare mentally, I make sure all my towels and yoga clothes are washed and I put fresh sheets on the bed.
I know that sticking to a (fairly) regular schedule will be a key to my success, which means going to class in the morning and getting it over with before work, errands, life or excuses take over. I know myself. I can be pretty inventive with excuses. Plus, I like my couch and prime-time TV. The night before Day One I am pumped. I am excited. I am nervous as hell.
Day 1: The alarm goes off, and I hit snooze for 30 minutes. I start to mentally rearrange my day in my head. The Westlake location has a 7 p.m. class, I think. Or South has a 6 p.m. class. Or there’s a 5:30 class Downtown, then I could make a nice dinner. Wow, we’re off to a great start. Then Carrie Underwood’s song “Before He Cheats” comes on. I summon up all the lingering residue of my last toxic relationship and literally leap out of bed. I sprint to the 9 a.m. class. I float out of class and through the rest of the day. All rainbows and unicorns.
Day 4: I wake up in the middle of a yoga dream. I dreamt that I walked into the yoga studio only to realize I had left my report card in the car, causing a massive anxiety attack. Will the class still count?! I try to go to my car to retrieve the report card, but I cannot find my car. Then, I have to take a long, lightless elevator ride below ground to get to the studio. Sigh. In reality, it’s raining, everyone is driving extra slowly and I manage to hit every single red light. My road rage boils over as I almost go full matrix on someone that cuts me off. I arrive to class with five minutes to spare, which means I get stuck in the front row right by the teacher’s podium. Double sigh. My mood mirrors the dreary weather, but, as Bikram says, “the only bad class is the one you don’t go to.” So I just relax, do the yoga, and by the end of class am feeling like sunshine again.
Day 5: I’m up before the alarm. I eat my banana and granola bar as I get ready, all the while humming the theme from “Rocky.” Class is on the warm side (ok, it’s hot), and there is a woman in the row behind me who is struggling and sits out a couple of postures. At one point, she looks like she is about to burst in tears. The teacher notices and without drawing attention to the woman, reminds us to relax and just breathe. She explains that as we are working our bodies, we are also expelling stress which can trigger an emotional reaction. Is that why I always feel like a vengeful ninja after Triangle pose?
Day 7: 7:15 am. The alarm clock goes off. My mind and body get into a little spat.
Mind: Time to get up and go to class!!
Body: Don’t even think about it. You know insomnia visited last night. Turn off the alarm. Now.
Mind: Come on! What about English bulldog determination and Bengal tiger strength?
Body: Forget it. We’ll go to an evening class.
Mind: No, we can’t. We’re babysitting the nephew later this afternoon, remember?
Body: Crap. What’s the latest class we can go to today?
Mind: The noon class.
Body: Deal. Wake me up in two hours.
Mind: Okay, deal. Remember what Aristotle said, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
Body: Aristotle didn’t just do Bikram yoga six days in a row.