Around the Mind and Body in 60 Days: Week eight, where Bikram makes good at theend
Suddenly, it seems, my report card has only ten spaces left, with nine days left to go. I still have one damned double to do, but other than that, you can tell the fat lady to start primping because she will be on in ten. After last week’s emotional detour through Wallowtown, I return home to Pleasantville.
It’s 4:00 in the morning, and I’ve been working for the past hour fleshing out and making notes for the new business venture. The more I work, the more excited I become. Finally, at 5:20 a.m. I put the laptop away and drift off into a happy slumber, rising in time to make it to the noon class. I score a spot right by an outside door, where there is the teeny-tiniest of breeze coming through.
I spend the next 90 minutes in hot nirvana. Because I’m on the slightly tired side, I don’t think about anything except the yoga. But I do catch myself in the mirror smiling faintly, yes, you should be smiling. Things are good and about to get even better.
I discover the key to a great class: Drink one mocha frappuchino approximately three hours beforehand. Paired with a high-on-life good mood, the class practically flies by. I lock my knees in Standing Head to Knee. I come within an inch of touching my forehead to the ground in Standing Separate Leg Stretching. I even work on Toe Stand.
I almost laugh out loud as I think about a line from Karate Kid: You karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” squish just like grape. To me, in my yoga practice, this quote simply reminds me not to get too caught up in how perfect (or, as is more accurate, imperfect) my postures are, but rather to commit to “yes,” commit to not half-assing it, commit to making a little progress every time.
Mind: You’re liking that mocha frappuchino, aren’t you?
Body: Yes! Look how we’re rocking class!
Mind: Enjoy it, because you won’t get another one for a long time.
Body: No! Body need! Body need for yoga!
Mind: Look at you. You’re totally buzzed.
Body: It’s the yoga. Body buzzed on yoga!
Mind: Nice try. You’re still cut off.
Timing really is everything. Although I only have two days left, I have three classes to do, which, given my schedule, means one class today and two tomorrow. After the (amazing) 9 a.m. class, I rush off to see my very first Cirque du Soleil show called Quidam. The Cirque du Soleil troops are known for their jaw-dropping acrobats, aerial contortionists and body balancing acts. It’s like the circus on crack.
Having just been through almost two straight months of yoga, I am a new place mentally to be able to marvel at the shear athletic ability of these performers. One act involved a man and woman doing a balancing routine, during which the woman spent the first five minutes in a handstand position, but balancing on her should blades — on top of the man’s shoulder blades — while he was standing up. And that was the simplest thing they did.
I don’t think I breathed the entire act. Their concentration and determination was palpable. You could hear the audience’s sharp inhale of breath with every quivering limb and every muscle contraction; and even though loud music was playing, you could have heard a feather falling. I turn to my friend after the show and say “If they can do that, I can do one freaking double."
D-Day. I must do a double today to make it an official 60-day challenge. Up until today, I had been dreading doing two classes in two days, simply because I had never done one, and, honestly once class a day is enough for me physically. But when I woke up and realized that this was it, I was excited.
For me, I decide the best approach is to spread the two classes out — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I hit the 10 a.m. and before I know it, we’re heading into Cobra and the last thirty minutes of class. I return home to eat, grade essays all afternoon, eat again and then head out to the 7:30 p.m. class.
I actually feel good and ready to get back in the hot room. I set up in my favorite corner spot in the front row, relax, and wait for class to start. I think about the postures and what I need to work on in class: still can’t do Toe Stand on left side, still can’t get top leg straight in Standing Bow, still need to work on really locking elbows, still need to work on touching forehead to the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, still need to come down further in Half Moon… and on, and on.
The instructor starts by telling the two new people that their only goal, and everyone’s goal, is to have fun. And it is. Yoga is never about the postures. Yoga is about cultivating control over your life. And at that I, thanks to the challenge, feel ready to kick some serious asana. Bikram, you are as good as your word. You did, indeed, change my life in more ways than I could have thought. Namaste.