My Bikram Yoga Journy at 2.5 years of practice

Doing a Bikram Yoga class for me after two and a half years of steady practice, is not any easier than the very first day. Different things are now harder, that first day it was just dealing with the heat in the room. That first month I was just trying to figure out how to move my body. Now there is a whole pantheon of minor details not to mention riding the edge of a panic attack through the entire class.

When I started I was on heavy beta blockers to control my stress level, blood pressure and the panic attacks it caused or that caused it… hard to say. Things seemed under control at that time. I could be a rock star in yoga class, I could laugh at it, and myself without trying. In the last year, I have been coming off of the meds, now I only take them when absolutely necessary. My blood pressure is down to a reasonable level and I have only had a two uncontrollable episodes of sheer terror that is a panic attack within the last year.

Class has helped me learn to control them believe it or not. I feel as if 75% of the time I am 30 seconds away from a full blown panic attack while I am in class, the other 25% it is looming less than 10 seconds away. I have learned what to do during that upper 25%, I stop and breath first and foremost. If I need to, I kneel down. I have a textured mat, that helps a lot, i put my fingers into the holes of the mat and focus on the feelings under their tips. Once I have traced my fingers over the pattern a few times it calms me down and I can get back into the class. I have learned to look only at my mat during these times, as looking at the irregular bricks in the wall, the crumpled towels of those next to me, or the rack of disheveled extra mats makes my OCD crazy and that just compiles into the pending panic as I can not run over there and straighten the mats.

Injuries have also plagued me this last 6 months. I knew as I got more in shape, and my body shifted with the loss of weight the body would go through some ‘reorganization’ as Bikram calls it. Even though I never weighed over 230, and am now down to about 160 I still see a 300 pound woman in the mirror looking back at me. I know that it is not true but in my minds eye it sadly is and I beat myself up for it. This year so far there have been three broken toes, and elbow strain and a spinal twist with a bulging disc that have taken me back a step or two in strength and flexibility. Rehabbing injuries in Bikram is tough as you want to keep up with the class, you have the demanding dialog in your head and one’s own personal ego doesn’t help at all. All of this contributes to that 25% of the class being less then 10 seconds from a panic attack.

I have no idea why, but something in me keeps propelling me forward. I get up, I go to class. I hate it – I love it. It is the only thing that has ever worked for me. On days that I can be nice to me, I notice that there is a start to definition in my arms. I feel Ab muscles in my tummy when I lay on the floor and feel hip bones. I might even think I see ribs from time to time. Keeping up my self loathing of my body has now had to take another step. I now wear just a jogging bra type top and shorts so i can more readily see my fat self in the mirror. I even went to longer shorts/pants to not be able to see the lack of rolls in my thighs as they are disappearing. Maybe I do these things to keep myself motivated to keep going, or maybe I am just a sick fuck, I can not tell.

To class I go, I do my yoga. What I can on that day. I block out the instructor when necessary, (sorry N &J) I breath, I cry, I fight my way through each class. Right now, 2.5 years into it – it sucks. I know it is worth it, I know I am getting healthier both mentally and physically. I know as I strengthen class will get better again and I will feel more of a desire to go then a need to go.