I got hooked after regularly taking a few bikram yoga classes last spring. I immediately canceled my gym membership to join a studio. Weeks after canceling my gym membership, I canceled my trainer who I worked with for five years. Thank goodness he didn’t take it personally, for which I was grateful.
After seven months of a regular practice, I can finally articulate why I feel so committed to bikram and why this yoga is my only form of exercise.
I am present in the moment.
There are days when this practice kicks my ass and I feel like jelly and can’t seem to hold any posture or run out of the room screaming as if I was on fire. There are days when my knee is does not cooperate and screams out in pain during a pose and I have to back off with a wince and an irregular breath. There are days when I feel strong and solid yet supple. There are days when my body opens and goes further than it ever did even if it is only a quarter of an inch. Regardless of what my practice is that day, I remain present in that moment.
Despite how hard bikram can be, I still look forward to going. I never EVER felt that way about going to the gym or seeing my trainer and now I know why. Every time I ran on a treadmill, pedaled on a bike, or climbed stairs to nowhere, I tried to forget what I was doing. I watched TV, listened to my ipod, read a book/magazine/newspaper, attempted to solve a puzzle. I didn’t want to focus on the monotony of movement so I diverted my attention to something else. My mind and body were disconnected and I was bored and uninspired.
It is impossible to be disconnected during my practice. My mind is aware but does not think. It listens to the teacher and heeds my body. My body moves with intention and purpose. I exhibit faith, compassion, openness, listening, forgiveness, and fortitude. This must be why we call this practice a moving meditation. It requires that we dig deep into ourselves, in a place that houses our spirit, our strength, our divinity.
I can never go back to a gym and I can never again exercise in a cold room.