Several months ago, I decided to try Bikram Yoga. I had previously been a professional boxer and trained in MMA but after some life given brutality, I opted for a more peaceful and introspective work out. I had heard many great things about the yoga but I had also heard that it was amazingly intense and not for everyone. I knew from the latter that I would probably love it and I did. That first day in what is affectionately called Bikram’s torture chamber by the instructors, I was pushed past any physical and emotional limits that I had. Although being in fairly good shape, the heat combined with the intensity of the postures had me re-assessing everything in my life up until that moment. The bottle of wine I had the night before, the cigarettes I had smoked in high school, the failed relationship that I was now out of, it was as if I was dying and my whole life flashed before my eyes as sweat clouded my vision. For those 90 minutes, I was in an awakened state of meditation. Thoughts flooded and attempted to distract me but my focus always came back to the room and my reflection in the mirror.
I practiced for several months at least 4 times a week and then I fell off the yoga wagon for a bit. At first, I did not see or feel the true effects of my practice. I went back to my typical and common way of coping. I went out with friends all the time, drank, partied until the wee hours of the morning and began a descent into the self-destructive side of my psyche. Sure I was having fun if that is what you would call it, I call it running away and not dealing but at a certain point it became unbearable to walk around like a zombie drone and pretend like I was fine. After a little over a month of nothing but party monster, I had an epiphany. Insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Some people will always run from their problems, whether emotionally or geographically, I see it all the time and hell I even tried it but at the end of the day wherever you are, that is where you are. The real solution resides within yourself, not a foreign country, not at the bottom of a bottle and not in someone else’s hands.
I have decided to try to put myself on a 30 day challenge of daily yoga and no alcohol. I started several days ago and I already feel more empowered. My instructor Erinn said the other day something that rings true in the hot room and out,”No one can steal your peace.” In the context of the room it means that regardless of the instructor or the sweaty person next to you making weird noises, you are responsible for maintaining your own meditation and practice. The sweat dripping down your face, the fatigue present all over your body, the heat, all of those things can be overcome and even ignored if your true focus remains on yourself. And this is so relevant to everyday life. That person that cuts you off in traffic, that boss that does not appreciate you, the douche that broke your heart, they can not steal your peace because once found it is yours to have and hold and cherish. I know now that my peace is found in that 107 degree room and for 90 minutes a day, no one can steal it. I look in the mirror and watch my body accomplish things I never thought possible and I have watched my body transform in ways I had not imagined. My once bulky muscle is becoming lean and long, my abs are returning to a shape I only saw in them right before a fight and my skin glows as if I were in my teens again. There is no doubt in my mind that this yoga works miracles inside and out.
I am so elated to have returned to my practice and to also be amping it up. For many years I chose to try to numb my wild and powerful mind. I could not control it and it seemed the only method to tame it was to dose it with some sort of substance. Now I know that all that numbing did me no good and that I have a healthy way to cooperate with it now. I also realized that controlling anything is an illusion, my mind is strong, I should use it to help me, we should be one. Bikram has helped me immensely with this notion. I can not impose myself on anyone or anything, including myself. I can only seek a positive cohesion and in that there is peace. During my practice, negative thoughts float through my mind but never remain. Something will pop up and just float by, no attachment, no judgement just there it is a thought and then it is gone. But as I lay in savasana at the end of class, my only thoughts are that of peace and accomplishment and how I can use this feeling and have it transcend into my life outside the room. I truly love it and look forward to the next month of struggle and enlightenment.
“No one can steal your peace!”