“Give me 60 days and I’ll change your life.”
The last 60 days have definitely changed me. In September I completed a Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge (click to read) and my husband, Wayne, and I decided since we were half-way towards the 60 Day Challenge we would continue working to complete it…we’re half way there, why stop.
Bikram Yoga Tempe’s website states: “Complete 52 classes in 60 consecutive days (one day off per week). Your life, your body, your mental attitude, your confidence… will dramatically improve. How you eat, how you sleep, and how you treat others will also change for the better!”
Participating in the Bikram Yoga 60 Day Challenge was both physically and emotionally challenging to me. When Wayne and I decided to begin the challenge we had 32 sessions under our belt and had been practicing for 1.5 months. I was still in the early phase of feeling that even though I was struggling with the heat and getting into the postures I could get through a class. [A Bikram Yoga class is 90 minutes long in a heated room with a sequence of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. You can read about the postures and see pictures at the Bikram Yoga site.]
There were a lot of things that were challenging for me ranging from my flexibility, weak muscles, breathing, confidence, and mental clarity. In the beginning, everything was hitting me from every direction. Mentally I was beating myself up. As I lay in Savasana at the end of a session I would silently cry because I was frustrated with my physical abilities. I couldn’t get through Half-Moon pose without giving my arms a rest. I could barely balance on my right leg for a few seconds and often times my ankle would be sore from trying Standing Head to Knee or Eagle pose. Lying on my back was painful. In Bow pose I couldn’t reach back enough to grab my ankles. I could go on. With almost every posture I was dissatisfied with myself and coming six times a week only intensified these emotions and the feeling that I cannot do this.
Somehow, I continued. After each class I would unload my feelings to my husband. He was supportive. He acknowledged that he too had some issues and he helped me to see this 60 day challenge in a different way. I began to realize that the challenge I had signed up for was not simply committing to work out for a set length of time but was to face an internal battle I was having with myself.
I listened more intensely to the instructors not only hear the steps to get into the posture but also to take their advice to let go of the expectations I have of myself, to exist within that specific space in time and not reflect on how I performed the previous day, to acknowledge and thank myself for being there, and to remember that I control my feelings and thoughts. Wait…I can control feeling dissatisfied with myself? Of course, I know this. “You control yourself”. I tell my kids this all the time. But in that hot room trying to bend my sweaty self into odd positions I lost focus.
I began hearing in class to not label the experience. It wasn’t a hard class, it wasn’t an easy class, it was neither. Sure it was hot, it will always be hot. But what I had was simply a class. I came to class. I began to feel thankful and proud of myself for being there even if I sat out of the whole floor series.
When we completed our 30 Day Challenge I felt mentally and emotionally stronger. I even noticed changes in my physical abilities. Although every day was different I could hold my arms up longer, standing on my right leg didn’t hurt as much, and I was able to lie on my back. Yes, I still struggled with confidence but recognizing small changes in my abilities helped me to focus during class.
Slowly, physical soreness had set in.
At the peak of my soreness I felt physically weak. It seemed as if everything I had initially battled with was coming back at me like a snowball rolling down a hill getting larger and larger each day. In class I found it challenging to find my focus and twice I felt like walking out of class and giving up. About this time Wayne and I believed we had one more week to fully complete the 60 Day Challenge. After the second night of feeling defeated I was talking with the studio staff about which day the following week we would complete the challenge. Much to my surprise we had completed it the night before!
Wayne and I misunderstood the challenge to be six classes a week for 10 weeks for a total of 60 classes. We didn’t pay attention to the “52 classes in 60 consecutive days” portion of the challenge but instead focused on making sure we took our one day off a week. Although I felt a sense of accomplishment, because of all the soreness I was experiencing, I felt more relieved that I could drop back from six classes a week to four days a week (I’m still participating in the studio’s 11th anniversary challenge to take four classes a week for 11 weeks).
I happily took a two day break before returning to class. The break helped me to soak in the accomplishment of completing the 60 Day Challenge and to realize that my body has also changed.
Physically I feel stronger.
I can hold my arms above my head, stretch sideways in Half Moon pose.
I can squat into Awkward pose and pull my leg above the other in Eagle pose.
I can lift my leg behind me and, depending on the day, charge forward in Standing Bow pose.
I can hold Balancing Stick pose.
I can almost touch my forehead to the ground while in Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose.
I can attempt Triangle pose.
I can grab my ankles in Bow pose.
I can stretch backward and, depending on the day, grab my heels in Camel pose (this is my favorite pose).
I realize now that I can.