Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 60: Bikram Yoga Challenge - I finished! No foolin'.

From Bike Run Yoga

It's no joke, I finished my 60 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge today! Just as a reminder, I had to complete a week of "doubles" to prepare for teacher training so I really had to do 67 classes in 60 days, not just the regular 60. I did 10 days of doubles total, 3 of those were to make up classes I missed. Was it hard? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Definitely. I have to give credit also to those that actually do a class each day, that is SOME dedication!  Taking a double when you miss a class is hard but dedicating each day to class is equally as hard if not harder. Either way, a challenge is exactly what the name implies, a challenge. Over the last 60 days, there has been so much growth, not only in strength and flexibility but also in self awareness and personal growth. You never know what a challenge like this can do for you.

Here is a small example of why I know taking class everyday has helped me. My running time. During the challenge I ran in three 5K runs. The first one was Dash for the Beads and I finished it in 37:21, my second race was the St. Patty Day 5K and my time was 3 minutes faster at 34:28 and my most recent 5K was the Butterfly Boogie that I completed at a personal record of 32:55. Only in long distances like marathons is my leg strength an issue. At a distance of 5K, my legs can handle it, it is my lungs that typically give out. I use to breathe in and out in short breathes and would be exhausted almost the second I started. Now, with having learned how to breathe in yoga, I can breathe better and relax myself while running and still push myself to go the distance.

If you are wondering, no, I didn't do really anything else besides go to yoga every day. In addition to the three 5K races, I ran 1 half marathon but in general I didn't do any other exercise like the gym or other cardio. All my improvements are strictly from going to yoga on a regular, consistent basis.

There are probably a few things lately that have contributed to what I would consider my recent personal awareness and growth but much of it has to do directly with yoga and probably all of it indirectly has to do with yoga. I went home to see an old family friend about 3/4 of the way through the challenge. I hadn't seen him in years and his first comment was, "wow, you look 16 again!" What a nice compliment right?! My dad and I were talking about it later and he said it wasn't so much that I actually looked 16, it was more that the stress in my face was gone and I looked happy. That is yoga.

I've learned to let go of things too. Ok, not 100%, it is still a work in progress, but I have learned to be a little more mellow and not let certain things annoy much. There are so many things that can happen in and out of the yoga room that can annoy someone, especially me. Inside the room there are the bendy people, the people with extremely large towels, the people that breathe heavily, the people that fling sweat on you, the people that don't move their mat up or back, the people that for whatever reason stick their feet in your face....or how about the people in Locust that sway from side to side and swing their feet everywhere? There is the smell, the heat, the humidity, the teacher, the sweat from the earlier class, the fact that the person in front of you won't scoot over just an inch so  you can see yourself in the mirror...or the person next to you in really inappropriate clothing. Or the person that gets up and walks out all the time, or someone that has a cell phone in the room....or the exhaust won't work, the teacher won't open the door, the teacher opens the door too much, my towel smells...or is that me that smells? And where are the birds? I mean, there is A LOT to overcome in yoga! Little by little, I am working on letting go of my issues with all these things. Going to yoga everyday helps with that because I am faced with at least a handful of these issues each class.

So the next time you see me in class and you wonder if the class is easy because I go so often, just know I struggle with every pose, every day and I struggle with my mind and all the external forces (see above) every class, every day. Yoga is never easy but it is always rewarding.

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