During the last six months I’ve felt like I’ve been standing in front of a tennis ball launcher without a freaking racket, or a good place to hide. In trying to avoid a meltdown, I was spending way too much of my precious post-major-breakup time on the couch with my cat, cursing the fact that Netflix underestimated how many episodes of Glee I could watch over the course of a week. Things got particularly dicey when I ran out of episodes of Ally McBeal and 30 Rock to watch; I was on a steady course leading to inevitable doom, or maybe just Couch Potato Land.
Knowing that I needed to make some changes coupled with an awesome Groupon deal, I decided to commit myself to thirty straight days of “Bikram’s torture chamber,” as he often refers to it. The yoga itself is 90 minutes, 105 degrees, 26 postures and two breathing exercises designed to work every system, every muscle in your body. It’s a big sweaty stretch-fest that transforms your body “from the inside out” leaving you rejuvenated, more flexible, and more in control of your life. I’ve been practicing this yoga off and on for nearly six years and have never done more than four days in a row, so the challenge of going 30 days sounded insane and exactly like what I needed to move out of Mope-ville.
I was REALLY, REALLY sore and found it difficult to walk, bend, sit, lie down, sneeze, roll my eyes, and drive safely. I couldn’t wake up completely until I was back in the hot room and I couldn’t fall asleep after class because I was so refreshed from all the oxygen I’m apparently not used to getting just by breathing normally. While I needed calories and electrolytes, thinking about food made me nauseous because of the detoxifying aspect of the yoga; I didn’t even want a string cheese, which is one of my favorite things in the world. It was definitely a challenge to drag myself to the studio when all I wanted was to return to the comfort of my couch, pour a glass of wine and watch something that was interesting enough to distract me from the fact that I needed to make some serious decisions.
This is where most of the magic happened. I started sleeping better, my appetite came back, and I could use all of my limbs normally. I mostly stopped missing my couch and am not as bitter about the fact that I have seen all the available seasons of 30 Rock. I started to feel like I was making some progress with the mope thing and was motivated to take a few chances that I wouldn’t normally take, like submitting an article for Persephone for the first time (!). Spending all that time (10.5 hours in a week) in the studio, looking at my reflection in the mirror inspired me to want to improve what I see, but love what’s already there. It started getting the voice of my ex out of my head, which was long overdue, replacing it with thoughts about how many more days can I go without doing laundry (trust me, this is a huge improvement). The feeling reminded me of Rilo Kiley’s “A Better Son/Daughter,” which became the theme song for the week and is an all around fabulous anthem when you’re on the verge of feeling hopeful or not feeling hopeful at all.
Oh, week three. So many highs and lows are tricky. The downsides first: I have road rage, I cried during a few classes, I’m tired of showering and doing laundry, my balance is off and I bruised the hell out of my leg while standing on a poorly made chair trying to kill a big spider. The upsides: I feel proud of the fact that I’ve kept my commitment, despite the fact I doubted myself. My body has grown stronger and more efficient, except for the occasional bouts of shoddy balance. I don’t know if I’ve lost weight, as I’m scale free, but I do see more muscle definition and feel more toned. I’ve loved that the discipline from the yoga practice has worked its way into other areas of my life; I cook things now, which is nice.
The challenge has been less about the yoga and more about setting a goal that, once accomplished, had compounding results. I wanted to say that I stuck with something extremely time-consuming and physically challenging for 30 days while simultaneously improving my overall health, taking a vacation from the stress of life planning, getting off the damn couch, and opening myself up to the possibility that I can be a badass when I let myself. There are many reasons to take on a challenge like this, but I believe we all owe it to ourselves to have some sort of “time-out” card that we can pull on the universe when things get out of hand and we need somewhere quiet to hide. Inner quiet during times of chaos and stress is pretty priceless. There are only 11 more days to go, so stay tuned!
What’s your method for finding your inner quiet?