89 people are doing the challenge. It has taken to the 2nd week for any of us to acknowledge each other. But finally some of us are talking on a regular basis, congratulating each other as we chalk up the classes. Analysing our aches and pains. The rooms are packed each day. Water runs down the mirrors, and it is the cumulation of all the sweat of everyone in the room.
The leader board is filling up with little red dots, and everyone (including me) is noticing that some people seem to be doing a lot of Bikram yoga classes. I mean a lot – up to 4 classes a day.
Given the dehydration that occurs, I was at first a bit concerned for their physical well-being. How do you keep hydrated if you are doing so many classes, often one after another? And as big a fan as I am, I don’t know that this level of Bikram yoga is not that good for you physically. I do doubles now and again (alright, I admit, have been known to do a week of doubles, just to see what it does). And I know how tender the muscles get, and how easy it can be to overstretch.
But I noticed something else when I should have been concentrating on myself. These people barely completed any asana to its full expression. From Pada-Hastasana to Kapalbhati in Vajrasana, the ‘hares’ often took long breaks in the room, and did not seem to be – well – present. It seemed as if the reason for the yoga challenge had been lost in translation – it had just become a competition.
By day 13, two people had completed the 30 classes in 30 days – and we never saw them again.
I started to ponder the reason you do the 30 day challenge – Bikram is often quoted as saying, “30 days to change your body, 60 days to change your life”.
Why am I doing the 30 day challenge and why were they doing the 30 day challenge?
I am doing the 30 day challenge, because every year (often twice), I feel the need to refocus my energy, rebalance my soul. Every day, it creates a rhythm where I know for 1.5 hours there is nothing else to focus on but myself, my challenges, my issues. No other yoga has ever done that for me (although other forms of yoga have done lots of other really good stuff). To observe the emotions as they scud across my body and mind, to note from where they come, and to have those ‘aha’ moments for which Bikram yoga is famous.
There are always some great side benefits, some of which are physical, I seem to have better muscle definition, lose centimetres around waist, butt and so on.
I am the ‘tortoise’, one class/one day at a time.
I am sitting outside the room, after another session, and someone sits down next to me and surveys the leaderboards (we have three). She comments that some people have already finished, and this seems a bit strange.
I look at the leaderboard – before I can stop myself, I blurt “I wonder – what are they running away from?”
I am running to myself when I do the 30 day Bikram yoga challenge.