An invitation had been extended to me, to take part in the Bikram advanced class at the studio where I practice. About a month after the initial invite, with some discussion between myself and the studio director, I finally gathered all of my courage, energy and togetherness and took it with me to an advanced session.
We started with a regular 8am beginner’s class to warm up beforehand. Having not attended a morning class in a while, I was feeling rather stiff (insert token ‘morning wood’ joke here) though after powering through those first ninety minutes, satisfied with my morning practice, I felt ready to take on the world – and nearly ready to throw myself in to the unknown waters of the advanced realm of Bikram that laid ahead.
I hadn’t researched or looked into anything about the class, so I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect or what it was all about. Two reasons for this: One, I honestly thought it would be years before I would have the honour of being invited to an advanced class. Second, in the back of my mind I knew that knowledge of advanced asanas (postures) and other aspects of the advanced practice were not in any way a prerequisite for acceptance into Bikram’s teacher training. And getting my arse down that path to get to teacher training has become somewhat of a priority for me. Ohhh, and third, I am a phenomenal procrastinator when I really want to be – and I’ll be honest here, the opportunity presented to me has been rather intimidating. So, loving surprises as I do, I decided to wait and not create any preconceptions of the class, keeping my first experience an unexpected mystery.
One thing is for sure, it was unexpected. Memories of my abysmal performance in my first beginner’s class, which I thought could never be rivalled, came flooding back with a likeness within the first fifteen minutes. I am all strength. My flexibility is progressing at a great rate, though there is still a lot left to be desired in that department. There were a few times where I found myself looking in the mirror during one of the many postures and I just saw a big pile of sweaty contorted mess and couldn’t help but laugh at myself. Rebeckh at one point turns to me and exclaims “you look beautiful!” What with my right leg unsuccessfully directed behind my right shoulder and my hands not quite meeting each other in ‘prayer’ above my head and topping over to the side… Hahaha! What a sight. No. Guys, I really did not look beautiful. In any way possible. Unless it happened to be opposite day that day. But man, was it funny!
I loved it. I loved the struggle, the post-class elation, the push into new physical and mental territory, the quiet defeats. From the single class I could feel parts of my body being used that I never even knew could move. It was two hours of awesome.
There is a huge leap moving from the beginner’s to the advanced practice. Larger than I had anticipated. By the time I managed to organise myself to get de-sweatified, showered and dressed after class had finished, it was well after midday and I sailed out into the real world in a relaxed, dopey sort of haze (aka yoga brain). Every part of my body had been pushed to its limit and pushed to where said parts should be. I don’t know if there is anything else in the world where one can experience being so tragically uncoordinated, intimidated and exhausted, yet come out on top at the end feeling like a million.
I feel privileged to have been offered this experience of the advanced Bikram class. It cements in me what I already knew. I love who I am. I am a good person with good intentions. And this practice makes me a better me. I am in love with this and no one can destroy it or take it away. And there is a bit of magic in that hot room, I swear. This is me and mine.