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I practice yoga since 2010, and I like it so much I decided to write a post on the subject. I hope this will inspire you to take care of yourselves!

 

My first Bikram yoga class

 

When I try explaining the importance of yoga in my life to friends, it is sometimes difficult to find the right words. Although I constantly tell them that yoga isn’t only a series of complex poses and is not only about the physical body, I have rarely provided concrete examples to illustrate my point. Because I recently experienced an unusual moment of clarity while practising yoga, I thought it would be a great idea to share my experience in a blog post.

I had stopped taking yoga classes for about a year. Suddenly, I decided to try Bikram Yoga. Though I had already taken hot yoga classes, I had never taken Bikram lessons.

The class started. I was roasting. I breathed as best I could. I was so thirsty that I feared I would pass out. I began to wonder why on earth I came here. Aside from the excessive heat, all started well for the first set of postures. But suddenly, everything took a turn for the worst.

We were asked to do postures that I had never mastered and rarely tried in my Hatha Yoga classes. I felt awkward by the middle of the class. What’s worse, I realized that my excess weight reduced my flexibility significantly; my thighs were huge, my ankles, too weak, and my balance nonexistent. I raised my eyes and I saw slender women wearing bikinis. Each seemed to master the postures.

I suddenly remembered why I had stopped practising yoga: it made me feel fat and ugly. Incompetent. Inferior. I wondered what was wrong with me and why I wanted to endure this hell all over again.

I lied down on my belly to follow the group. I made faces because this posture is uncomfortable when you have breasts like mine. I then wondered if I was showing too much cleavage. Just when I told myself I was done with yoga, I lifted my head, arms, and legs, and I saw one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen in my life.

Two locks of my hair formed a perfect heart on my mat, just a few centimeters from my nose. My mouth dropped wide open when I was faced with this sign. It was surely not a coincidence.

I suddenly remembered why I had come. I learned that you do not reach a state of tranquility by comparing yourself to others. You will not make progress if you feel guilty about your weaknesses. You will not find happiness if your aim is to have an athlete’s body immediately and at all costs. You don’t need other people to encourage you to be proud of who you are. Despite your physical shortcomings, you can love and accept yourself for who you are.

I breathed deeply and felt overcome by a huge wave of love for myself. I wept with joy during my final Savasana.

This is what yoga means to me. I can connect with and learn to accept myself as I persevere to improve my skills one step at a time. I ultimately understood that I have a right to be proud of myself even though I’m not perfect. From now on, this is the attitude I will take on when I return to my Bikram Yoga classes. I don’t need to be judgemental and rude to myself. I promise to be patient and kind with myself. Most importantly, I will keep my head high. I can be proud of who I am.

Mariko Beaupré

Translator, copywriter, and yogini

This post was first published on My Virtual Yoga blog under Waht yoga means to me on February 4th, 2014.

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