Out of Retirement, into the Hot Room.
*Originally posted April 21, 2016
Earlier this year when I was eating all kinds of things and blogging about it obsessively, my friend Adam was visiting. “I dunno, I think I might be retired.” I told him “I rarely practice anymore and the last time I taught was in July of 2015.” I kinda liked the sound of it. Retired at 30 from one career. I didn’t quit. I retired. That time in my life is gone and now it was time for me to take up new hobbies new jobs. Now that I’m retired I can move to Florida and focus on playing Euchre and being an official Wal-Mart greeter. Or in my case, move to London, do Crossfit, and focus on stand up comedy. When I talk about retiring I’m talking about my former career as a Bikram Yogainstructor. I started practicing in 2004 when I moved to New York and got my teaching certification immediately after graduating university in 2008. Four years of higher education to basically majored in yoga. Which has turned out to be more lucrative than my Musical Theatre diploma that is not on display anywhere but in a box in my mother’s basement.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve felt myself pulling away from the 26 postures two breathing exercises done in 90 minutes in a heated room. And when I moved to London I was no longer affiliated with a studio so it was easier to stop going. But recently I’ve noticed something horrible is happening to my body. I’m getting stiff. Certain postures and movements that I would just do with out thinking now have to be carefully eased into. I’ve transformed into some sort on muggle who’s didn’t spend 12 years of their life touching their toes for a living. I realized when I walked away from yoga that certain flexibility was going to leave me. The splits were going to go first as I’ve always had tight hamstrings and it’s been a lot of work to maintain them. Deep back-bends would be gone too because nowhere in my daily life is anyone asking me to “Look at the wall behind me and go way back, more back, fall back.” But other small, insignificant flexibility that I never had to work for and alway just had; those are starting to fade. Maybe it’s the three half-marathons and marathon trainings but I can no longer sit my hips between my heels for fixed firm pose, let alone go back. And crossing my arms in eagle now pulls and stretches the middle of my back. For years as a teacher I’d watch students struggle in those simple postures and wonder, “Why can’t they do that?” And now, I’m one of those people. I’m losing simple mobility, and that loss makes me realize that I’m not just getting older, but I’m aging.
No, this won’t do. Growing up is fine but breaking down I’m not ok with at all. So, I guess it’s time to come out of retirement and get my fabulous ass back in the hot room. And what better way to start that than a Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge. The goal is simple do 30 Bikram classes in 30 days. I’m allowed to miss two days, but if I do, (and I will) I need to make them up by doing a two classes on another day.
I started yesterday, and the class went exactly how I expected. I know these postures well so I know how to pace myself not to get overwhelmed in the heat. I did every pose but I was stiff, and even thoughI knew my back bends wouldn’t be where they once were they are more shallow that I thought they might be.
As I go through this, I’ll blog about it daily because if I don’t I probably won’t finish the task, and besides, what fun is a challenge if not everyone know’s you’re doing it. After completing day one I highly doubt I’ll get back to my most flexible self in 30 days but I’ll my joints and muscles will hopefully be more supple than they are now. Only one way to find out and what ever happens it’s ok cuz; Hey, it’s a yoga practice not a yogaperformance right!…right?
*poses featured in this article are performed by Erik Cummings and Emily Vartanian at Bikram Yoga Harlem in New York