In September, I did a “30 classes in 30 days” yoga challenge.
I failed … on day 27.
Let me start at the beginning…
This past summer, I ran into an old friend while fist pumping on the dance floor of an Ottawa night club. We exchanged hugs and “What are you DOING these days?” salutations. She told me she was now a yoga instructor and I just had to come try one of her classes. “Have you ever done Bikram Yoga?” she said. “That’s hot right? Ya, I’ve done it a bunch of times,” I said nonchalantly.
And so it was settled, I was going to attend her class.
It was true what I’d said, I had done hot yoga. Many times. But it was more of a casual hobby. You know, like the day after you accidentally eat a Big Mac at 3 a.m. post-bar and wake up hating yourself, determined you need to do something active to counter balance your terrible decision? Well in those
(rare) circumstances, off to the yoga studio I’d go. Sweat it out, meditate, feel great.
Big Mac be gone.
Bikram Yoga, however, is NOT your average hot yoga.
Wikipedia says: “Bikram Yoga sessions run for exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (≈ 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%.”
In other words: Bikram Yoga is torture in a chamber of death.
So, after speaking with my friend, locating the school, and selecting a class, I naturally met up with a different friend for a beer before hand…. Yes, this was my first mistake.
I then realized I was going to be late and jetted off to class, RUNNING the last three blocks to the studio. (Second mistake).
I arrived mildly out of breath, but was already wearing my yoga suit. So, I paid the fee for a week of unlimited yoga (I would obviously love it and come back, right?) and rushed to take my place in class.
Well …. an ambulance was almost called.
I’m not joking.
“Catherine, Catherine lie down for a minute.” Was the instruction I was given about 25 minutes into the 90 minute class when my face drained of colour and I was seeing black spots on the ground.
“I’ve never seen someone go SO pale in class before,” said my friend.
What can I say, I’m a natural.
Obviously there were factors involved. The beer, the sprint, my overconfidence – but ladies and gentlemen (seriously, tonnes of dudes in the class), let me tell you, Bikram Yoga is no joke. It’s HARD work in intense heat, with little breaks AND you’re not even allowed to drink water for the first 20 minutes.
But, that is exactly why I went back to class the very next day after my near death experience. It’s a WORKOUT and I knew it would get me back into the shape I wanted to be in.
After about a month of going 3-4 times a week, the school put on a 30 Day Challenge. You do 30 classes in 30 days and you get a free month of unlimited yoga ($150 value). “Are you going to do it?” said my friend the instructor. “Sure, why not,” I thought. “I mean, I’m already going a lot. It’ll push me to come even more, and if I fail? Who cares.”
So I put my name on the list and felt good about myself. “You are a champion,” I thought….
Until I strolled into the school on my next visit to find a GIANT sign tracking everyone’s progress. If I failed, everyone would know. Sh*t. What was I thinking?
They say, (“they” being experts on life obstacles, apparently) that if you embark on a challenge such as this, you should tell everyone you know. That way you will be more shamed if you fail.
…I shouted from the rooftops. Posted it on Facebook. Basically live tweeted my journey. Had the perfect response every time someone asked me: “What’s new?” … I even told my cat.
There was no way out.
Here I must interject that I lead, what some would call, a busy lifestyle. The real challenge was not the yoga, it was the re-arranging of my schedule to account for almost three hours of yoga time into my everyday. “Three hours?” you ask. “I thought they were 90 minute classes?” Right you are, but, I have to leave my house 30 minutes before a class starts and don’t get home (after showering, etc) until about 45 minutes after. Cray.
Somehow, though, it managed to be smooth sailing… until I went away for a weekend. That’s right, I missed THREE consecutive days. “Nbd though,” my super hero self told my uneasy self. It just means doing three days of doubles. That’s three hours a day of yoga (+ travel time) for three days, if you’re not following. No. Big. Deal., right?
Wrong. Wrong. So wrong. Doing a double is not only time consuming but slightly insane. Doing a physical workout in 40 degree heat with 40 other people for 3 hours of your day is HARD. But I did it. I was determined.
And then came the parade.
The yoga studio is downtown, so finding parking can sometimes be tricky. But not on the weekends, on the weekends it’s usually a breeze. So it was quite a surprise, on day 25, when EVERY PARKING SPOT and EVERY parking lot in all of downtown was taken or full on a Sunday morning. “WHAT THE HECK,” was my (censored) thought.
I drove around for 35 minutes… and missed the class.
Later, I found out there was a parade for fallen police officers downtown. That’s why every parking spot was taken. That’s why I was down another day. That’s why I needed to do ANOTHER double.
With five days left and the end in sight, I knew I could still do it. “If I do a double Tuesday I’ll be okay.” So I showed up for the 6 a.m. (that’s six o’clock in the morning, when it’s still pitch black out and even the raccoons are asleep) class. I woke up at 5, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, ate a protein bar and pulled on the handle of the yoga building at 5:45. “Why is it locked?” I thought. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” were my next thoughts as I realized I’d never actually gone to a 6 a.m. Tuesday class and maybe they didn’t exist. They didn’t exist. Only day of the week a 6 a.m. class isn’t offered. My lip trembled. I seriously almost burst into tears in the middle of the abandoned street. A hobo looked at me with concern.
So as Wednesday rolled around, I was looking at five classes in three days to successfully finish my challenge. I didn’t falter. “I’ve come so close.”
And then Meghan needed to be taken to the hospital to look after the leg she broke while the nuts were reunited at a cottage. Of course I could take her. She’s my best friend, she’s in need and the appointment would be done in plenty of time for me to get to the 4 p.m. class.
We were done at the hospital by 2:30 p.m. I set off for the parking lot – that’s when an old lady approached me. “I can’t find my car,” she said hopelessly. “Can you help me?” Of course I could help her. This poor lady, who had just had something done to her hip, had no clue where she’d parked her car on the four level parking garage. We searched. It took about 45 minutes. We found it.
At that point I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the class. I knew I couldn’t do three classes the next day to make up for it. I knew I had failed. But I didn’t really care.
I tried and I didn’t let it completely take over my life. I kept my priorities straight. I chose helping this sweet old lady over my own $150 yoga reward.
I knew I had done the right thing, but I was disappointed. I had come so close. And worst of all, I now had to face ALL the people asking me if I finished it.
“No,” I would grumble. “I failed with three days left.” … I was always met with “OMGs” and words of encouragement like, “That’s still unbelievable.” But I was bummed. Especially because I had planned on blogging about my experience – my 30 day transformation.
It wasn’t until I went out for drinks with my two favourite men (roommates) that they told me I was silly for not still blogging about it. “More people could relate to you failing, than you finishing.”
So here I am, four months later, finally able to talk about my failure, in an attempt to encourage you, our beloved readers, to set a challenge for yourself. You may not finish it as completely as you wanted to, but I went from someone who had never done Bikram Yoga, to someone who did it almost everyday for an entire month. I felt amazing, I had lost weight, I had toned my whole body – and most of all, I wasn’t actually a failure.
My yoga school is putting on another 30 day challenge, this time, without a reward, just for personal accomplishment. And you can BET that I smiled when I saw my name on that daunting poster.
So wish me luck, nuts, and better yet, join me for a class.
Because in a nutshell, doing something to better yourself is never a failure.
I will be blogging about all the things I learned during my SECOND 30 day challenge next month. Stay tuned!