One hundred and five degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty percent humidity. And it’s the middle of January in Omaha.
This is my first Bikram yoga class. Our yoga instructor, Browyn, just told us that it’s “party time,” a.k.a. time for a water break.
I—and my health—sort of flew under the radar for these first months of winter. Like many others out there, I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Since I’m from straight-up Tennessee where the sun doesn’t stop shining in the winter, these Omaha winters are quite challenging for me.
I have a SAD lamp made by generous friends. I take vitamin D when I remember. But when I couldn’t snap out of this middle-of-winter-it-won’t-stop-snowing-I-can’t-warm-up funk, I had to figure out what was going on with my body.
We’ve all heard of the connection between mind, body, and soul. But how often do we actually try and make it connected?
Instead, we often stay busy and at times promote busyness as a virtue. But when I landed in this 90-minute yoga class, everything I thought about being busy or swamped disappeared into several puddles of sweat. I had heard about Bikram yoga from other friends and, in typical Jara research style, I did every search possible for all things Bikram. I had to prepare myself to attend class. I brought two towels, my yoga mat, water. I didn’t eat anything before class. And drank a lot of water.
I stood in a room of strangers looking into the mirror. You can’t hide in yoga class. I saw the new curves on my body, pulled down my shirt and began to listen to my instructor. For 90 minutes, my body moved in ways that I never thought it would. Certain poses are harder with my thighs. There are some that are easier because of my stronger back (thanks to the heavy box-lifting at Trader Joe’s). But by the end of the class, I’ve become that person I didn’t think I’d ever become. I LOVE YOGA.
I say I practice yoga instead of doing it.
It is a practice. Just like making that mind-body-soul connection. It takes practice to build this new grounded muscle memory. Instead of my heart racing with anxiety connected to a ridiculous situation at work, my heart races during the tree pose. I find it fascinating that there are yoga poses that get your heart rate up and actually help in making your heart stronger. Meanwhile, there are work/life situations that get your heart rate up and cause anxiety.
So, with my newfound love for yoga, I signed up for a two-week newbie deal at One Tree Yoga. I visited Lotus for their Yin yoga—it’s something like a massage, but even better. And your first class is free! Win-win!
For two weeks, I learned more about my body than I have in a while. Where did that tight back come from? Oh—standing awkwardly for a few hours. Why are my legs twitching? Oh—new move.
My experience in working out, getting in shape, and being healthy has always been attached to me in a guilt-driven way…a way that drags me to the gym in that bad mood. But yoga wakes me up each morning, and I look forward to it. I arrive and leave class with smiles (except that one time I threw up in the bathroom—I blame it on not eating enough throughout the day, but I digress).
As I approach my thirtieth birthday, I celebrate that yoga and mindfulness found me at the perfect time. I’ve talked about yoga for such a long time. But it was never the right time. But now it is.
Finding an exercise or practice that engages mind, body, and soul has been essential to my growth as a person, woman, wife, sister, daughter, friend, coworker. Finding an exercise that does not make me roll my eyes but excites me…I count that as a win for health.