If anyone ever asked me what the chance was of me spending time in a yoga studio, I would say with confidence, “Zero chance. Impossible.” Yoga was something that made every part of me afraid. It made my heart beat rapidly, and made my anxiety take the wheel. I was so intimidated and I claimed I hated it. That way, nobody could try to talk me into it. But I wasn’t afraid of yoga, I was afraid of everything that would surface while I spent that time with myself.
Finally, a friend challenged me to take one class each day for a week at various studios, just to see what was possible. And every single class, it wasn’t just the time with me I struggled with, it was the feeling of not being welcomed: that is, until I found West Coast Sweat. Now, in reality, I have zero natural ability—I can’t even do a single pose without my knee completely bent, or even come close to touching my forehead yet—as well as very little interest in being quiet and still. I do have something I am wildly passionate about, though, and Bikram yoga gave that to me: being alive.
Bikram yoga is a huge challenge for me, physically, emotionally and mentally. In my life, existing moment to moment has been a battle as well. I never stopped showing up for life, so I asked myself, what if I did the same for Bikram. (We get to choose to show up and be open to all that is personal growth!)
I live with a handful of severe chronic illnesses. I have been terminal a few times, and have, thankfully, overcome those.
I live with these illnesses due to a medical mistake. I cannot digest anything solid. I have a paralyzed digestive track and my nerve endings do not work, and all my muscles are paralyzed throughout the entire digestive track. My organs even started to fail after my stomach’s paralysis because of overcompensation. I have lived on tube feedings, juicing, and protein shakes for 27 yrs now. (You read that right: 27 years.)
I have had my entire colon removed, and parts of my small intestine, stomach, esophagus, and a few other smaller organs. My entire small intestine is currently failing and it’s just a waiting game.
I’ve lost pregnancies due to scar tissue from my organ removals, causing ruptured ectopics and more painful losses as well.
This reality led me down a path of having a tortured relationship with my body. I want to love and appreciate it for never giving up, for getting me here today, but living with symptoms and intense pain constantly wears me down, and living without my dream of mamahood makes me want to blame myself.
But when I walk into the Long Beach Bikram studio, I LET GO OF EVERYTHING. And not only can I, the instructors here encourage me to do so in a loving, compassionate way. And only two of them actually know my story.
If I’m being honest, at first I want to run the hell out. I panic over how long each pose will be and dwell over the stories I tell myself about how 90 minutes feels. Yet, despite those thoughts, I walk myself to a spot facing myself in the mirror and something just clicks. I see a woman in the mirror who is a warrior. She is beautiful beyond her pain. She is strong. And I think about how, a year ago, I was in a hospital bed, screaming my heart out at everyone because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
I look directly into my eyes in the mirror and commit to myself to do just one second at a time. If I can let my body show me what it is capable of and honor that, I will truly fall in love with myself again.
And every single Bikram class I do just that.
I’ve learned to lean in and love myself fully. Thank you, Bikram Hot Yoga Long Beach.