Before I start a rumour, Bikram Choudhury is not taking the challenge to Live Below The Line this week, at least not as far as I know, but it might be fun to lobby him to take part next year. No, the title refers to me doing a Bikram Yoga class whilst living below the line. I took up one of the offers a while back for Bikram Yoga in Soho, and I needed to use it up, so that’s my excuse.
Bikram Yoga! Love it or hate it, anyone that’s ever tried it will know that it takes discipline. I have a love-hate relationship with Bikram yoga. I’m strangely drawn to it, which gets me in the door, I hate it during a class, I hate the changing rooms and sweaty, sticky clothes after a class, but I love the feeling I get afterwards. So in this way, it’s not too dissimilar to living below the line: I’m strangely drawn to it, really struggle doing it, but will love the feeling afterwards, partly due to relief, partly due to achievement, but mostly because I’ll have raised money for a cause that I feel passionate about, that will give women and children in Swaziland a slightly better life.
One thing you notice about living on £1 a day is that choices become very limited. I actually had a choice this evening to pass by the Bikram yoga studio on my way home, or go in and challenge myself a bit further. God knows I like a challenge, and maybe God had a hand in my experience tonight, and nudged me with my choice to turn right rather than left, into the studio.
I was a little late getting to class, after struggling to find a free locker etc, and there was only space left, which was right at the front of the class. If any of you have ever been to Bikram yoga, you’ll know that the front of the class is reserved for pros, not part-timers, like my good self. No offence to any dancers out there, but it’s usually occupied by dancer types with perfect bodies and a ridiculous ability to create shapes with their bodies that almost shouldn’t be allowed! It is certainly not for the likes of me, who due to past injuries, battles with many of the postures and is the total opposite of flexible. Stiff is a much better description for me.
The front row also means that you’re right in front of the mirror. There’s nowhere to hide. Total exposure. You really do meet with yourself there. My insecurities were spinning round my head as I tried to stay composed and stop my mind wondering. I don’t usually feel sorry for myself, but I usually indulge a little bit of self-pity during Bikram classes and joke that I should be in a special needs class as I can’t do many of the moves. But that stopped tonight. Next to me was a young man that was obviously suffering with a physical illness. He did not seem in control of his limbs at times, sporadically twitching and almost fighting with himself to stop spasming. I thought to myself, “how brave”, and also “how pathetic ” of me to feel sorry for myself, when there are people much worse off than me. I still felt like I wasn’t very good, but it put things into perspective for me. Society conditions us to compete with each other all the time, even when we’re supposed to be in environments that strive to unite mind, body and soul. Standing at the front of a Bikram class, with a physically impaired person next to you, is one sure fire way to kick your ego into touch, and get back to what really matters.
I’m not sure what I think about God, but I felt something spiritual at play this evening. Whatever God you believe in, he/she/it is often described as having a sense of humour, so when I left yoga and was greeted by this image sprawled across a shop window, I had to have a chuckle to myself.
So as I approach the end of Day 4, having madly done a challenging Bikram yoga class at the most hungry part of my day, I can’t help but think about the women and children of Swaziland, and the challenges that they go though every day and I’m happy that I’ve gone through my own challenge this week as I know that it has given me deeper insight into life, struggles and what really matters. I hope some of you that are reading my blog and supporting me feel the same.
Thanks and Nameste!
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