I’m entitling this post with a saying Bikramites are all-too-familiar with. Most of you have heard it about 8,582 times, but for those who haven’t, Bikram yoga instructors will often break out this saying, especially when you’ve finished a particularly grueling set of poses: "Never too late, never too old, never too bad, never too sick to start from the scratch once again." There’s always a second chance, there’s always a second set. No matter how many times I hear that saying, I never get tired of it.
I mentioned in my previous post that I was having some health issues that prevented me from getting to class for a while. My doc diagnosed me as hypertensive (I know, right? What the hell?) and insisted I stay home from work and skip rigorous exercise until the medication kicked in.
I walked into my first class back feeling a little cocky. My blood pressure was back down into the “acceptable” range, and the preliminary blood test had come out perfect. Although I was little tired, I felt I was ready for a triumphant return—no more troubling symptoms! Plus, my previously abnormal cholesterol, thyroid, and glucose levels? Back to the optimal range. Kidney and liver functions? Baby, I’d tell you, but then I’d have to live in fear of the organ harvesters.
That confidence was shaken by the end of pranayama deep breathing. My arms actually got fatigued by the end of first set. I barely made it through Eagle pose (the third pose in the series) before I had to sit down. The rest of the class I must have looked like one of those ping-pong balls. You know, the ones tied to the paddle? I was up and down throughout the entire standing series. I could barely stay in the room.
Even though I wasn't working hard, my heart rate felt high, so I just kept to the floor for most of the class. At one point I stole a glance in the mirror and could see my heartbeat vibrating in my belly. As the rest of the class was lifting into elegant Bow pose, I was crying into my towel thinking “this is it. I’m dying in here. I won’t be able to do this anymore.”
By Fixed Firm, though, I had gotten it together. My teacher tells us occasionally that every day, every body is different. To get through the class, I would have to reframe it. Today, the yoga was not spending half of the class on the floor; the yoga was doing 13 of the 26 rigorous postures in an intense environment while my body was adjusting to the new medication. I’m still getting benefits, even if I’m not “performing” at my usual level.
I still had one hurdle to clear. The doctor told me to get a blood pressure monitor and to check it occasionally. I could not let it get up to the level it had been before. I knew that if I was hypertensive after getting home from yoga, I’d have to rethink everything.
But guess what?
OK, you yogis guessed it. After I’d gotten home, I checked the blood pressure and it was fine. In fact, it was the lowest it’s been since I started the medication. I was so relieved I almost started crying again.
So, as I did in the class today, I’m trying to reframe this whole experience. Yes, I had a health scare last week, and yes, I have to go on medication that has some weird side effects. Yes, I still have to get more tests. But—and I don’t want to exaggerate or jump to conclusions--I must point out that the preliminary blood test results are optimal, where they were slightly abnormal before doing the yoga. I had the opportunity to demonstrate the tremendous benefits the yoga can offer.
I’m going to have to adjust my expectations. Big time! So long as the doctor continues to give me a green light, though, I can continue practicing. And guess what? I have the opportunity to start from scratch. Again!