The Ultimate Yogi

So I’m quitting Bikram.

I can hear the groans, grumbles, and overall confusion as it echoes about the blogosphere. I’ll give you a second to relax and focus.

Yes, I’m quitting Bikram…for awhile. Aside from the fact that my schedule is absolutely jam-packed at the moment, and I’m wasting about $100 a month to not make it to class for days on end, there’s the fact that it hurts me. Physically. I’ve been struggling with the fact for a year now, and I’m finally ready to give in to the realization that if I’m ever going to go back to Bikram, I’ve got to be a lot stronger and more supple.

That’s a weird thing to say, and you’re right to question it. But here’s how it is – my hips scream in pain throughout the entire Bikram class. Then they scream in pain for the rest of the day. Every time I move a leg (you try walking or sitting without moving one – go ahead, I’ll wait). Every time I try to bend over or kneel down. All night, every time I try to turn over, a pain that stabs so deeply it’s almost a paralytic. I have to lift up with my arms in order to skootch my butt over so I can turn to one side or the other. It affects everything. It affects my weight, my physical bearing, my sensuality.

True, not doing Bikram also hurts. Running also hurts. But Bikram irritates the pain much more. I kept going to class because I was told – and believed, quite deeply – that all of the stretching would eventually repair my problems. But something happened. I started going to my personal trainer, and stretching in new ways that are not practiced in Bikram. And guess what? The pain started to go away for days at a time…only returning after a Bikram class, or a long, strenuous run.

So I started to look for a different route. Less Bikram, more personal training, more stretching. And now a new yoga program. I started a program called The Ultimate Yogi yesterday. It’s 108 days of yoga every single day, with classes taught via DVD. It’s being called the P90X of yoga, and for good reason. It’s intense. It’s a game-changer. And after today’s class, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the thing that finally heals me.

The plan is very simple: a different yoga class every day, followed by a special ab class every other day, and meditation daily, as well. Practitioners follow a special diet of very common sense choices like no sugars, flours, or processed foods, and also do a juice fast or raw cleanse every 36 days. At the end, you’re strong, flexible, and healthy from the inside out. What’s not to like?

Even better, today’s class was a focus on long periods of stretching, where a great deal of the work was in the hips, legs, and lower back. It hurt like hell in some of the poses, things that I very clearly remember doing with ease only a few years ago, before screwing myself up by running the Chicago Marathon in 2009. But even through the pain of stretching out muscles that were intensely wound and almost wooden, I could feel change happening in my joints. The intense, cold ache that normally fills my hips was replaced with warmth, and a general muscle ache that feels almost heavenly in comparison. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m on the right path now, at least.

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