Following is a beautiful testimony of Bikram Yoga SLC student Annika who recently completed a 90 day challenge and is now on day 119.
Friend Kendra with Annika
My Bikram Story
I have struggled with the idea of writing a testimonial about my experience at the Bikram studio. The struggle, I realized, did not come from writing about my experience, but rather exposing a journey filled with vulnerability. After much thought it occurred to me that if there is one thing I’ve learned after 119 days in a hot room is that none of this is about staying in my comfort zone. So here it is…
As I started the 30 day challenge I envisioned the end goal and thought: ”By the end of these 30 days I will be different” Again, I thought this as I began the 60 day challenge, and again at the 90. I'm not sure what exactly I was looking to change. I just wanted to be different-thinner, more confident-all the things I didn't see within myself. I have practiced yoga sporadically since I was about 16. I've been to a number of retreats and tried an extensive list of esoteric practices. Along this journey nothing has ever clicked. Frustrated, I found myself pushing to find something, not even knowing what it was that I wanted to find.
Here I am 119 days into one of the most intense disciplines of yoga, the quintessential peak of my yogic journey. Sitting at the cusp of this moment, I can honestly say that the 'AhHa' moment, that “click,” that sudden vision and understanding of "IT ALL"…wasn't what I thought it would be. What I uncovered was a bit different.
I was once ashamed of who I was. Constantly I would tell myself that I was not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, kind enough…I was not enough. Daily I would drink to excess. I fooled myself into believing that I simply had mastered the art of truly enjoying life…every day. To add to my life’s enjoyment, rarely would I be caught without a cigarette in my hand. Plagued by anxiety and depression, every day was a struggle, and for so many years I fueled my body with toxins just enough to keep the real pain at bay. For about 7 years this was my life. My bad habits escalated and my body began to shut down. This became normal for me. I blamed it on a weak immune system, and my high paced lifestyle. It wasn't until recently that I realized, “this is not who I am.”
Cynthia Ocelli once said, "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." For 7 years I pushed the boundaries of what my body could tolerate. I was relentless and I did not care. Starting this journey masked as a 30-day challenge, I pushed even farther: Only this time I pushed love into my tired spots and fear out of the resistant ones. Suddenly, the walls that housed who I thought I was began to crumble. 119 days of staring at my sweaty body in a room hotter than hell-- I saw more than just the sweaty reflection of myself. Being in that room allowed me to be present in a way I had never experienced before. I saw beyond the illusions of what I thought I had to be in this lifetime, and it was absolutely beautiful.
“There is this story that an old instructor told me. It was about this tribe in Africa. They believed that everyone had a special vibration or song, and if you were quiet enough you could hear it. When a woman in this tribe got pregnant, they would go into the forest and sing and dance around her until they could hear the vibration of the child within. And when it was time to welcome this new life into the world they would sing their song. When it was time to say goodbye to a life in the tribe, again they would sing their song as they drifted off. The only other time they would do this was when someone in the tribe had committed a crime. To this they would circle around the individual and begin singing their song. They did this to remind them of who they are and to bring them back to that space.” Bikram yoga has reminded me of who I am and allowed me to return to that space.
I was so focused on change and becoming this kale eating yogi that I didn't realize the thing I was looking for, I already had. I found peace behind the veil of the dialogue, the postures and the flexibility.
Each instructor and fellow yogi has had a profound effect on my journey. I can't say enough how truly blessed I feel to have met you all and to be able to practice with you every day. The impact this studio has on the community is incredible. Yoga is really not just about touching your toes, although having a bow that goes to the ceiling a'int bad either (lol just kiddn)! But really, the essence of what yoga is about is definitely within this studio. I am so grateful to be a part of it.
With all my love,