So I've been doing the Bikram yoga thing off and on for 10 years now. (I love how I'm saying that so casually; I walked out of the studio the other day and encountered a guy on the street who made the mistake of asking me about it. I went on and on about how life-changing it is and how it fixes EVERYTHING until I could tell by the look on his face that he thought it must be some strange, hot, sweaty cult. I then paused and acknowledged how fanatical I sounded by saying, "Oh yeah, I totally chug the Kool-Aid. Hell, I probably am the one making it most of the time.")
I'm at the beginning of a 50-day-challenge (50 classes in 50 days) as we speak, and have been thinking quite a bit about the first time I did a challenge when I was 22. I remember how much of my actions were driven by ego: being the strongest, making sure I was in the front, having the deepest poses, looking the best in my teeny, tiny shorts...
It's been a long road from then to now: along the way I've had two babies (my body is a tad bit different now to say the least), gotten divorced, and fallen on my face while simultaneously crashing and burning more times that I care to count. The majority of ego I once had has fallen by the wayside, and the woman who practices now is drastically different from the girl who's reflection I stared at once upon a time.
In one of my favorite books, Tattoos on the Heart, Father Boyle describes the way some pundit compared and contrasted Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush several years back. He said Bill Clinton walks into a room and wants everybody in the room to like him. Al Gore walks into a room and wants everyone to think he's right. "W" walks into a room and wants the room to know he's in charge. I read that and knew exactly how I'd walked into that yoga room (and most rooms) up until pretty recently. 22 year old me walked into that yoga studio and was going to be in charge come Hell or High Water. She was going to stand front and center, do everything better, put everyone in their place, and do it all with a perfected resting-bitch-face.
Father Boyle goes onto say that walking into a room needing to be liked, or right, or in charge, is fear-based. I've thought about that a lot these last two weeks; the fact that now I walk into the yoga room both on days when I feel amazing, or those when I'm tired and hurting, and choose now to stand in the back, simply content to be there. I no longer care if anyone thinks I'm in charge, because if there's one thing I've learned in the last ten years, it's that I'm barely in charge of myself, let alone an entire room. And while before I was terrified of having a lack of control over myself and others, I now realize the concept of being truly in charge of anything in this life is laughable. Not to mention, few things are as freeing or fulfilling as simply being one in 30, sweating it out while supporting people that I adore and admire as we try to survive a 103 degree room and leave a little more whole than when we entered.