(These are the three main teachers and the founders of my studio)
I used to think I had done bikram yoga. I was an idiot.
I recently had my first, actual bikram class. I think I died a few times during the workout. I want to chronicle how unbelievably hard and painful it was so I don’t ever start deluding myself into thinking the last time I got in shape, it happened overnight by magic.
The first time I came to Turkey I lost a lot of weight. To the point that I actually thought I was too thin. I know. I too didn’t think that was possible. Particularly for someone who is 5’1. After I became thin I started thinking mean things about people who complained about being fat. I thought shut up and stop eating so much. Why don’t you go on a treadmill if your butt feels too big?
Having gone from being fat/chubby to being thin, I felt like I could hate on fat people legitimately. Kind of like when minorities say offensive things about their own.
And then I got fat again. I knew it was happening. I went home and studied for the bar. Eat, eat, eat. Fahad got married. Eat, cake, eat, ice cream, eat. Then Ramadan came. Starve, eat samosas, pakoras, anything, eat, eat. Then I was fat because of Ramadan so eat, eat, eat until I feel better. Then I was in London. Fried chicken for one pound everywhere. Eat, eat, eat. Then I went to Paris. Croissant perfection. Eat, eat. Belgium. Chocolates, eat, waffles, eat, eat.
There were so many times I was eating so much that it physically hurt. You know that feeling, right? When you go to a restaurant or your mom’s house? And you just gorge because the food is so damn good. I think we don’t realize how much we do that until we actually start noting it. Or we overeat so much that our bodies become accustomed to it. The thing is, becoming fat doesn’t really sneak up on you. (Unless you became fat in your early teens or before you really knew any better.) It is the result of many, many, many choices. Most of them involve not stopping eating when you are too full and not exercising even when you can feel that your body needs it.
I am not writing this because I think fat people are evil and thin people should rule the world. But I do realize that weight is an issue for a lot of people, both men and women and we don’t have to hate ourselves over it. We can’t constantly mistreat our bodies and then expect them to still shine for us. Our bodies are not trophy wives. They will not stay with us if we have affairs with ding dongs and ho hos.
As I was standing in bikram with my newer, chubbier self, I felt each and every posture. My legs and arms were shaking for most of the workout. At one point I started rolling up my mat because I was the only one who couldn’t do it right. I looked like such a fat rolly, polly idiot and I felt humiliated.
But I took a deep breath and thought it will be far worse if you walk out. How will you ever come to another class? My mom always says, you have to take that first step, and after that, the only ways you get to your goal is to continue, one slow step at a time.
So, I made a commitment to stay there. To not allow myself to leave just because I felt embarrassed. To not deny my body a chance to be something better just because it was ‘hard.’ I realize that the first time I got fit, part of it had to do with trying to eat a salad or something light for one of my meals, but a lot more had to do with simple things like only taking the stairs, taking walks when I was bored or going to yoga even when I didn’t feel like it.
I remember that in almost every single yoga class, I swore it would be the last one. Yoga is so hard for me. The postures are hard, the insecurity of being the worst in the class is hard and focusing on one thing for 90 minutes is hard. And for those same reasons, I realize that it is really good for me and it is something I need to do.
Today, I can start to feel the toning in my shoulders and the firmness of my legs. I can feel the long line in the back of my spine and I feel good. I feel healthy and I feel strong.