“The only goal you have today in your first class is not to leave the room”, is what I hear. I’m standing in a low-lit studio at 6am with about 40 other people, wondering what in the hell kind of place has a goal of this sort. I lay down with my head in the direction of the mirror and have trouble taking full breaths. My clothing is taking on a temperature of its own. This is my very first Bikram Yoga class.
It is during one of the coldest months of 2006 and the drastic change in temperature has my circulation in overdrive. It is 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the 50 pounds of extra weight on my body has been put on notice. My Giana was born six weeks earlier and after gaining 65 pounds in a short nine months, she was one healthy baby. I knew so much extra weight called for a very aggressive plan to melt it away as quickly as I hoped.
The class is named after its creator, Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury, born in Calcutta, India in 1946. While my own children played soccer and did gymnastics in their early years, Bikram began his yoga practice at the age of four. By the age of 13 he won the National India Yoga Championship after practicing about five hours per day. According to author, Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory, it is perhaps understandable that after spending what seemed like his whole life practicing yoga, Bikram founded the worldwide Yoga College of India™.
Even after a life-altering knee injury, Bikram practiced yoga and began to walk again contrary to his prognosis. Soon thereafter he created the unique 26-posture series that millions of people practice around the world.
Back to my class. We will have two opportunities to do our best job on each position over 90 minutes. The first posture is Standing Deep Breathing and the intention is to get all of the ‘stale air’ out of my lungs. In just one posture I feel both light-headed and refreshed. The instructor says I will find my perfect teacher in the mirror. This is a mind, body and soul workout that drives you to realize your own strength.
The intensity of the heat causes sweat to drip, my muscles to shake and yet somehow the focus of my mind is getting my body through it. Nine poses into it, and I feel faint while attempting the Triangle Pose. The instructor spots me from her short podium, and announces to the class that it is perfectly acceptable to lay down motionless to regain strength. After 45 minutes we lay down in Dead Body Pose. I do feel as though I may die.
Then something very smart happens in the next few poses; they are simple knee-to-chest exercises that allow you to regain consciousness. I had to lay down two more times during the floor poses. But I made it to the end. After the final breathing exercise is over, I lay down and meditate for about five minutes. In those five minutes I felt so proud of myself for ‘staying in the room’ and making it through my first class. My body felt glorious, surprisingly. It was as though I had the most intense deep-tissue massage for 90 minutes.
The instructor ends the class by saying the greatest gift we can give ourselves is to return tomorrow. She was right. I returned five days per week to the 6am class and with the balance of boxing, I lost 50 pounds in nine months.
The key: Gain clearance for physical fitness from your doctor, and then commit to yourself to achieve your desired goal.
Trina M. Fresco, Vice President of Operations for the IT firm smarTECHS.net since 2007 and NBCLatino Contributor, was named one of “50 Powerful Minority Women in Business” by MEA Magazine. Fresco is the Chair of the Chicago Foundation for Women Investment Subcommittee and serves on a number of additional boards & committees. Fresco resides Chicago with her husband, George and their three children Sofia, Giana and Lorenzo. You can contact her at FrescoRealTalk@gmail.com or on Twitter @trinafresco.