Continuity, compliments, cramp. Youch.

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It’s no mystery that so many people return to Bikram, despite the agony endured through each session. As soon as it’s over, the relief and relaxation that washes over described by another yogi as ‘walking on air’ obliterates the evil memories. The complaining that emerges after is little more than words that were imprinted on the mind during practice that can be recalled. As a woman exclaimed after todays class ‘I got half way through and wondered why I came!’ to which the line of recoverees (including myself) looked at one another and laughed in acknowledgement. Today’s instructor is notorious for holding the poses longer than is absolutely required, I’m beginning to suspect he’s a little sadoistic. 

The problem is, no-one is satisfied with just getting through, it’s impossible to not put every last breath into at least achieving the same as last practice, if not going a little further – ‘further – lock the knees, one last time!’ I never quite reach the goal, but I’m feeling my body reacting in different ways, relaxing into some of the postures and reaching new heights in others. 

Several sessions ago I outdid myself – frightfully aware that the running commentary was aimed at me ‘knees closer together, toes pointed, roll forward onto your belly – don’t forget to breathe!’ A new height – the toes moved higher in the air behind my back than I could imagine and I attracted my very first ‘Well done, Anja!’ Delighted as I was, I was also stuck, and in pain. My calf already susceptible to cramp had obviously streched like it had never stretched before and didn’t know how to release itself. Nor did I . I forced my legs to the ground as the class were coaxed to ‘relax, dead man pose’ even through it was doing anything but. There was a complete disconnect at that point between my mind and body that must have been evident as the commentary turned into a gentle chuckle – definitely not part of the Bikram mantra! My foot shook uncontrollably while I pressed it into my other foot in vain attempt to silence it. Finally, the relief of the muscle tension loosing its grip washed over and we were into the next pose.

I evidently still turn up, still make progress and put plenty of salt into the water to ward off cramp – but I don’t intent to compete against that particular Bow pose in the floor series again any time soon, it’s just not dignified. And I quite frankly couldn’t care less if I can’t see my toes over my head – hell I’ve seen the floor by hanging upside down enough to tick the ‘new experience in weird positions’ box to keep me going until the end of my 60 sessions! 

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