DAY 101: Here We Are

Author: thedancingj /

"Beyond the mountains, there are mountains." ~ Haitian proverb

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Well, here we are.  One hundred days of yoga, plus one more at the end for good measure.  We did it!

And who are we, these crazy people who took on this enormous task?  We are people from all walks of life.  Our youngest participants were in their teens, and our oldest were in their sixties (or older).  We are lawyers, dancers, bankers, engineers, artists, and bull riders.  We are professional athletes and semi-professional couch potatoes.  We live in Canada, New York, Malaysia, Las Vegas, Sweden, California, London, Australia, and many other cities and countries.  We practice at busy urban studios, and we practice with CDs and space heaters in rural areas.  Some of us have overcome crippling medical conditions, and some of us are just holding our heads a little higher these days.  Some of us have been practicing Bikram yoga for many years now, and some of us have been doing practicing for precisely 101 days.  Some of us are teachers, but we are all students.

We are yogis.

Imagine if we could all occupy the same space for a while.  Imagine if there were more of us.  Imagine if we could fill a city.  What kind of a place would we create?  What would that world look like?

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When you started this challenge, it was probably something that you were doing for yourself (or rather your Self).  And I'm certain that you've seen changes.  You're not the same person you were a few months ago.  You are transforming.  You may not be at the butterfly stage yet, but at the very least you are spinning your chrysalis.  (These things don't happen overnight.)  You are taking care of your Self, and it shows.  The people around you are starting to see the difference.  Maybe they've noticed a glow.

I don't think I've used my favorite yoga class metaphor yet.  And it's not "yoga class is a gas station," although that is a very good one.  It's "yoga class is an oxygen mask."  It's one of those silly yellow oxygen masks that's supposed to drop down from the ceiling of the plane if there is an emergency.  You remember the instructions that they give you about those oxygen masks, right?  (They go over this at the beginning of every airplane flight, in every country, so it must be important.)  They tell you that if there is an emergency, you must secure your own oxygen mask before you can think about helping others.  Before you can save the person sitting in the neighboring seat, you must be able to breathe.

So yoga class is your oxygen mask, in every possible sense.  And you've finally gotten your oxygen mask on.  That fresh, high-speed oxygen is now rushing through your body, waking up the cells that were on the brink of death, bringing life and energy to every part of you.  Re-energizing, revitalizing, re-organizing.  You've saved yourself.  You're starting to breathe again.  You're going to be fine.

Now what about that person who is sitting next to you?

~~~

It has been a pure joy to watch all of you during the challenge and hear all of your voices.  It's been a gift.  I hope this little community doesn't disperse too much.  All the websites will still exist, and maybe we can come up with some creative ways to keep using them.  It's up to all of you!  You can take control now, I think.

For me, there's only one thing more powerful than doing this yoga myself: sharing the yoga with others.  This can be such a simple thing to do.  Say a few encouraging words to a new student after class; let them know how well they did, tell them about your favorite post-class snack, encourage them to come back tomorrow.  Sit outside the room for a few minutes and compare notes on postures with another regular.  Trick your co-workers into coming to class with you and see if they ever forgive you for it.  Smile at someone in the mirror (but not in a creepy way).  Be a source of calm in stressful situations, when you're the only person in the room who is still breathing normal(ly).  Be a source of support for a friend who's going through a hard time; you developed the strength for this when you stood with your toes on the line every day and looked at your own eyes in the mirror.

The more you give, the more you receive.  As it turns out, this is how the world works.

And if you're really nuts, like me, you might one day find yourself living in a hotel room for nine weeks with 300 other yogis and some crazy 60-something year old Indian dude who still thinks that white disco suits are the height of fashion.  I'm referring, of course, to the nine week long Bikram yoga teacher training program.  I'm going to the next session.  It starts in exactly one week.  It's something that I've wanted to do for years.  For me, this choice was obvious and inevitable.  I'm going to teacher training because sharing Bikram yoga with the world feels more right to me than anything I've ever known.  There are plenty of other things that I could be doing with my life right now, but this yoga thing trumped them all.  At the end of the day, I just couldn't think of anything that was more important or worthwhile.

So that's my journey.  It started years ago (or maybe before I was born), and I'm certain that it's only just begun to unfold.  Your journey will be different, because we all live different lives.  But wherever you path leads you, I hope that yoga will remain in your life as a source of strength, joy, and love.

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Juliana Olmstead would like to thank the Academy....  No, but really.  "Bikram 101" has been one of her favorite parts of this decade so far.  (It would have come out in the number one spot if she hadn't also finished grad school and signed up for teacher training while the challenge was going on.)  She promises to blog at least a few times at teacher training (and beyond), so feel free to keep stalking her at her blog.  If her posts become incoherent at some point, it's probably just the sleep deprivation talking.  She thinks that you are all rock stars!!

DAY 100: Write Your Script.

Author: Heather Molina /

This is my last post in the challenge.


Tomorrow is the final day in the Bikram 101 Challenge. And we are going to be honored with a wonderful final post from a very inspirational yogini. (Enough pressure for you J?!?!)

But I wanted to collect my thoughts for one last post, in hopes that it will provide some inspiration to all of you who are thinking about doing a yoga challenge. So here are my thoughts...
  • The biggest step you take each day of the challenge is simply just getting to class. Once you get to class, the rest of the script writes itself.
  • Never be hard on yourself because you aren't progressing in a pose at a rate you think you should be. This is a LIFETIME PRACTICE. For some of us, Standing Head to Knee pose will take a LIFETIME.
  • It is possible to hold down a full time executive job, maintain a household, spend time with a significant other AND practice regularly. It's all mental.
  • A daily practice keeps you healthy. I practice Bikram yoga to heal my body from all the damage I have done to it, and all the damage I still do to it.
I think the biggest thing that I am taking away from this challenge is how important it is to be fearless and continue to push myself. We each have the ability create our paths and write the script of our lives. But we often hold back, waiting for signs from The Universe. But that is silly. We create our destiny. We choose to show up or not show up for a Bikram class each day and complete the challenge.

Did I do 101 DAYS of Bikram yoga? In reality, no. I will have done 101 Bikram yoga classes IN 101 days. But did I go to class every single day? Nope. There were things I chose to prioritize over yoga some days... Like getting two root canals on two different days... Traveling for work... Needing to sleep because of an overloaded work schedule. But I made up for it by pulling doubles. And I finished the challenge I set up for myself.

This wasn't easy. There were days where I didn't think I would make it through Pranayama. But I pushed through and found the energy. I wrote a mental script in those moments to finish the class. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. And as a Bikram teacher reminded me this week...

"Life begins outside your comfort zone."

It really, truly does.

Some of you may know that I now plan on going to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training this Fall. I have been toying with the idea of going for a few years. But I kept telling myself, "Oh, if I'm really meant to go, I'll receive a sign."

I realize now, though, that I was waiting for myself to give me permission. I didn't think I could be a teacher. That even though I love this yoga, I didn't have what it takes to be a good teacher. But now that I have completed this challenge, I realize that it is time. I am ready.
  • I know I can handle two yoga classes in one day.
  • I look forward to spending time in a hot room each day.
  • I want to teach others how to heal their bodies the same way I have learned.
  • I know the world does not end just because I still struggle with Standing Head to Knee. (Besides, my Standing Bow pose kicks a lot of ass now.)
  • I have what it takes because I know what it is truly like to struggle and grow in this yoga.
It's been wonderful sharing this journey with you all. We've had some amazing guest posters share their stories and thoughts with us throughout this challenge. I hope you all found this to be insightful and educational.

I'm off to go study some dialogue now. I have 23 weeks to learn 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises from a script, verbatim.

It's the one script I can't write.

Day 99: Untapped Strength.

Author: Heather Molina /

by Diedre Rose DiBlasi

101 days of Bikram yoga is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, but not to be taken lightly. To go through the challenge is to understand directly through experience what it means to change your body and change your mind. We are so much stronger than we believe we are and 101 days of yoga forces us to find and tap into that strength.

As an experienced yogini of vinyasa, power, kripalu & kundilini styles of 8 yrs, I stumbled into Bikram yoga for my first time a few months ago as a way to support a friend new to the practice, and curious about the hot style. I had no idea how deeply I would be changed by it. The heat felt healing to the body and bitter truth of the dialogue medicine to the mind. I found the philosophies behind the dialogue to the parallel the challenges we struggle with in daily life – courage, fear, determination, patience, & discipline. The more of these qualities I brought to my practice, the more they became a part of my total life. I felt that as my practice grew stronger, so did I. There is no hiding in Bikram yoga; no more excuses. I was able to confront and tackle faulty personal belief systems I had put on the backburner for many years and for the first time in a long time, I began to see myself as worthy and deserving of great things. I attribute this change in thinking to Bikram, the dialogue, and yoga sequence. My yoga teachers in St. Charles have been generous guides and role models and I am so grateful and appreciative to have found this practice and opportunity. Additionally, it has been especially encouraging and inspirational to go through this experience with other challengers and share these changes together. Sweat sisters are amazing!

A few weeks into the 30 day challenge my employer announced my job would be outsourced to India this summer. This allowed me to extend the 30 day challenge to 101 days since overtime at work was no longer expected. I am excited for a career change which will give me an opportunity to put these new skills to the test and realize my potential. I am still working toward my own vision of success but know that Bikram yoga will be there to challenge and push me to keep growing stronger – deepest thanks to you Bikram!

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Diedre Rose DiBlasi lives in Gilberts, IL and has practiced yoga as a hobby for more than 8 years. She is also an artist and makes yoga and spiritual inspired jewelry and paintings and has ambitions of owning her own business in the near future utilizing her passions. She is looking to connect with like-minded people who want to encourage the pursuit of personal fulfillment in all people. You can contact her at diedrerose2001@yahoo.com.

Day 99: Old Skoolasana.

Author: Heather Molina /

by Michelle Zimmer

I look forward to writing my monthly blog post.

I think about what I might want to write about, without actually thinking specifically about what I will be writing about...all the time.

Rather often actually. It makes me feel happy to know I have a month to ponder. But, I tell myself, first, don't start sentences with "but"... And second, this time I will not procrastinate!

"Don't wait until the last second to write!" (Just like I did in school...)

But then I do. And that works for me mostly. (Don't start a sentence with "and" Michelle.) So here I am writing (having my mom weirdly correct my grammar in my head) and having no idea what I was going to talk about... Until I started writing, and then I totally knew.

It is a stream of consciousness. (Ooh.. I spelled consciousness correctly on the first go! =) This is exactly how I prepared for Day 45 Valentimes Day as well as Day 66 Shartasana (lol!)

I have assignment habits on the brain... Earlier this week I had the privilege of starting a composter certification class at the New York Botanical Gardens.

("What! What!" I am doing a happy spring dance!)

I have not stepped foot in a classroom since 1990! (And back then I was cutting out to go on auditions - to my drama teacher's chagrin.) Only 15 students are accepted to the Master Composter Certification program a year and I am very proud that "doody" called. I will be a better student this time because I want to be there. Worms and all.

I stopped only grabbing my knee in standing head to knee this week. And only I only grab under the foot now. (Wahoo!) Yesterday I spent most of the day in an Epsom salt bath reading/ruining a Vanity Fair with baaad cramps and a Snickers bar.

I have already done a double to make up for it.

"One down! $@%*& to go!"

That's right...It seems that I haven't changed all that much since my school days. I still play hooky, resulting in my final week being all doubles .

Whhhheeeeeeeeeeee!!! ^_^

MY final class is on tax day (owing on unemployment is fun), as well as the 5 year anniversary of my dad's funeral. (Sigh.) No hiding in my bedroom this year! Nope. I think it will be cathartic to have a positive connection to the date 4/15.

I miss you so much Daddy! I hope you are proud that I got off my lazy "in denial" ass and made a change.

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Michelle lives in New York City and originally hails from the Riverdale section of the Bronx. She is passionate about the food, drink and garden industries. She used to think she might be a "vegetarian with sausage tendencies," but recently realized she is more like a "carnivore with a conscience." She considers herself an "Urban Garden Hoe," as she invests a lot of time volunteering in her neighborhood's community garden. She loves the Yankees and constantly invites people to explore the "northern" part of NYC. "You won't get a nosebleed," she promises.

DAY 98: The Best of the Rest

Author: KT /


Day 51: %$@! happens (no post)


Day 52: You can't stop progress!


Day 53: Dreaming of being late represents fear and running out of time. Classrooms represent the need or desire to earn something.


Day 54: Because what is the yoga class (and especially the standing head to knee part of the yoga class), if not one big, long "character building" exercise?


Day 55: We are doing this challenge for a reason. Don't forget that. In the midst of the grind of laundry, logistics, work, family, life and just trying to make it into that room everyday, don't forget that there is a higher purpose to this whole thing.


Day 56: Point yourself in the direction you want to go and one day you'll get there. Progress happens gradually, then suddenly. If you don't show up, you might just miss it.


Day 57: (Wow, nine weeks. Can anyone think of something else that's nine weeks long?! Nine weeks can go by fast.)


Day 58: Yes, we get 90 minutes everyday to get away from all of this while in the hot room. But is that enough?


Day 59: When we come out of that room, we should all realize we have given ourselves another chance for a better life, a new appreciation of ourselves and a way to open up our minds and our hearts to those in our lives- for that we all deserve a gold medal.


Day 60: There's no (more) crying in Bikram.


Day 61: There will always be hard days, fun days, killer days, and rock star days, no matter how long you do this stuff!


Day 62: %$@! happens again, sometimes.


Day 63: I love the kind of people who love yoga.


Day 64: There is really only one rule for Bikram yoga: breathe.


Day 65: Bikram’s advanced series...or how to scare people aware when trying to motivate them!


Day 66: And that's not the point of this yoga. The point is to progress. To go for it. No fear.


Day 67: "You're getting something out," as one of my studio owners told me in my last really bad class. "This is good."


Day 68: Yoga class is a gas station, remember? (Maybe you don't? Maybe I should talk about that next time.) Take my word for it - yoga class is a gas station.


Day 69: You see, while I like those other forms, it's just not the same as the 26 and 2 of Bikram. The dialog, the room conditions, the teachers, the sequence....put together it's magic.


Day 70: ...it's detoxification & intoxication.


Day 71: When was the last time you saw your body as a whole, instead of seeing bits and pieces of things that you like or things that you want to change?


Day 72: The teacher teaching, though, knew I was half-assing it... She knew I was surrendering to the absence of energy into my mind. Yet, instead of verbally calling me out on it in class, in the second set she did something that helped me get back into line with my energy and pose...


Day 73: “Open your knees, keep 6 inches between your toes, heels knees and hands” - *snigger. Sorry, that line just sounds really dirty [well, ahem, to ME at least. No really, TINK OF IT!]


Day 74: There have been plenty of days where I did not want to be in the hot room. But I use my English bulldog determination to make myself go and throw my mat on the line.


Day 75: It's a lifetime practice, and it's a lifestyle, too.


Day 76: Do not have green shorts or top on. Do not bring a green mat. Do not have a green towel, hand towel, washcloth, water bottle, hair tie. In fact, if you have green eyes, close 'em!


Day 77: pleasure of the pain.


Day 78: Yoga teaches you to love yourself now. Perfection is not the goal. It's not even part of the equation.


Day 79: This is our journey and we are so incredibly lucky to have found this path and to be able to experience its wonders together.


Day 80: Although sometimes we need a little distraction to lift us and get us through a tough moment, it’s important to try and come back and focus on the present, no matter what we may be feeling.


Day 81: I don't even notice the heat anymore.


Day 82: Our yoga is similar in so many ways. It's the same everywhere you go, and it speaks through a universal language - movement - that can bring people together regardless of age, race, gender, or anything else!


Day 83: I don't know how my body will react to each posture, or if the room feels too hot or cold that day, or if the person next me is wandering around their mat. I can control if I'm in the room and focused and if I do that, it's a smooth ride for the whole class.


Day 84: Just get to the room. That is all you have to do. Get to the room. Your body will know where to take it from there for today.


Day 85: And I think the yoga works the same way. At first, we are all just strangers. Then we come to honor and respect one another. Eventually, we are bound together by our sweat (thicker than blood) and become like family. It's strange and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Day 86: "You’re here...that's all that matters. It doesn't matter how well you do the poses. All that matters is that you are here and you try."


Day 87: Each new day is a clean slate; I rise up from sleep and I am in some sense, reborn. Ninety minutes of daily practice teaches me that I have a chance to connect to myself and connect to the Divine. Each new day, I have an opportunity to try again, to reach further, to dig deeper.


Day 88: I would love nothing more than to get over whatever is holding me back and keeping me at my current progress state. I just don't know if I will be able to do it before the challenge ends.


Day 89: We find out how much of the stuff we've been carrying around with us is completely unnecessary. And when we get rid of all that stuff, it feels so much better. It feels great every day!


Day 90: Yoga is the gift that brings us closer to that peace.


Day 91: This Bikram 101 challenge has changed. my. life. period.


Day 92: It means to celebrate each step towards freedom as if it were enough, then to start on the next step.


Day 93: I've developed the patience to recognize that all the things I wish I had are what keeps this yoga challenging for me each day.


Day 94: For the low-low price of $5 a class, I am healing my body in incredible ways.


Day 95: We are each our own creators. What are you going to create with the seven days you have left?


Day 96: We can't control the events that surround us, but we can control the way we respond. And that is what yoga teaches us. We learn that it doesn't matter what environment we're in, what other people say to us, or what happens around us. We can breathe through all of it.


Day 97: Thank you, Bikram.


DAY 97: ...A Bag Full

Author: Heather Molina /

by Kim Corbett Johnson

I’m lying on the couch debating on going to class or not (in extreme pain, two aspirin and a hot, Epsom salt pack providing no relief) when I recall another blogger’s post about using the class to heal.

I had just completed a double the day before, first time ever doing a back-to-back. I’d experienced lower back pain before, but nothing like this. Not sure if it’s a sciatic nerve issue or not, nonetheless, it wasn’t pleasant.

The day was filled with lots of sad news. Two close friends of mine were dealing with their mom’s failing health. One dealing with newly appointed hospice staff, the other taking her mother to chemo treatments daily. Another friend had been taken to the hospital to spend his last moments fighting with pancreatic cancer. My heart was heavy with sadness and overwhelm with all of this.

As I lay there on the couch, covered with my warm blanket and purring cat, groaning in pain, it struck me that all of these hardships these people were dealing with could perhaps been prevented if they had a regular practice of Bikram yoga. I immediately sprung to my feet, had 5 minutes to get out the door and headed to my class.

My intention for the class was to heal, inspired by my suffering friends. As I lay there on the mat in pain, anxiously waiting for the bright lights to come on, I thought...

“I want more than healing. I want more than what I came for, like when I go to Trader Joes for that one thing and leave with a bag full.”

I didn’t perform to my usual 100%, but I was relieved from pain and left with that centered stillness, came home content and rested, ready to be there for my loved ones dealing with their great pain and sorrow. Thank you, Bikram.

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Kim Corbett Johnson, is new to Bikram Yoga, and practices at Bikram Yoga St. Charles. She began 101 day Challenge January 2, 2010, and had attended one class before this. She started with the intention of completing a 30 day Challenge, which looked impossible… And now is thinking about completing a 365 day challenge. She’s the President of a company she started, Enhanced Lifeskills Solutions. She teaches participants proven principles for successful living anchored in the science of synergetics.

DAY 96: The Absence of Control

Author: thedancingj /

It's incredible how little control we have over our lives.

I mean, so many of the things that affect us every day are completely out of our hands.  We don't control the weather. We don't control the tectonic plates.  We don't control the people in our lives - our bosses, our employees, our friends, our family.  Anytime we apply for a job, join a class, or even just step out into the road, we can set off a chain of events that is completely out of our hands.

And we certainly can't control our yoga classes.  We can't control the teacher.  We can't control the temperature of the room.  We can't control the actions of other people in the room.  We can't even control our own bodies, not fully.  They change from day-to-day in ways that we can't perceive or understand.  We might do everything "right" and still get run over by the yoga truck, or we might do everything "wrong" and end up feeling great in class.  Some days, it seems as random as a coin toss.

I purposely didn't describe this as a "loss of control."  I'm talking about the crystal-clear realization that we never even had control at all.

So... so what?  What do we do?

We breathe.

We can't control the events that surround us, but we can control the way we respond.  And that is what yoga teaches us.  We learn that it doesn't matter what environment we're in, what other people say to us, or what happens around us.  We can breathe through all of it.  That's the part that we can control.  Sometimes, it's the only part that we can control.

But it makes all the difference in the world.