In honor of Valentines day (or rather "Valentimes", as they say here in the "boogie down Bronx") I decided to blog about a new romance I am having.
Today I celebrate loving me again.
On December 28th 2009 I celebrated the first anniversary of my 39th year, yes, I turned 40. I don't look a day over 30, but I was starting to feel like I was 90. I decided that it was time to get back in shape when I went to lift my boob in my bra and realized I mistakenly grabbed a newly acquired belly roll. I needed help mentally and physically. I was writing "to do" lists in invisible ink and it was time to make some changes.
Aside from some seasonal rollerblading, I had not worked out, exercised in any way (not even a stretch), for almost 5 years. I had lost my dad to lung cancer and my mind decided to go along for the ride. I got very lazy (and drunk), and then overwhelmed (and stoned), and then depressed. Apathy... Denial... You name it. I lost my core, with every meaning of the word. I was a former "femme fatale" who turned into a "femme fetal" (position). I went from a size 6 to a 16 and somehow did not notice, as I gained it kind of equally everywhere. I felt like I was carrying an extra Michelle on my back. Good thing about that is at least she counter-balanced the hugeness of my breasts and knocked off the monkey.
Somehow, I knew it had to be Bikram for me. All I had to do was get off my butt and go. I had not really been drinking much the past 2 years (thanks in part to having a non-drinking boyfriend), but even so I decided I needed to go on the wagon completely if I wanted to do the challenge correctly. I know what my triggers are. If I have some wine, I might have a lot of wine resulting in lots of whine and me missing class. All or nothing, it's always been that way with me.
On January 3, 2010 I attended my first class at Bikram Yoga Bronx and of course I delved straight into a challenge. "All or nothing", I told you. I was so nervous on my way in to class that I was dry heaving on the bus. I mean, I used to be a gymnast as a child, later a personal trainer and now I can't even touch my toes. I used to be able to put my legs behind my neck and now when I move my shoulder it makes...noise? Is that gravel in my rotator cuff?
I decided to start breathing through my nose early and calmed myself down with a Dr. Andrew Weil breathing exercise I recalled from a book a crunchy ex- boyfriend forgot at my apt. (Seems like a fair trade, he got all of my 20's and I finally learned how to breathe).
I get to class and I'm already teary-eyed. I don't know what's worse, the idea that my dad is gone or him being aware of what a mess I have become. I don't feel like myself. I certainly don't look like myself, but I keep telling myself, "you're here, you are here, the worst part is over..." And then I tried rabbit pose.
Don't even get me started on what it feels like to do rabbit with my DD's and with this gut that used to be a 6-pack. "Stop judging and breathe normal." Breathe normal? It sounds like I'm motor-boating myself! Which caused me to start laughing. This is a good thing because that means I'm breathing...and burping...but more importantly, breathing.
I am on day 43 now (wahoo) and I am a new person. Or rather, I feel like my young self again. I stopped weighing myself but last time I checked I had lost 25 lbs (35 to go), I am down three jeans sizes and my arms are getting ripped. My flexibility is back about 70% and I am very proud of my camel and bow poses... But don't you ask me to lock my knee. Darn hyper extension! (lol)
I can see my obliques... And what are those? MY COLLAR BONES ARE BACK! Aside from waking up a couple of times a night to pee the 120 ounces of water I have to consume, I am sleeping very well. (Except for that one stressed out night, but I counted asanas instead of sheep and crashed right out!) My skin looks like Edward's in the film Twilight. I am not craving melted cheese on everything anymore. My digestive system is, well let's say, things are good on that end (all puns intended).
I also usually have gruesome menstrual cramps for a full day prior to getting it. Nothing but a bath would ever help (and it barely did). I took a class at the start of my cramps and got it an hour and a half later!!!! If for nothing else Bikram is worth that! I have also learned not to stare at the moving subway during savasana, you make that mistake one time.
Here is the best part though. It seems I have inspired at least 7 friends to start practicing Bikram. One friend in particular (she knows who she is) her doctor has taken her OFF her blood pressure pills and her insulin. Diabetes...GONE! Another buddy told me how inspired she was by me, that I was her hero. It seems I am the "wind removing pose" beneath her "eagle pose" wings. Time to fly.
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.
Are you participating in the challenge? Do you have an experience or some insight you want to share with readers? We are always looking for contributors for the Bikram 101 blog. Contact us to if you want to share!