Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21: Breakdown or Breakthrough?

Tonight was 7pm up at Summerlin with Misha. By eagle posture, I could feel it was going to be a struggle for me again. I got really upset.
"Come on Michelle, you've been doing this for almost 3 years, what is wrong with you? Your body can do this, why are you suddenly making a such a big deal about the discomfort? You've got to find comfort in the discomfort"
"fuck that. This is just stupid and painful lately. I can't get into the postures as well as I could even just a month ago. I'm backsliding all of the sudden! And look at my midsection! That 12 pounds I struggled to lose last fall, with starvation and tears is back! My body is ugly and misshapen. It doesn't look like the body of someone who does Bikram as much as I do and for almost 3 years now!"
"Damn, OK, calm down. Focus. Breathe."
"I don't want to. In fact, I don't want to do this challenge at all anymore. It's pointless. I might as well shut down the stupid blog, stop doing this yoga and just be over 200 pounds again. I can't keep weight off anyway what's the friggin' use"
"............Ok, try to listen to the dialog. Try to stay in the room. Just breathe"
The internal monologue quieted down for a few postures. I kept going, praying it would stay quiet for the rest of the series. It didn't. Once we hit the floor for savasana I just hit a wall. Hot tears pricked at my eyes and my throat felt swollen as if a black ball of negative energy was welling up from my chest, blocking out any air. I laid there, trying to clear my mind of the negative self talk about weight. This is a never ending dialog with me and I'm tired of it. I flipped over to do the spine series and received some instruction on cobra. That got me out of my head for a bit, but unfortunately not the whole practice. I kept getting more upset, more sure I needed to give up on yoga on the challenge, on weight reduction, on dating on everything!
"Dating? Where did that come from? I'm not even dating, it's been a year since my last relationship. I'm taking time off to heal and learn."
Then the other voice came back and this time hit me with a whammy that left me breathless: "Oh really." It said with a sneer. "And why didn't your last relationship work out?"
"He told me from the very beginning that he can't do daily relationships and the he is unable to commit."
"Uh huh. Well then why did he immediately get another girlfriend at your same place of work and they now drive to work together every day for months now in her car, like an old married couple."
I lay there in final savasana digesting this. I didn't even realize it bothered me so much. I had buried it deep deep deep. I realized I have been angry at myself for ignoring a red flag and allowing myself to get hurt. I stood up to collect my things and looked at myself in the mirror in the darkness. I caught my eye and said "be kind, give yourself a break. you are not your weight. you are so much more than that. you will not ignore red flags next time. hey, you're ok"
I left the room and was my usual smiling self in the lobby after class. I certainly didn't solve anything, but I was honest with myself. It took 21 days of painful yoga to force it out of me. I've been too busy trying to be strong.
Sorry such a long post. I'm going to go pack the yoga bag for tomorrow! This challenge will not be about cute little improvements like finally wrapping my leg in eagle. Obviously this one is going after those inner layers of the onion.
I'm OK with that.


  1. Oh, that's a breakthrough! Good for you. I felt healing just reading this post. I am surprised every day about what yoga can bring out in us, or help us work through.

  2. No apologizing!!!! This is the GOOD stuff.

    Good for you, babe. One of my teachers has said: as soon as you know about a problem, you don't have it anymore. Now, maybe life isn't QUITE that simple... but sometimes, finding the problem is at LEAST half the job, right? As always, thanks for sharing... <3

  3. Wow - I have to tell you when I returned to Bikram even looking at myself in the mirror caused me to be near tears for a few months (not practicing every day.) It's a powerful practice, and it brings up really deep stuff. When it comes to judging your postures one day against the next, I want to say that I learned a great thing preparing for and at training. Even at my best, wtih best intentions, when practicing daily, I would have about 1-2 classes a week where my mental and physical abilities met for a "good" class. The rest of the time I was doing what I had to do to create the opportunity for the strong class.

    That means I became familiar with my "maintenance" level of practice. I had to learn to turn the struggleometer (also known as the judgeometer) down and just get to know my-body-feels-like-lead versions of all the postures as well as my rockstar postures.

    The truth is objectively they're not that far apart most of the time. The greatest gift I have from practicing as much as I did in 2009 is to BE COOL HUNNYBUNNY (like from pulp fiction) when I'm having a really hard class. You do what you can, 100% the right way. That is practice for the day!

    Congrats on making it through. You are stronger. As someone who has body issues as well - I am a teacher just over 200 lbs - I have grown a deep appreciation for what my body does for me in the yoga room. I don't focus so much on what it's not - thin and svelte or whatever.

  4. Nice. It's crazy what we store up-years of unresolved relationships and mangled emotions. I've noticied this especially during Camel (surprise?). I'll lay down in savasana and it feels like my heart is 5 times bigger; all the veins and arteries are pulsating, expanding out of my chest. It's intense. With it comes feelings that change all the time: joy, sorrow, confusion. It's a good sign that you're getting deeper, releasing negative energy and opening up past sorrows; it will free up your pracice.

  5. Thank you for such an honest post! I wish I could give you a big hug right now. And my dear, you are not alone with your feelings. Remember, none of us is perfect. We are all unique and that makes us all beautiful. You are such an amazing person. Think about all the people out there you motivate on a daily basis. Whether you know it or not you DO! I love your kick ass attitude and strength (you are stronger than you think).

    Dating...Ah yes isn't it so much fun? Over the years I've been hurt, made bad decisions, closed my self off from guys because I was too scared of being hurt again. I started to think...Why start a relationship because it’s just going to end badly with my heart being broken. Not a great attitude huh? I'm a chronic on and offer. So I'm that girl who has the record of going back to the same guys over and over. One has been in my life on & off for about 14 years! For the past 9 months there has been a guy in my life but I’m too scared to totally give in to a relationship. We laugh, have fun, have the same sense of humor, he knows how to brighten my day etc. But something is holding me back. And on the flipside, he’s scared too. He’s been hurt and is cautious too. I think by this age we are all a little scarred. We need to figure out how to erase those scars or at least fade them a little bit, you know? Sometimes I know I have such a big wall around me. I’m tough to break. So I say we make a pact, BYC, a pact to let our guards down a bit. Let’s not be so scared of being hurt. Let’s try to follow our hearts. Easier said than done? Perhaps, but worth a shot.

    Find what makes you feel good, what makes you happy, what makes you smile. Nothing is perfect but we should all have more good days than bad days. You DESERVE happiness not tears. You spread so much cheer to everyone else you need some too! Sending you a big smile from the east coast.

  6. Sisya~ It feels like a breakthrough because I am at peace today.
    DancingJ~I like that. As soon as you know about a problem you don't have it anymore. Nice!
    ariella~ thank you so much for the sage advice! It sounds like you can relate with me and that makes me feel so much better. I'm going to focus on "maintenance" practice the next few days and try to turn down my strugglemeter.
    Christopher~ "negative energy and opening up past sorrows; it will free up your pracice" I really really like that sentence. thank you!
    Tracik~ Coming over to pay a visit on your site and respond to your comment! :)

  7. Any class in the hot room is better than none. I know that's hard to believe when you want to run out of the room screaming!

  8. Break-THROUGH , never a break-DOWN.

    It's often times like these that you learn MUCH about yourself - and practice patience, tolerance and compassion for yourself :)


  9. Wow! I was totally thinking about breakdown vs breakthrough yesterday! Breakdown TO breakthrough. That is how I perceived it at training. Craig said something that made me think: When you are crying, instead of "what's wrong" think "what is right with this"? So often we perceive tears as bad, wrong, when they are really cleansing, letting go and if you find that nugget inside, WOW! peel that onion!

  10. Yoga is such an emotional practice!! And the one thing a teacher told us all in class one day that stuck out.. "Don't ever say anything to yourself that you would never say to someone else!" You would never look at someone and say "Look, you can't even lose that weight!" Be nice to yourself.. You're doing wonderful:)

  11. My, my. Some of these comments are long enough to be blog posts! Look at what you've stirred up! :)

    We learn, each day. Plain and simple. About ourselves, our yoga, our friends, our family, our jobs---you name it. The difference is the person who is open to these lessons, however sharp or bitter, vs. the person who remains closed to them. You choose, daily, to open yourself. And therein lies all the difference.

  12. BigG~ As long as I can walk, I will walk into that studio tonight! I stole that from you! :)

    Mei~ **MEGA Hugs Back!** I miss you!

    Lynxofsilver~Thank you for sharing the Craig quote. I have taken one of his seminars and just adore him. I can picture him saying that!

    Cat~ That needs to become my new mantra , be nice to myself. sage advice, thank you!

    Hannah~ I know, right? Good peeps hanging around these here bikram blogs! The truth is a bitter pill to swallow. But I'd rather dig down with that knife and feel the pain of revelation than to grow stagnant. I will just continue on, swallowing whatever pills this challenge forces down my choked throat.

  13. I'd go for breakthrough!

    You are so opening yourself and before it can be gone it has to be there again. What a wonderful time to take care of this now! You are strong, you know that you can practice, you have 80 more days to just blast into yourself!
    This is the wonderful thing with challenges, you never know what it will come with.
    It is so wonderful that you now can take the time to work through this.

    Think what would have happened if this would have happened during your first challenge or your first weeks of training? Maybe you would quit.

    Now you wont, because you know that they daily yoga will heal it all.

    I wish I could give you a BIG BIG hug.

  14. Hey, thanks for posting such an honest rendition of what you're going through. It is familiar to me and, in an odd, probably fucked-up way, makes me feel a little better about what I struggle with in the class! Our struggles are universal, in the end, but we need to share them again and again to be reminded of that.

  15. Hi M!!!
    I agree with lynxofsilver who said it is a breakdown TO a breakthrough.

    Just think what happens to our bodies on a cellular leval: it breaks down the waste, the dead cells and rebuilds new, healthy ones. Look back to your knee injuries, what happened? Your hardened scar tissues got broken down slowly but surely and it was MAD MAD painful and it sucked but look at the result of your hard work and perseverance? You have healthy, strong, fully functional knees. It is the same with our emotional selves. We fortify our walls and build them higher and stronger to keep ourselves from feeling pain and getting hurt. And the moment we decide to start chipping away or setting dynamite to the wall, it will also be MAD MAD painful and it will suck. But trust, like you did with your knees, that your determination, fortitude, and perseverance will break that emotinal scar tissue away.

    BIG BEAR HUGS!!!!!

  16. Whoa, what a honest post. Thank you for sharing. I have to agree with Traci, it is clear even from your blog that you are an amazing person.

    Traci, thank you for sharing as well.

    I think almost all of us have had those bad relationships were we new from the start it wasn't right. Sometime it's hard to stand up to yourself. It sounds like your are ready to forgive yourself, I wish you the best of luck with that.

    From what I've managed to gather about challenges the second 30 days can be very emotional. So I guess your just way ahead of us in this challenge. :-)

  17. AHappyYogi~ I would never have continued on! That is a great point. I'm at the point in my practice where I can get through this!
    Yolk E~ I always feel good when somebody can relate to my struggles. Makes me feel less alone. We are all connected, aren't we?
    Action JoJo~ I love the way you related that to my knee injury. It's embarrassing to talk about vulnerabilities with emotions. So to compare it to a knee makes it more "ok" to allow myself to work through these feelings. Thank you for that!
    Johan~ Perhaps when everybody else starts getting emotional I can be done and then I can help them! :)

  18. so i'm not going crazy?! thanks for the story..
    I've only started practicing just over two week ago but have been going pretty hard at it and have found myself really angry and upset the past two weeks and haven't been able to understand why?? I've since spoken to my yoga instructor and I am now breathing a sigh of relief that i'm NOT going crazy and this is all just part of my BY journey.. I'm hoping it passes over the next few weeks.. *fingers crossed*