"Welcome to Bikram's Torture Chamber," said the tall and lean man standing before me on a platform. "Kill yourself for the next 90 minutes." It is not normally the most enticing of introductions or by any means a method to ease the nerves of the anxious students of Bikram Yoga but the class continues as we move into the first breathing exercise. 106 degrees. 90 minutes. 26 postures. 1 happy girl. That's right. I am standing close enough to touch three other people, sweat dripping from every curve and angle of my body, and I am smiling from ear to ear.
I have not done Bikram since last year so I was expecting that this experience would be just what the teacher warned: a torture chamber. Twelve months out of practice but somehow I am tackling poses like never before. Finally nailing the camel pose. Not begging for air but breathing just fine. I am surrounded by a sea of red faces and I am smiling like a giddy toothless first grader. Because I Am Beautiful. Because I Am Healthy. Because I Am Alive.
Too often we forget how much our bodies really do for us. We forget that they sustain us and that they keep us kicking day after day, that they work extremely hard to give us the endurance and strength to live up to our potential for over 12 hours at a time. We criticize and scrutinize our bodies. We compare our bodies to those of others. We long for better shoulders, a tinier waist and a reduction of a cursed muffin top. But put yourself in the shoes of your body for one moment (I know it sounds weird but you totally get it), how would it feel to be on the receiving end? To constantly be told you are not good enough. That you need improvement. To no matter how much progress you make, you will never stand in comparison to others. Would that make you want to work harder? Most likely not.
I began a partnership with my body in September. I decided to treat my body as a friend rather than an enemy. I began listening to my body and realizing that I would not be too happy either if I was constantly being force fed crap (fried and fast food) and then be left as the one to take the blame.
This, my friends, was not an over night transformation by any means and there are times when I am still hard on my body, aren't we all? But through educating myself on nutrition and exercise I began to edge my way towards more effective workouts and better diet regimens. I discovered foods that would make my body happy, would boost my energy levels and would keep my metabolism going strong.
There is a quote that I live by when it comes to nutrition. "Don't do anything today that you could not do for the rest of your life." It makes sense. Can I completely erase carbs from my vocab? Absolutely not! Can I get a restraining order against my sweet tooth? Nope. But I can make simple changes. Every single day. What I decided upon is not a diet. It is a life style change. I am actively making healthier choices because my body feels better when I do. And my body does so much for me, this is the best possible way to return the favor.
People often ask me about my journey away from processed and fried foods, my switch to whole grains and all natural foods. It is as if "organic" is a magic and yet mysterious word and almost every day I am met with the misconception, "Doesn't it cost so much more to go organic?" (Which by the way, the answer is no. Trader Joe's= Heaven sent). But what I am doing everyday is not that different, nor alien or foreign. I am simply asking, "Hey Body, what would make you feel your best today? Cheetos or Veggies?" And for the first time I am actually listening to the response.
Don't worry; I am not trying to convert the masses into nutrition label lovers, just proclaiming that I started taking care of myself and the results have been amazing. I am in the best shape of my life, I have more energy than ever before and my mood is naturally sky high because I am using the right stuff to get my motor moving every morning.
Think for a moment today of how you would feel if you switched places with your body. Are you treating your body well enough? Are you criticizing rather than praising? Are you planning a thousand routes towards improvement but never finding a road to acceptance?
106 degrees declined as the lights switched off at the end of the class. 90 minutes passed. 26 postures came and went. 1 girl left the classroom. Still smiling. Proud of the progress she has made. Finally giving her body it's own voice.
Ps. If anyone is ever looking to talk about a more natural/ organic diet and/or a lifestyle change shoot me an email at HBrencher@live.com. It is a passion and a love for me.