Guest Post: Ashton Doyle // @ashtondoyle
I never considered myself to be “a yoga person.”In my mind, yoga people sat around cross-legged and chanted. They didn’t drink booze or eat anything with eyes. They rode bikes to their non-profit jobs and volunteered at soup kitchens on weekends. And they certainly didn’t swear or make snarky comments. Basically, I assumed people who practiced yoga were my polar opposites.That is, until I discovered Bikram Yoga nine years ago.On paper, Bikram appears to be everything I hate. It’s ridiculously hot (110+ degrees). It’s disgustingly sweaty (see prior). It’s shockingly intimate (think: men in Speedos). It’s a major time commitment (90+ minutes). And, to add insult to injury, it’s damn expensive ($135+/month).Oh, and it’s really hard. I mean, really fucking hard. Passing out in class is surprisingly common. Throwing up is less common, but not unheard of. And those are just the physical reactions. The mental toughness required to restrain yourself from running out the door 60 minutes into the class can be overwhelming to maintain.So why do I love it so much? Why do I find daily, ongoing inspiration in being surrounded by 40 half naked strangers while struggling to balance on one foot and lift the other above my head?Because it’s simply amazing.It’s amazing to see people of all ages and body types truly push themselves to their physical limits. It’s amazing to develop the mental fortitude to rise above the heat and discomfort. It’s amazing to discover how much you can control your mind and your body with your breath. It’s amazing to realize the sheer potential of your own body. And it’s amazing to have 90 minutes to think of nothing but finding balance. Both mentally and physically.Bikram grounds me. It reminds me that I’m stronger than I think. It reminds me that everything painful has an end – and that you will come out the other side a better person for having experienced it. And it reminds me to stay in the moment, to stay focused and to just keep showing up, even when I don’t feel like it.Nine years later, I still don’t really consider myself “a yoga person.” But I do consider myself incredibly fortunate for having discovered Bikram yoga.Bikram (and my fellow Bikram yogis) inspires me. It challenges and changes me, even on days when I am not in the studio. It has opened my mind in new ways. And I am profoundly grateful for it.Namaste.