I like to think of myself as a rational person. Not normal by any stretch of the imagination, but rational. I listen to these yogis, followers and religious types and wonder: what are they thinking? I mean sure, the blind faith and trust must be utterly blissful. Oh, to be ignorant. Their strange ways, the way they talk and ponder life and the world. Why, they must live in some alternate dimension. Where they even get some of these ideas and beliefs – why, it’s as if they’re straight out of some kind of biblical canon!
And yet each time I have found a solution to my problems in life, health and being, it’s been an unconventional (non-Western) one. My new doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome seemed odd, as I was only 27 at the time. But my symptoms were concerning, and systemic. I have never been one to simply treat symptoms or accept medication as the solution so observing the Western and non-Western qualifications hanging on the wall of this doctor’s consultation room, I agreed to tolerate months of a combination of hypnosis and strange potions, and literature. Having discovered acupuncture years earlier, I was sceptical but not surprised by my improvements following the treatment my doctor prescribed.
Two years later I was still struggling to find ways to de-stress and enjoy restful sleep. My doctor referred me to a well-regarded physiotherapist to help with my stiff neck, shoulders and back. But after two months of weekly appointments I decided I couldn’t continue treating the symptoms and expect the problem to go away. It was some six months later before I found the time to identify and try an alternative solution, and on 15 December 2013 I started practising Bikram Yoga.
I hadn’t ever practised any form of yoga before and was pleased to find that it was a real challenge. And as with all challenges, I set upon it with my full attention and an open mind. I attended 9 classes on a 30-day introductory pass. I purchased and digested Bikram Choudhury’s book on the program (the hard cover version with the rad photo of Bikram on the front). I listened as best I could, hearing a little more with each visit. I was able to participate in a little more each class. And I started to enjoy a long and blissful savasana after each session. Falling asleep after most classes, in fact!
It was the most I had moved all of my body in years. I was always relatively fit but I find it difficult to find time to stay active. With a desk job requiring semi-frequent travel, I spend long periods of time in front of screens or sitting around boardroom tables. So, at the time, I felt was living the sedentary life but for the odd run, hike or mountain biking trip.
Soon after I started practising Bikram Yoga, I stopped running. My muscle tone and overall strength improved, but proportionately and sustainably. My sleep and ability to rest improved, and I am now able to even sleep/ rest on the plane! And I have a really simple but challenging set of reference points to measure up against.
I have a long way to go yet. But I understand that it is a journey. There is no end game, only a room with a door, a mirror and a set dialogue to be guided by. It is up to me to listen, to find the strength to breathe, to work into and hold the posture, to identify the shortcomings and make adjustments accordingly. For I am in control. I have the strength within. And I have the courage to push myself.
I make time for my practise, no matter how my week is going, or who is demanding my time. I arrive earlier to each session to allow myself the time that I deserve – sometimes even earlier so that I can unplug from all devices and clear my mind. I enjoy the different perspectives, commentaries and suggestions that each teacher gives and will always make time to visit other studios when I am travelling to listen to other narratives and interpretations of the dialogue. But I am grateful for the traditional 90-minute classes offered at the Original Hot Yoga Perth. I still haven’t tried any other forms of yoga but I have made the mistake of attending a 60-minute “Hot Yoga” class offered by other studios on a couple of occasions. The timetable at OHYP means I can attend two Bikram Yoga classes each week, sometimes even three!
Over the years, friends, family and colleagues have observed that I have become even more calm and collected, particularly in adversity. I had one colleague identify that I was very similar to a good friend of his. This good friend had referred me to this person to assist with a corporate transaction. This colleague said that his good friend and I were very similar: no matter what, we always manage to keep our cool. You know, Dom does Bikram Yoga too? he said. I didn’t know that, I replied. But that does explain a lot.