The Star (Nairobi)

13 July 2013

Kenya: 101 Days of Bikram Yoga Later

In the last 101 days, I have been doing a 100-day Bikram Yoga challenge. The rules are: you take a class daily, you become a nicer person, and you have to turn up and on day 101. So 101 classes between April 2 and July 11... whew! So what did I get out of spending so much time in Bikram's torture chamber, as he calls it? Here is a short list, which in itself was hard to summarise.

1.My word is powerful - I gave my word to myself and I kept it. I think for most of us, it is easier to keep promises to others, than it is to keep promises to ourselves. I am now experiencing myself as trustworthy and reliable.

2.I have been under-estimating myself for years, thinking that I am physically weak, but that is simply not true.

3.Radical self-acceptance - there are days when I turned up and had a great class as my body moved like a well-oiled machine. Other days my body was tired and could barely hold me up. The bad days forced me to accept what my body gave me to work with without judgment.When you know that you kicked butt yesterday and your ego is screaming 'You are not doing well!' radical self-acceptance helps you to shut your ego up.

4.You can change your body shape. My posterior has been the brunt of many jokes but not anymore, I am glad and proud to report that I now have a butt that fills jeans out quite nicely.

5.'She is doing the best that she can' - this phrase has become something of a mantra for me. I used to judge other people's yoga practice and think things like "Can't she hear the teacher? Arms up not sideways". Now I know that some days, despite your attempts at obedience, your body simply will not comply so you do the best that you can. Some days, despite a matatu driver's best intentions, he really has been driving for so many hours that he cannot be considerate of me on the road... he is doing the best that he can.

6. Haba na haba hujaza kibaba - I turned up, I worked hard and I am reaping results.This is how people build dreams, great relationships, smaller waistlines and even raise great kids... shortcuts are a hoax, turn up daily and do the work.

7. Fruits and vegetables are your friend. This level of physical activity demands fuel and protein.I found that meat is hard to digest so I have been eating githeri and ndengu a lot more and I feel great.

8. Working out makes your hair grow.

9.Once you decide to do something, stop thinking about it and analysing yourself, just do it and try to enjoy it.

10.As Audre Lorde said, "caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." She was talking about black women, the world expecting so little of us, and finding the idea that we might take care of ourselves laughable. My body is the first tool God gave me to achieve what He put me here to do; to neglect it in anyway would be gross misconduct.

Oh and for all of you who don't know, yes yoga will make you lose weight and get your skin glowing.

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