Please take the following post at its face value: a story of girl meets Yoga 🙂 . There are many with more serious problems than mine was and I do not wish to elevate mine above others by posting it here. Nor do I apply my experience to others in the room as some sort of template; everybody is different. It is just that this experience may be a helpful reference for someone. Please see my website profile in which I state that Yoga does not purport to provide a cure for life but it does present a proven method for coping with what it throws at you.
SO WHAT DROVE ME INTO MY FIRST YOGA CLASS? Actually, Yoga was a last resort action for me. Whilst many people come to Yoga simply to seek a holistic method of taking care of their fitness and wellbeing physically and mentally, others are malady driven in the hopes of reducing or eliminating them. Of course it is not that black ‘n white and there will be combinations of reasons and intentions with different degrees of significance attached to them. I was from the ‘particular malady’ category and did not anticipate the myriad of benefits I would get, I was so focused on one thing; I had insomnia. The kind where I wouldn’t sleep for two nights then sleep for one, then not for three and have exhaustion sleep for half a night. In total I was in this cycle, with-no-intermission, for four whole years; age 25-29. Like most westerners I wanted a quick fix. First stop GP. I got through all the ‘e-pams’ but the deal with them is that after a while they just don’t work anymore. The one thing I never did ‘tho was miss a day of work because of insomnia; I was on my own over here with no family around me. Some intelligence inside told me that if I started missing work because of this ill, all would be lost, I could start watching my life disintegrate. If any of you have ever had insomnia you know how it can take over your life. From the moment you arise red/bleary-eyed in the morning your every spare moment/thought is all about how you might achieve sleep that night. I was 25 with limited life experience, had no nearby interested other party, I was very low and my pattern of thoughts was always on the “unfair, why me, etc etc” line. The negative effects of such a condition can be so detrimental to you physically and mentally, I looked skeletal, my world got very small and I lost perspective. At that age and in such a state you can think (rightly or wrongly) that no-one takes your problem seriously or even believes you. In those days ‘Self’ was not important to me; in truth I didn’t realise it existed in the sense I know now and therefore I did not know that it had any value. I lived so much in my head and was focused on that or superficial external things that I allowed to press on me.
I was not ‘online’ in those days (WOTNOGOOGLE! :)) but discovered there are thousands of books written on insomnia so it is a very real condition, yet I wasn’t meeting anyone I could talk to who had experienced what I was going through. Where were all the insomniacs the books write about? It is surprising how much sleep you can do without and still function ‘normally’. One night, two nights I was okay; three nights and I would go cross-eyed and slightly crazed if things didn’t pan out as I expected (slight exaggeration but I strongly felt the potential for ‘losing it’ or ‘gaining lunacy’ after a 3 night stint). So I moved up the ‘e-pams’, stronger and stronger prescriptions and one long night (before an exam day) I took an accidental overdose. That scared the bejeebers out of me as you might imagine. (Anyone who has ever been in that situation will understand how that can happen; if you have not then you may have trouble getting your head around the possibility and so I apologize if this offends anyone); do ask me at the studio if you want to know. Anyway, time to find another ‘cure’. I was not passive about trying to fix myself 🙂 . I made lifestyle changes, dietary changes (even gave up my beloved coffee for six years at this time!), tried anything that had a whiff of promoting good sleep attached to it, I started delving into alternative remedies (I won’t list), I even tried a quack :). There is no quick fix for this condition. Remedies often treat the symptom in the short term but knowing and treating the cause for long term resolution is a whole other ballgame; you have to first accept that there might be a cause (emotional or otherwise). I was in denial and misery and didn’t know that there could be any ‘other’ way of dealing with life and its problems. Anyway after a series of un-successes I stumbled into Bikram Yoga at the grand old age of 27.5 in July 1998, (insomnia 2 years in).
90 minutes later… 🙂 I was gripped. From that first class BIKRAM YOGA ‘held me tight’; my way forward was illuminated – it was like someone had flicked a light switch in my head to ON…
It didn’t cure my insomnia, on the contrary, whilst I didn’t know it at the time, the backward bends were so stimulating I was left rearing to go late into the evening, full of beans (I learned much later how to manage this so that didn’t happen). What it did do was bring me a new sense of calm, clearing my head, introducing me to proper breathing; I didn’t even know it before that my breath was ‘stuck’ in my chest and I was stuck in sympathetic nervous system fight or flight mode 24/7. I started to think about my sleepless nights in a different way. I used my newly learned ‘Savasana’ pose as a frame for relaxing my body in bed and work on my breathing; in turn my consciousness got a break from the endless lower mind loop of negative thinking. ‘Endless’ nights became long calm nights instead of frustrated, agitated, resentful, tearful nights. An acceptance came that insomnia was part of my current state and could be for some unknown time to come and I just had to manage it in a different way than I had before. Hey! I had tried everything else anyway so it was time for a paradigm shift 🙂 ! I think in this case, acceptance was the beginning of my ‘cure’. And so I managed to get a form of rest even if I wasn’t sleep. It was another two years before my sleeping pattern improved.
There is no quick fix for many of life’s maladies. I went through denial, frustration, acceptance and then the respites from sleeplessness came more and more until eventually it normalised. Somehow, somewhen along the way, the asanas and my effort at them interpreted my ‘particular malady’ (and probably others I had as well) and my body and mind found equilibrium. Even though I didn’t get the immediate cure I wanted, the benefits were so many that I could not wait to get back to my second class. I got SO MUCH MORE than I expected. Possibly I was so rock bottom and had neglected my body, mind and spirit so much that by the time I took up Yoga there was nowhere to go but UP and that may be why I experienced every type of benefit available you could imagine :); AND I remember the joy of attaining each one as if I got them yesterday (the elephant in me :)). It would take too long to list the number of things that Yoga addresses (it is holistic after all) that combined helped my body/mind achieve harmony. It enabled me to be active in my own healing process and I finally realized I was deserving of healing. I am ever grateful for Bikram Yoga and its gifts. Yoga doesn’t discriminate. Yoga knows what you need. The gifts are there, waiting for the willing. The comparison of my life before and after Bikram Yoga is just too long to list here; I will just say that the latter is RICH RICH RICH beyond compare.
Om Shanti ~ Trisha
If you have got this far, THANK YOU for reading. This sounds mad I know, but on re-reading my post something struck me – it sounds a bit sanitized almost impartial; like I was writing a story about somebody else. So I wondered did I unintentionally spin the tale a bit or was something missing. Then I realized I had just let go of all that ‘stuff’, that’s all and in letting go I had forgotten. Therefore it is now hard to evoke the feelings that accompanied that period, the story doesn’t feel like it belongs to me or is about me – certainly not the person I am now. So all that was missing was a shade from that particular time in life. It is amazing what passage of time, Yoga, meditation and many years working on removing limiting beliefs and practicing positive thinking can do to an old tale. If I were able to travel back in time and write this during first 2 years of insomnia this story would have a whole other hue to it and it would be very dark. I may have covered the triggers of such a condition and accompanying depression, feeling uncomfortable in own skin (real Plath/Sartre stuff), imitation of others because of lack of trust in self, feeling like a write-off, use of ‘alternative’ alternative remedies. Such a tale may have left you feeling miserable indeed. But I want this page to be uplifting to people, give them another option to mull over, I want anybody who has such feelings to know there is another way. The light switch that went on in my brain at that first Yoga class showed other hues, other ways, no going back, no dwelling, always forward. At the end of such a tale I KNOW everyone can pursue stillness and bliss. It is there for the taking and EVERYone is deserving. The End. (pinky promise 🙂 )
Namaste ~ Trisha