Posted by: kerryalina | 17 March 2012

Challenge Class 30: Be Careful What You Wish For

As I walked to class, I had one thought running through my head: “I’m halfway through my challenge!  I hope something truly remarkable happens in class today.”

Okay, okay, that’s two thoughts.  But I still should have known better.

As I settled into Pranayama breathing, the woman next to me blanched and lay down.  As I revelled in my pain-free neck and my first backbend in days, she trembled and shook on her mat.  As I took my party time sip of water, she struggled to breathe.  And as I finished the balancing series, she shut her eyes and became unresponsive to the teacher’s queries.

“Honey,” the teacher said, worried.  “I can’t check you’re okay if you don’t stay present.  How about you sit in the corridor for some cool air?”

The woman slowly lurched to her feet and staggered out the door.  As the teacher returned to her podium, she passed by my mat and earnestly whispered an entreaty – “Would you mind checking on her?  Please?


We sat on the bench outside the studio and talked.  It was her fourth class and she was expecting to be better at it by now.  “You will be,” I assured her.  “But it takes time.  Be patient.”

She was embarrassed that she’d sat out so many postures; ashamed to be sent out of the room.  She felt like everyone was staring and laughing at her.  “It happens to everyone,” I smiled.  “And they’re all concentrating too much on their own practice to notice yours.”

She suffers from severe depression and felt useless, pathetic and overwhelmed.  “I used to as well,” I confided.  “Stick with the practice.  It’s hard.  It’s really hard.  But it helps.  I can’t begin to describe just how much it helps.”

We sat and talked.  She ran to the toilet to throw up; I fetched some damp hand towels and a coconut water to cleanse her face and rehydrate her body.  She said she felt bad for taking me away from the hot room and I laughed.  “This is my tenth class in a row,” I said.  “I could do with a break.”

We talked some more.  She’s in such a similar place to my own when I started.  Struggling just to stay afloat; feeling like it’s useless to even try.  I’m shocked at how familiar her questions are – and by just how many of them I have answers to.  Something I never could have believed last year.

At last the teacher came out and checked on us.  Unlocked the front door and walked the woman out.  Motioned me back into the hot room, where I settled into Savasana.  The heat hits me like a wall after the chill in the corridor, but it’s familiar and comforting and what I crave.


As new friends cross my path after class, they stop to chat.  “Was it annoying to miss half the class?  Aren’t you upset?”  I don’t know how to respond, so I laugh nervously and shake my head.  How do I explain that I’ve been there – sent out of the room because I couldn’t stop crying?  That I sat by myself in the corridor, my body wracked with sobs and sadness and suffering and shame… and that I’d never felt so alone?  That I would rather miss a month of classes than have someone else endure the same?

I highly doubt that my life will be in any way negatively impacted because I missed half an hour of Bikram on the 17th of March 2012.  But what I desperately hope is that she will feel just slightly less alone for having someone sit and talk with her for those same 30 minutes.



  1. This one brought tears to my eyes! Thank you, thank you thank you! For being there for her, for you, and for sharing it with all of us.

  2. Sometimes…. the most “remarkable” part of our practice happens when we step off our mat. Namaste.

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