Posted by: kerryalina | 2 April 2012

Challenge Class 42: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

“When you first started this challenge,” asked a friend as we drove home last night.  “Did you think you’d be able to finish it?”
“Yes…”  I hesitated, then changed my answer.  “No.  I knew I could physically complete it… but I thought I’d give up.  Because that’s what I do.  That’s what I’ve always done.”

This is in no way an exaggeration.  I have a fairly well-documented routine when it comes to exercise:

  • Step 1: Join a gym/download a running program.
  • Step 2: Stick to it religiously (fanatically!) for four to six weeks.
  • Step 3: Buy a bunch of new exercise-specific clothing/accessories.
  • Step 4: Stop halfway through the next workout, walk out and never return.

It’s even happened with Bikram, when I first discovered it four years ago.  I signed up at the South Melbourne studio – the closest to home, but still an exhausting 90 minute trip on public transport – and nearly died in my first class.  I dragged myself home, where my flatmate took one look at my bedraggled hair and sopping wet clothes and doubtfully asked me how it went.  “Great!” I chirped.  Then collapsed on the couch.

I struggled through my first fortnight, then got hooked and completed 25 days of a 30 day challenge.  There was nothing to stop me finishing it… but on Day 26, somewhere around Triangle pose, I endured the teacher’s scathing looks and thinly veiled criticism in order to *gasp* leave the room.  I took my mat with me, knowing that I would never go back.  Catching the tram home, I was consumed with self-recriminations and disgust at my own weakness.  I didn’t step foot in a Bikram studio again until last year.

I still don’t know why it happened, not really.  What I do know is that I spent the first six months of my current practice waiting for it to happen again.  Hell, I’m still waiting for that other shoe to drop.  Every time I buy a new yoga outfit, I listen to that small mocking voice, whispering “You know you’ll never get a chance to wear it.”  When a pre-Christmas discount prompted me to invest in a three month membership, I did it “knowing” it was a waste of money since I’d never keep practicing for that long.  Every time I skipped a class – or a week of classes – I was sure I’d never show my face in the hot room again.  This challenge, then, was sure to be the last straw.  The thing that drove me away from Bikram for good.  And yet, I keep returning.

For me, I think the secret to success was finding the right activity at the right time.  These days I have a studio around the corner from my flat, a job that finishes in time for me to make it to class… a desire to extend and better myself and a series that lets me do just that.  As for the right activity: running outside is scarily dark for six months of the year; using a treadmill is mind-numbingly boring.  Group fitness and dance classes perfectly illustrate how utterly uncoordinated I am and my lack of proprioception turns lifting weights an extreme sport.  There was nothing in any of these that could hold my interest for more than a few weeks.  But… Bikram.  Bikram gives me something challenging enough that it’s always a struggle, but achievable enough that I steadily improve.  Complicated enough that I have to focus and concentrate deeply, enabling me to let go of everything else in my life.  And perhaps most importantly for my peace of mind, there’s no frustration or despair at being unable to keep up with a programme – my abilities ebb and flow in my day-to-day practice, but progress naturally over time.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In the meantime though, I’m trying to focus more on the now.  Embracing my achievements without predicting my eventual failure.  Accepting my abilities without doubt… and with just a little bit of wonder.  And, always, remembering to love.  Love myself.  Love the yoga.  Love this moment and past moments and all the moments still to come.  Love.

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Responses

  1. beautifully written!
    be gentle and remember that every step in the right direction is a huge accomplishment!

  2. I love this post because I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had that same exercise routine before. And you know what? Ever since I started yoga, I completely stopped going to the gym and running. I used to think the only way to be fit was to run.. and run alot. Yoga has really changed my mind about that… I’ve realized how yoga does keep your body fit, but more than that, gives you so much more for your entire being.

    • “I used to think the only way to be fit was to run.. and run a lot.” YES, me too! And I’d try so hard and ended up just hating every. single. second. I was fitter (slightly, anyway), but just dreaded the running so much it wasn’t worth it. It was improving my body at the expense of my overall wellbeing.

  3. Lovely. I can absolutely relate to waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s something I am working on, because it’s a terrible feeling. It helps me to just try to be present and grateful. I’m also amazed that I’ve not gotten bored of yoga – like I did with the treadmill, trail running, kickboxing, nia, step classes…….. :) thanks for sharing!

    • Ikr! I think the reason I haven’t gotten bored of yoga is that it’s so mentally involved. With all the other activities I’ve tried – running, gym, etc – it’s either so mind-numbingly repetitive or so unpleasant that I spend the whole time trying to turn my brain off or distract myself. You know – music while running, watching TV at the gym, etc. But with Bikram, you can’t afford to focus on anything other than the exact placement of your hands, contracting the correct muscles and ensuring you have enough space between each vertebra. It’s kind of amazing like that :)

  4. Love this post! I too can completely relate. I’m a serial quitter when it comes to exercise. I’m finally in a routine that has lasted more then 6 months so far and for me that’s a major record!

    • Congrats! It’s such an awesome feeling when things just fall into place (although that’s a deceptive phrase for something that takes a hell of a lot of hard work!). I remember reading all these articles over the years about how it only takes two weeks to establish a new habit and just thinking… hahaha NO. But when you ARE eventually able to stick with it, it feels incredible :)


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