Arrived in Canberra on a cold, but beautiful evening just as the sun was going down. I’ve never been to Canberra and it looked stunning as we drove into the city, sitting prettily in a gap with Mount Stromlo prominent above it. We left the Central Coast in torrential rain, driving a van with a bike rack and a dodgy hand-made, cardboard rego plate. It was a rushed affair and the van was packed to the gunnels with far too much stuff. We’d spent a mad week packing up and getting our house ready to be rented, whilst planning the logistics of the next four months and our move back to Scotland. Leaving the Coast was a rushed affair.
We decided to visit Bikram Canberra and catch up with the owner Gillian, who Jack met at Teacher Training in LA, 3 years ago. We attended her very busy Friday night class at 630pm. The good thing: it was HOT, 40 degree hot, and outside it was around 2 degrees. We actually felt like hitting the pub with all the other folk who were huddled around the hotel bar on a Friday night, but we knew the yoga would be good for us, even if it felt like it was killing us!
The thing about 90 minutes in a hot, sweaty 40 degree room, where the goal is to perform 26 postures as best as you can, twice through, is that there is no hiding from the past, the present or the future. Every bit of bad food, alcohol, and too much coffee, come dripping out of you in the 90 minutes. Everything you’ve dealt with mentally during the day, or for us, during a very busy week, comes out. There is no talking in class and you look forward at yourself in the mirror, whilst the dialogue from the teacher guides you into each posture: there are no demonstrations from the teachers. The front row of the class is there to be strong for you and only those who are confident go up front as they will ‘lead’ the class. If you feel like I did, you choose further back where there is no pressure. There are zero distractions in Bikram, just a consistent heat which makes you sweat and the more toxic you are, the more you struggle. A good teacher once told me ‘Healthy bodies never struggle in the heat’ and she was right. Some days I go to class and don’t notice the heat and barely get my heart rate up – Friday was not one of those days!
My balance was all over the place as I struggled to stand on one leg for a whole minute, which at the time, did not surprise me – when your mind is busy, your balance will be affected. I tried to concentrate and release all the thoughts of the week and focus on being grounded whilst the sweat kept coming. As all the thoughts melted away and my brain no longer felt like it was going to burst, one thought popped into my head, out of nowhere: I had forgotten a very important birthday, little Luke turned two last week and I had not contacted his mum and dad, back in Scotland, two of my closest friends to say ‘Well done, congrats, your little treasured man is now two’. For me to have forgotten his birthday says a lot about my state of mind, but right there in the room, it popped up and reminded me to get in touch and apologise and send my best wishes & love. It was in my brain all along, but the other stuff pushed it way back and Bikram cleared my head enough to let it through.
Leaving the room, I felt brand new again, all the side bends, back-bends, forward bends, compression postures and balancing on one leg loosened me up. Losing half my body weight in sweat felt pretty good too! (Well, it felt like half!) One thing that never seems to get mentioned that often about Bikram Yoga , is the fact that after each class your skin looks and feels like you’ve been for the best facial ever, it literally glows! If you’ve never tried a Hot Yoga class before, then give it a go. It’s hard and hot, especially when you are toxic in both body and mind, but you will come out the other side looking and feeling amazing. It shows us up and tells us where we are at: the harder it is, the harder we’ve been on our bodies. It’s a great benchmark.
Successful camper van sleeps: 0 (there is too much stuff on top of our mattress, we need to cull and clear some space – tonight’s the night)
Healthy food intake: mixed. If you are relying on roadside Seven Elevens or cafes and restaurants to provide you with nourishment, then it’s not great. Even the sushi at the roadside cafe had 20 ingredients, 10 of them being nothing to do with the seaweed wrap, rice and vegetables! A banana and a bag of organic salted popcorn was our best bet – time to start making our own food!
Exercise: 1 Hot yoga class and hopefully many more to go. 115 push-ups before beers (20 down to 2 – push-ups, not beers !!).