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I was in the bathroom after class, pressing my face and body against the cool metal wall of the stall – wishing I would just throw up and then die and get it over with.

That is my most vivid memory of my first Bikram class.

I always love hearing about people’s first experiences with Bikram. It’s like hearing about how a couple first met. Some people take to it immediately. Others not-so-much. I was a not-so-much person.

I don’t like extreme things. I don’t respond to tough love. I hate the heat, I hate saunas, I hate sweat.

On the surface, there is no reason I should love Bikram.

But I do. A lot.

However, the early part of our relationship was rocky.

When I walked in to the hot room for the first time, I remember thinking that I couldn’t spend five minutes in a room that hot. This was ridiculous. This had to be dangerous.

I sat out many, many postures. Can’t remember how many because I think I was blacking out.

Halfway through, I noticed that I couldn’t hear anything. The teacher was talking like one of those teachers from Charlie Brown, all I heard was blood rushing through my ears. Trying to figure out my left from my right felt like deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Lying on my back felt like running a marathon.

When class ended, I wanted to cry the way you do when you realize things might be alright after all. I had survived.

I walked out of the studio and decided Bikram yoga people were all nuts; like the people who get a kick out of doing those army-like obstacle courses, covered in slimy mud.

But on the Bikram yoga studio website it said you should do three classes before you judge. Being an avid rule follower, I dragged my still-aching body back to the studio three days later. The second class was a little better and the third class felt like an IV of joy pumped directly into my soul.

I was hooked.

Three years later, that studio feels like second home. It is the place where I get amazing support. It is the place where I detox, renew and connect.

It’s where I go to feel better, to heal my stiff body, clear my wandering mind and calm my anxious heart. Yes, it’s still a place where I work hard, but not so hard that I disconnect. I work so hard that I finally feel everything and I finally stop running away from life.

So, it’s a good reminder for me not to judge anything too quickly. Who knows where something might lead? I never would have guessed that place where I was pressing my face against a bathroom stall would end up being where I go to celebrate this body, this moment and this life.

How was your first class?

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