June 1, 2013

Skinny Love: Skin & Bones.

‘That’s why I say that the darkest place in the world is under the brightest lamp.”

For part one, click here.

I just had the worst day of my life, when I received this email from Los Angeles, with some good news.

Bikram had chosen me to award the full teacher training scholarship to become a Bikram Yoga Certified Teacher.

It had been a steady climb to get back into the game of life, but this email meant even more that that: I was back on top.

When I talked to my mentor at the time, ever so cautious, he said: “Ash, you will need to put on more weight.” He was understanding that it was a sensitive subject, but alluding to the intensity of the training it was a valid piece of advice. He let me know that no matter what he would always be by my side, as a mentor and a friend.

By the time I had hit my late teenage years, I had hit a brick wall. Bored senseless at university, studying a profession I had hardly knew or cared about, in a relationship that was crumbling beneath my feet. It was getting more difficult to see the bright side of life and the future prospects seemed futile.

“I know,”I replied nervously. And I did. But the fact of the matter was there was a huge distinction between my perception of weight with others. Worries about my body had been burdening me for the past year—the pressure was mighty and constant.

The very thought of not being able to control at least one aspect of my life was daunting.

I used the next few weeks as momentum to get into the best shape possible for training; both physically and mentally. I sought the advice of fellow teachers, who each lamented their experience was grueling, and so correct hydration and nutrition was essential.

I took in their advice, yet part of me was convinced they were lying—or that they exaggerated the truth.

After a month of preparation, I was ready. Or perhaps overly prepared; I had studied all the necessary requirements, exceedingly so. Physically, well not much had changed by way of weight.

Nevertheless, I pressed on—nothing could slow me down or get in my way.

The training was another world altogether.

Picture this: Palm Springs, paradise in the desert, some 90 minutes away from sunny Los Angeles. Our training base, a breathtaking luxury resort and spa, with two championship golf courses and expansive swimming pool complexes.

This is where we spent the next nine weeks.

The background was idyllic, magnifique,  spanning lavish gardens, enormous pools. The rooms were more like suites, with room service answering our beck and call. The atmosphere was lavish and decadent.

Yet, the training was anything so.

Exciting, amusing, intensive. Hard fucking work. The course includes six days of yoga, twice per day, with endless hours of studying asanas, anatomy, physiology and philosophy of yoga.

In essence, some 20 hour long days, with insane temperatures of 40 plus degrees. It wasn’t enough that the room where we practised our yoga was cranked up to temperatures off the radar—but even the walk to our lectures was strenuous under the blazing sun.

The meals were cumbersome; the time we had for each meal was limited.

We had no means of cooking, nor could we eat outside our ‘allocated’ meal time. Thrifty-ness was a must. We had no cooking amenities, and the cost of eating out was expensive. My diet consisted of salads and fruits.

I was by no means stringent with my food, nor was I calorie counting. But the intensity of the days events had me running on empty.

As the weight, again, started to shift, the attention on me began to expand. In a hope to remain unnoticed, I had cut my hair and dyed it brown before leaving Australia. This action failed abysmally.

Outwardly, I embraced the criticism that was delivered by Bikram, my guru—inwardly, I was more and more uncomfortable with the constant public taunts.

It was about week five of the training and I collapsed. I was beyond exhausted. The energy reserves I had once been able to draw from were no longer there. My immune system was so low that any invading pathogen could have knocked me for a six.

In a pit of despair with my body flailing, I nearly gave up and left the training.

It wasn’t until one lecture that I heard something resonating within. “The most important thing in your life is your life…You need to treat it like a brand new Ferrari—physically, mentally, spiritually…In helping yourself, you can help others.”

In a state of delirium, it was almost as if it was intentionally directed towards me, despite the fact there were more than 300 people around me. I felt something stir from within—I knew that I needed to face that last dreaded part of me that was still hiding.

That part of control I desperately was still clinging on to.

I needed to let go, and silence those demons I had listened too for far too long.

“Eat! Eat! Eat! Every day and every night —I don’t fucking care. Because you, Blondie, are going to be a star,” Bikram said to me.

And that is precisely when the game changed.

To be continued…


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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