“I now see Bikram Yoga as one of the most valuable tools for me to stay focused and fit for my life pursuits.”

“There are two dates I remember in my life: the day of my wedding and the first day I took Bikram Yoga.”

“I never planned to do the 60 day challenge; however, I just kept coming every day.”

“This is my 4th challenge. I’ve lost 90 pounds over the years of doing these challenges. The yoga really helps to keep the weight off.”

“Emotions have run high at home: tears, hugging, arguing and worrying. The yoga has helped so much. I am so lucky as a mom to have been able to have taken that time for myself.”

These are just a few of the comments made at our 60-Day Challenge Party, Saturday night, March 28th. One hundred students took the Challenge this time “the highest attendance yet” for BYSJ’s twice a year yoga marathon – 65 students finished, the most ever! Some participated for the first time; some for their third or fourth times. For me personally, the 60-Day Challenge Party is BYSJ’s single most inspiring event. One by one, members walk up to the front of the room, proudly accept their hard- earned trophy, and share their reflections on the experience. I am amazed not only by the stories but also the way in which each student articulates their own story. You can see and feel the value in every word.

It’s been over seven years since I completed Bikram’s Teacher Training. Despite how much time has passed, there are moments I will never forget. I recall an evening early on in the training, when Bikram expressed disgust at how we smelled. Okay, Bikram Yoga class is held in a hot room with carpet. And, there were 300 of us in a room that was about 10,000 sq. ft. So, it doesn’t smell that lovely to begin with. But, with Bikram, there is always something to notice and if you wait and observe long enough, you will see it. I remember much later in the training, how beautiful everyone was looking. I saw elegance and grace in everyone. I even noticed in class one day how handsome all the guys were and how pretty the women looked and that the smell in the room was actually pleasant.

“The first time I did the Challenge, I needed to prove to myself that I could keep a promise.”

“The first Challenge for me taught me that I can do it if I put my mind to it.”

These statements are typical of students after their first Challenge. However, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time Challengers repeatedly stated, “my relationships with others are richer, I feel more connected to my family and community, I know my body’s limits now and know how to take care of myself.” I am not suggesting a theme here, however, could it be that we need to get out of our own way first in order to see, feel, and believe in who we are and in what we share with others? Does the 60-Day Challenge provide a chance to prove ourselves – whatever needs proving? Does that proof, provide the key to unlock stronger, healthier and more satisfying connections?

The beautiful lotus flower is rooted first in the poorest of soil. Bikram Yoga, 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises, day after day, is brilliant. Over-time, in our own time, we blossom. But first, the soil needs to be tilled and nurtured. Yes, Bikram works from the inside out. The practice can filter out those harsh and useless weeds that kill any seed of possibility. Internal tests like “can I really keep a promise?” or “can I really do this?” are lodged deep in our psyche. That you Challengers come out the other end is no small matter. Your success opens up a whole new world. Challengers believe in themselves. We’ve made tidy what was a mess. We “smell better” as Bikram would say. And, now, the fun begins. We refine, enhance, edit and add to the life we’ve created. It’s like adding color to what was black and white.

As I listen to all the student’s genuinely moving stories, I reflect on my own journey and the challenges I’ve met. As I look back now, I too feared that I might not be strong enough to follow through, thinking “why even try?” The Challenges have put me to the test and through these and similar experiences I have dissolved deeply rooted doubts and have been amazed at what adventures have come rushing in to take their place. Ballroom dancing whisked into my life two years ago and has now become a full-time passion. (I just competed in my first ballroom dance competition.) I do believe my years of cultivating a strong yoga practice have at the same time given me a strong sense of who I am. This confidence, has allowed me to open up into more outward expressions of my being. That is beauty. I saw that Saturday night in all of you.

The challenges you take on- and the 60-Day Challenge is just one example – can help you confront (and possibly overcome) barriers that may have you compromising the fullness of your life. I once read that beauty is the positive reflection about the meaning on one’s own existence. I’ve also read that once we open up to the beauty – the everyday beauty from fresh cut flowers in the center of a table to the sweet sound of a bird chirping – we no longer feel alone but awaken and become more a part of the community that surrounds us!

“I have made so many friends here at BYSJ,” “I was able to do the challenge this time because so many of us are doing it together,” “All of us struggle in that room. I didn’t mind how packed the class was. It was motivating,” are only a few of the comments you repeatedly say.

We are that lotus flower springing up from deficient soil. It’s more empowering this way to see and feel the completeness in who you are and who we are together because of the roots we’ve had to dig up individually and collectively to get where we want to go. The yoga does that.

The 60-Day Challenge is a way to smell a bit better sooner. (But, not without suffering.) The yoga initially may make you feel raw and vulnerable, but if you trust it enough, you will stretch further and own how real, genuine and beautiful you really are.