After a particularly mentally challenging yoga class earlier in the week, I got the usual good job from my beloved yoga teacher. But then he pulled me aside and said there was good news and bad news. Let’s call my yoga teacher Jafar for the purposes of this blog. Yes, Jafar, the villain from Aladdin. You see, my yoga teachers are not what you imagine when you think of a yoga teacher. Isn’t the stereotype cute, little, sweet pixies encouraging peace, happiness and vegan living? Mine are more like a crew of Disney villans. They are mostly men, more bad ass than pixie and not always cute, little and sweet. They are honest and tell you what you need to hear, even when you don’t want to hear it.
So, anyway, Jafar pulled me aside and said that there was good news and bad news. You see, I’ve lost a bunch of weight in the last couple of months. 12.5 pounds to be exact. Jafar has been super supportive in my little transformation. But now there is good news and bad news. The weight loss is obviously the good news, the bad news is Jafar can now tell when I’m sucking my stomach in as opposed to letting it hang out. I guess before, my stomach was just an undefined blog so it didn’t really matter if I was sucking in or not. Now, there is some definition and it is in fact obvious when I’m not sucking in like I’m supposed to. This is indeed, bad news.
I went back into the changing room and had a seat to collect my thoughts on this news. My girls noticed something was up from my sigh and generally defeated demeanor. I told them “Jafar says I’m not sucking my stomach in”. One of my girls just shook her head and said in a whisper “Jafar”. My other girl said, that’s why I wear long shirts so he can’t see. Then she laughed at me. I got dressed and headed out. I filled my water bottle for the drive home and continued the conversation about sucking my stomach in. I nonchalantly said to my girl, you know sometimes I am trying to suck in my stomach but it just looks like that. From across the lobby I hear Jafar say, “BULLSHIT!”. My yoga teacher said Bullshit. I then got a lecture about holding in my stomach in all poses, at all times and how I should practice holding in my stomach on my entire drive home and throughout my day. He also warned, me that from this moment forward he is going to be watching my flabby stomach, particularly in Eagle and the pose after triangle (no one knows the name of that pose). He would be calling out not only me, but those around me for not sucking in their stomachs. This must be one of those team building type things that will motivate me to do it because I don’t want my poor comrades to have to get in trouble for my flabby abs. I looked to one of my other yoga teachers for some sign of compassion. Let’s call him Captain Hook. Jafar said, “Captain Hook isn’t going to go easy on you either, are you Captain Hook?” Captain Hook just looked at me sympathetically and whispered, “think Katy Perry”. Captian Hook and I find motivation in Katy Perry. More detail than that is not warranted at this juncture.
As usual, Jafar is right. I don’t always suck in my stomach. In fact, I don’t always work as hard as I should in a lot of other ways too. Ways that are probably less obvious to the villans than a flabby v. tight abdonminal area. The fact of the matter is during the last three months in the majority of my classes I have been trying so hard to calm down my mind and the racing thoughts about the stress in my life. My focus has been more about not having a panic attack than sucking in my stomach. This hasn’t been your typical run of the mill stress…this is the big stuff. Some days just staying in the room is an accomplishment for me and I’ve been doing this for a while. It’s the goal of your first ever Bikram yoga class to just stay in the room. It’s been more about stress management than stomach sucking in, I’ll be honest. But now, I’m coming to the end of some of this stress with some major life changes. Most of those decisions have been made within the 4 corners of my yoga mat. And the truth is that even if the life changes weren’t happening, it’s time to stop with the stress. It’s been too much and too consuming for too long. Now, I can and will focus on sucking in my stomach, locking me knee, pointing my toes and whatever else I’ve been neglecting in my practice.
So being told to suck in my stomach was not exactly music to my ears and I am in fact sucking in my stomach right now as I type these words. My last two classes though I really have focused on it and made a conscious effort to keep it sucked in all the time. Jafar is right, it’s obvious when it’s flabby and although Jafar didn’t say it, it’s gross too. And while Jafar’s threats to yell at me when I’m not sucking it in are motivation to keep it sucked in, that’s not necessarily enough to make it happen every second of every class. What is working though, is imagining that Bradley Cooper is staring at my stomach the entire class. Bradley Cooper doesn’t want to see an unsucked in stomach. Neither does Jafar or Captain Hook. And frankly neither do I. Here’s to better stomach sucking in, tighter abs and inner peace!