LisaA few weeks ago, I suffered through the most difficult beginning Bikram yoga class of my life. I'm talking dizziness and nausea to the point that I had to take a knee before I passed out and took my neighbors down with me like dominoes. I was in a little studio on the island of Kauai participating in a yoga retreat led by former world yoga asana champion, Esak Garcia. In the room with me were yoga teachers and competitors from all over the world, so if ever there was a day to bring my best..... This day's lesson was humility, served hot.

My first Bikram class was nearly 3 1/2 years ago at Bikram Yoga Durham. At the age of 45 I had accrued aches and injuries through years of running, weight training, various exercise fads. I was a P90X graduate. I had even done some yoga using DVD's at home, so I went into my first hot yoga class with some confidence that I could keep up. It brought me to my knees, literally. Humility. I remember wondering if I might die of a heart attack that day on my sweaty towel.

That was more than 1000 classes, and countless loads of sweaty laundry ago. Since then, my body, my attitude, and my practice have changed dramatically. One thing has never changed. It has never gotten easy. There are certain postures that I planned to master long before now, but they still confound me, and there are still those days when I struggle just to stay on my feet in that hot, humid room. I believe those days improve me somehow.

I was never a dancer or a gymnast. Those people seem to come to yoga with a leg up, so to speak. Don't be fooled, they struggle too. (Admit it, that makes you feel a little better, doesn't it?) This yoga will get you one way or another. It builds on your strengths and exposes and addresses your weaknesses. We all have both.

The old aches in my hips and hamstrings have gone away. I have some new flexibility in some body parts, but my spine stubbornly insists that I work really hard for every millimeter in my backbend. I found the confidence to step onto a stage and share my practice in several competitions. Through competition training, I have learned some fun, cool strength postures that I never imagined I could do. I feel better, eat healthier foods, and I got to buy all new clothes in smaller sizes. I have met some wonderful and inspiring people! I think I might be a little more patient and less stressed than I used to be. I look forward to practicing every day (almost). I even find studios whenever I travel to other cities, so that I can keep up my practice. I've visited a lot of them now, and I have to say that we are really fortunate to have one of the very best Bikram studios right here in Durham. Our studio is beautiful and our teachers are amazing!

I'm happy to say that on the second day of that yoga retreat I redeemed myself by completing both sets of every posture in the beginning series. It felt great, but I know better than to let that go to my head. Every day is different

Lisa Jeffs,