The following is my favorite Bikram quote turned mantra:
“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.”
I absolutely believe this. I was 39 when I started practicing yoga a year ago, and I had some serious fears mentally and physically that I overcame. (You can read about those in my first post Overcoming Yoga Phobia.) Within the past 12 months, I tell everyone I know and meet about the healing and strengthening powers of yoga. I have even tried to persuade people with chronic back issues and arthritis to “just
give yoga a try. You have nothing to lose.”
Most people seem genuinely interested in learning more, but few have actually taken me on my word and tried yoga themselves. The few who have tried all agreed that their experience was positive and left an impression. They were thankful for all of my talk about yoga.
So, when I learned a few weeks ago that I would be laid off from my job, I put my talk to the test. Could I persuading myself to not give up and “to start from the scratch again?”
There is absolutely nothing more humiliating than losing your job. I worked for a Federal contractor and knew the reality of contract work: nothing is guaranteed beyond the initial contract period. When I learned I would be losing my job in two days, I was devastated. I drove home that evening feeling like a complete failure and wondered if there was something I could have done that would have helped extend the contract. There was nothing. I did my job. I did my job well. The end of the contract was the end of the contract. It had nothing to do with my performance.
The worst part of that evening was breaking the news to my husband. We had just purchased and moved into a new home a month before, and the last thing I wanted to do was let my husband down at this early stage in our mortgage responsibilities.
Fortunately, he took it well and reassured me that I have skills and will find a new job in record time: “You’ve got skills, Baby. No worries.”
I worried. I sat down and figured out a budget and what bills I needed to pay and which ones I could defer. On paper, things looked a bit bleak. I stepped away and decided to go to an 8:00pm yoga class. If there was one expense I didn’t mind paying, it was my monthly yoga membership.
Arriving at the studio, I decided to choose a spot in a corner of the room I normally avoided because I always thought it looked too hot. (I know. It’s Bikram. Every spot is too hot.) I did my pre-practice warm-up and took a quick sip of my icy water before the instructor began.
Transitioning through the 26 postures, I thought a lot about being unemployed. I thought about how much of a loser I was and wondered how I was ever going to get a job fast enough in this economy and job market. I was really beating myself up during this practice. I took many savasanas and opted out of the second set for each of the balancing postures. I kept thinking that my practice was suffering along with my career. All of the self-esteem I had built and gained over the past 10 months was quickly dissipating in less than 10 hours! Where was my mind going? And how could it go there in the yoga room?
The final savasana came. I lay there on my back with my body stretched out and my eyes closed. I may have looked relaxed, but I was anything but relaxed. The instructor sweetly repeated the words he always repeats at the end of his class:
“Feel free to take what you need and leave behind what you don’t need.”
In the instant those words hit my ears, I knew I had to let go of the negative thinking that had been consuming me. I needed to gain a positive attitude and leave behind the bad one. I had to start from “the scratch,” and “the scratch” just happened to be the last savasana of the evening. I was okay with that. I left the yoga room feeling less stressed and renewed. I was ready to be jobless and do what needed to be done to land a new position.
This week I start my new job. I barely had an opportunity to collect unemployment! Over the past few weeks while job searching, I practiced yoga sporadically. I went during the morning and early afternoon, times I normally wouldn’t have practiced while working. If I had an interview scheduled, I went to class before the interview. I used my yoga practice to ease my stress and to remind myself what’s most important to my family and me, and that’s our health and happiness. With those two things, anything can be accomplished.
The image provided for this story is of fellow yogi Daria, a student of Bikram Yoga Rockville, who is practicing her standing bow pulling pose (Dandayamana- Dhanurasana) on the beaches of St. Martin. Beautiful!