This is a true story.
One day in late October 2016, a student I had never met before signed in at the front desk and told me that she was on day 4 or 5 of a personal 30-day challenge.
I kept a special eye on her in class that day, offering extra encouragement, and feeling moved by the determination in her eyes during Standing Head to Knee, the smile on her face after Spine Twist.
When I took class the next day, I happily noticed that she was already set up on the other side of the room, ready to go. For whatever reason, that was an especially tough class for me, and I considered sitting out a posture or two. But then I looked over at this student, back again for another day of challenging, healing, self-affirming work, and I felt inspired. Motivated. Connected. Her strength and determination made me feel stronger and more determined. I was supported by the commitment and optimism of a student I’d only met once, standing on a mat 20 feet across the room.
That student was Marie Levesque, and she continues to elevate my mood and fire up my commitment to this yoga series every time I see her. The evolution of her practice has been a beautiful thing to watch, and her fantastic attitude is contagious. Marie’s story, in her own words, is below.
— Ellen Olson-Brown, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford
My Personal 30 Day Challenge
by Marie Levesque
What would lead me to such an extreme change of behavior? I was in the middle of the most challenging year of my life, and I wanted to try something new, somewhere new, where “nobody knew my name!”
Something clicked right away. I was uncomfortable, had difficulty breathing, couldn’t make it through an entire class without sitting out at least one posture, but I kept coming back.
I loved being anonymous. I was welcomed but allowed to keep to myself. Each ninety-minute class gave me a reprieve from the emotional stress I was living with all day, every day. I came about 3-4 times per week. I did not enjoy class. I dreaded and hated several postures. I left class early more than once. But I kept coming back.
In the middle of October when I felt completely out of control over the things that mattered most to me in my life, I realized I needed something bigger than myself that I could focus on, something I had control over. So, I started my personal 30 in 30 challenge.
On Monday, October 24th I decided to commit to completing 30 classes in 30 days. If successful, I would be celebrating on Tuesday, November 22nd!
I went to the website and signed up for 30 classes and put them into my calendar. Attendance was non-negotiable. I just started showing up everyday, no matter what.
I was completely unprepared for the impact those 30 days would have on my life.
I told Terri and the instructors about my challenge. I told some of the others in class who I had begun to let know me. I began to feel the swell of support for me to succeed in my challenge. I had never felt anything like that before.
I did it!
On November 22nd, I completed my 30th class in 30 days. That morning I had been diagnosed with bronchitis and started on antibiotics, but I was not going to let that keep me from my final class. The hot air in the room actually made my breathing a little easier!
Those 30 classes in 30 days completely changed my relationship with Bikram yoga.
- Instead of “doing” yoga, I was now “practicing” yoga.
- I no longer dreaded any single posture.
- Class went by faster than it had before the 30 days.
- I began to experience the flow of the postures from one to the next.
- I experienced changes in my body; I could now do postures that had been impossible six months before, and the weight was melting off of me.
- I still couldn’t make it through an entire class without sitting out at least one posture, but I had no judgment about that.
- I realized that I had started meditating for 90 minutes a day when prior to that I had never been able to meditate for more than 20 minutes at a time.
- I couldn’t wait to get to class.
- It was still very challenging and I didn’t “enjoy” class, but I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
- I had become a yogi.
I am deeply grateful to all the instructors and my fellow classmates for cheering me on silently and verbally. I could not have done it without your support. I have made it through the most challenging, difficult and wonderful year of my life and Bikram Yoga Chelmsford made it possible for me not just to survive, but to thrive and grow.