Meiladies aka My Life Story aka Why I Want To Be A Bikram Yoga Teacher
Maladies. Or, since I am in a punny mood, let’s call it Meiladies. Not Mei’s ladies. Ahem.
Since I’ve finished the challenge, allow the narcissistic me to celebrate by regaling those of you with the story of my life, or precisely, how Bikram changed my life. I really am half-kidding about being narcissistic, as I look at myself in the mirror 90+minutes a day, EVERY day!
I was born a rather underweight and sickly baby on the 26th of June, year of the wood ox. Instead of a happy, healthy childhood of running through the mud, getting scrapes and climbing up trees, I indulged in a childhood of breathlessness, multiple trips to the hospital and being fed disgusting foul medication all because of asthma. Folks, my childhood asthma was not your regular “Can’t play sports or she’ll turn blue” type, it was the “3am and my daughter can’t breathe and she’s turning blue” type. I remember my parents rushing me to the nearest hospital / clinic to get me on that disgusting turbohaler, and even in my state I’d be fighting and pummeling the doctors [once 2 nurses had to hold me down!] with my tiny fists simply because I HATED the smell of the medication.
Yes, ironic isn’t it, for someone with chronic sinus to hate the smell of something when she supposedly can’t smell it? Every morning since birth, and I mean EVERY single morning no matter where I am [England, Port Dickson, Auckland, Otago, Genting, Cameron’s …], I’d wake up to a stuffed nose that will last the whole day, much to the annoyance of other people [especially if I’m on holiday with friends]. So what’s a girl to do but to tiptoe around the house trying her best to clear her nose whilst praying that her snivveling won’t wake the whole house. Plus with the sinus, my sense of smell was severely affected. Where the smell of delicious home cooked meals / cakes bring delight to children, most days I’d sniff the air and go “Where got food?” [That’s Manglish for “Where’s the food”].
Childhood asthma disappeared when I lived in England for a bit and when I lived in New Zealand with no instances of asthma, I thought, “WHOPEE, my asthma was childhood and I’ve outgrown it!”.
But we will get back to the asthma story later.
Fast forward to when I was 14. One day, I felt sick, so I got mum to pick me up from school and send me to the doc. The diagnosis? “She has the beginnings of Anorexia”, the doctor declared triumphantly. What the fuck? Just because I was a skinny, gangly 14 year old who FORGOT to eat lunch [between school and extra curricular activities, we Malaysian children are a generally busy lot], does NOT an anorexic make me! I vehemently denied, but all she did was prescribe me some pills to take for a month. These funny little coloured oval cases of filth were what ultimately fucked up my metabolism.
Around this point of time I took to cutting myself, due to many family / personal / esteem problems that I had. Though I must say that I look back at this point of time in shame, nevertheless I am thankful that the physical scars have faded, though I now live with a distant memory of the emotional scars. I remember it got to a point where I’d be in class, and when I got stressed I’d take out my penknife and start cutting my hands. At home, I’d cut my inner thighs and ankles and would hide it under my baju kurung. I’m pretty sure my parents don’t know about this, because I’d come up with a host of excuses, “I slipped, I fell, papercut”, coupled with the fact that they were rarely home to even notice.
At the height of my rebellious youth (16), where I was smoking and taking illicit substances, I went off to New Zealand to live and study which will explain why at times, I lapse into a Kiwi accent. Ah, but my life in NZ was far from being free of the host of problems that plagued me. The first 5 months in NZ, I didn’t eat as healthily as I should have. Blame it on environmental stress or even having a housemate who had bullimia, but I had a rather… weird relationship with food. Instead of eating healthily, I’d plan and count my meals, to the extent of calorie counting. For example, I’d think “If I ate this cake I can’t have desert later / Today, I will ONLY have a sandwich, fruit, muesli bar and soup for lunch (or breaksies, as I call it!)”. In fact, it was only last year that I went “Screw it, if I want to eat Carbonara, I’ll have that with a frothy mug of Guinness because my body said so”. Note to self : This combo gave me indigestion, so no more!
It was also in NZ that I got into sports. Boy oh boy was I so happy that I got to represent our local student body in netball! Met SO MANY great and awe inspiring people, and I’m so humbled that they call me a friend. But anyways, onto my next malady. Now, netball, as folks may know, is a NON CONTACT SPORT. Correct? I mean, we girls don’t bump each other like in football [soccer to Americans], hit each other with sticks like in lacrosse or rain punches like in boxing. No. Netball is a non contact sport where we girls pass the ball to each other and a foul is declared if we so ever shoulder / knock into our opponents. Ahem.
SO WRONG! While practicing, this OAF pushes me out of the way to intercept. GRR! I landed SMACK onto the concrete court on my RIGHT WRIST, hit my shoulder and maybe even my head a tad. I remember being on the floor in a daze wondering “Oh wow, why’s everyone soooo tall? And oh, did we score?”. A week passed after my accident, and I was experiencing pain and tingling in my right arm, so I decided to see a doctor. And that was the beginning of a nightmare. Instead of a wrist fracture, after a month of visiting physiotherapists, sports doctors and what not, it turns out that the nerves in my wrist were injured / severed during the fall, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Onward ho to more physiotherapy sessions [I am not complaining, the physiotherapist AND sports doctor were equally HOT!!!], coupled with specialised physiotherapy. In addition to that, I was on an insane amount of painkillers and had a patch for high blood pressure to help treat the problem [ah, I quit smoking around this time too! For GOOD 2 years ago, YAY!]. As a precaution against re-injuring my hand / aggravating the problem, I was made to wear a splint 24-hours a day, minus the time I took it off for a shower. Life was very difficult and troublesome as my dominant hand was well, not so dominant. I could not carry my books, hold a mouse properly, or hold a pen as the damn splint would be in the way. In fact, I could not even wipe my arse after taking a rather glorious dump. Even tying my shoelaces some days would frustrate me to no end as I couldn’t get my fingers to get the bunny ears under the loop. As a result, the fiercely independant me had to resign to the fact that I was a cripple, and may be crippled for life. After spending 3 months in a splint and not using my right arm, I soon lost all muscle and strength in my right arm. I could NOT even hold a pen for more than 2 minutes, and the phrase “holding on for dear life” would’ve meant me letting go after 20 seconds.
It was around this time that I was on hormonal medication to help combat my twice-a-month periods [you think ONCE a month is bad? TWICE is TERRIBLE!]. Looking back, I guess it was a combination of circumstances and medication that I fell into depression. As I explained to a friend, it wasn’t the mopey “Oh why does it always raiiiin on meeee” type, it was the “I want to fucking kill myself today, God, where’s the OFF switch?”. Day in, day out, I don’t know HOW I functioned – going to classes, continuing with work and managing all my extra curricular activities, but I do remember feeling shit and wanting to just OD on diclofenac or stand in the middle of the railway tracks and be done with it.
It was horrible. Oh so horrible. It was a black pit so deep, I don’t know how I climbed out or snapped out of it. I have an inkling that it was because of the hormonal medication that I became even more depressed, and every time my period would swing by, I’d have all these nasty suicidal thoughts ambling in my head, “I WISH that car would just run me over and be done with it / I WISH that truck would just smash into my car and sever my spine”. I’m not quite sure if any other lady in this world has suicidal thoughts twice a month before their period hits!
I came back to Malaysia, land of haze / smog and general air pollution. Ah, lovely. 3 years ago, during Chinese New Year [when the air is dry, acrid and it’s haze galore], I ran out of breath climbing up 1 flight of stairs to my room. I thought to myself : Fuck, my stamina can’t be THAT bad! Ex lifeguard / lacrosse player / netballer, I can’t fucking DIE walking up the stairs, RIGHT? It turns out that my childhood asthma made a great and glorious return! Gasping for breath, I had to get my mum to drive me to the nearest clinic for antoher round of turbohaler treatment.
At the grand age of 22, I had it all : depression, carpal tunnel, esteem problems, eating problems, asthma, sinus. I used to joke that if I were born 50 years ago I’d probably be dead by the age of 18.
One day, a friend of The Boyfriend’s, who was working at the gym, suggested I sign up for Bikram Yoga.
“Pffth, it’s just normal yoga done in a hot room, right?”
“It’s DIFFERENT” Kym cajoled.
“But it’s the SAME as doing the regular Hot Yoga!”
“Try it” she sang.
Fine, so I got suckered into it.
And after one class, this sucker signed up for 10 classes. And a 1 month pass. And a 1 year pass. And another year pass. Sucker!
1 year 8 months later, I am better mentally and physically for it. I don’t feel like off-ing myself anymore [and OH! my periods are ONCE a month now! I am no longer the most fertile woman in the planet that causes her significant other(s) a mad scramble for the condom], my sinus is GONE [I can SMELL now. In fact, my sense of smell is so freaking acute I know when benders in the room are having their periods. Gross and useless superpower, I know!], my carpal tunnel is GONE [I can grip tight, I can hold a pen, I can PUNCH people again, HAHA!] and I don’t look sideways at cake as though it’s EVIL. I feel more confident about myself and as corny / cliched as this may sound, I’ve come to terms with myself.
It is with these reasons that I want to inspire people to change their life, and this step begins with attending Fall 09 Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. I’m NOT wanting to become a teacher just because, oh la, I’ve got an awesome backbend [*cough, self praise, cough*], can do a full camel / contort myself into freaky postures. A few benders at the studio said “Oh yes, you should become a teacher, you’re soooo flexible!”. The point of being a teacher is NOT to show off how flexible / strong one is [though some teachers with kick ass practice really can inspire students], but rather, to help change lives, one spine / mind at a time.
What I have just wrote [typed?] about is a rather personal journey for me, and not many, if any, know ALL the sordid details of my life. In fact, a little part of me feels almost embarrassed to be selling my story out to the public, but hey, if it’s gonna help even ONE person overcome what I had, well, I’d say my job as a teacher has only just begun.