convos with strangers

bikram yoga: from an ex-military perspective

it’s a really beautiful thing – having random, unpredictable, compelling, sometimes weird but always interesting conversations with people you’ve just met. being an introvert, i find it way too comforting to simply skim over the pleasantries with people and move on.

but everyone has a story to tell, a perspective to share, something thought-provoking to voice. and, as i’m learning to break out of my shell and actually hold a conversation with someone i’m deeply intrigued by, i’m realising that these simple conversations with strangers really do sustain my most basic of human cravings; connection.

***this article is in no way supporting or aligning itself with the person Bikram Choudhury. this article only intends to positively highlight the practice of bikram yoga***

“i’m sorry. i don’t mean to keep staring at you, but i’ve seen your face before. have you ever done hot yoga?”

i was mindlessly polishing cutlery for the coffee machine at work, wasting the day away.

his inquisitive yet reserved voice pulled me out of my work-state subconscious and into the present. a pair of pale blue, ever so patient eyes gazed back from across the bench.

excited for a conversation topic i’m passionate about, i told him i had, at a place in town.

understanding washed over his young, composed features, relaxing him, and therefore me too. he smiled and said he’d practiced bikram yoga at the same place.

my brows must have still been doing that scrunchy, skeptical tug – making it super obvious and awkward that he recognized me and i didn’t him. that’s when he tugged on the leash in his hands and the fluffy, brown + white head of a dog appeared at his waist. deep brown eyes peered curiously at me through the tangled fur.

“surely you remember Lucy? she’d wait out front class for me.”

i hope it’s normal to remember dogs over people. it’s my default, i can’t help it.

Lucy. a springer spaniel x border collie. the most well-behaved, patient dog i’d ever met. and pat. before every single yoga class, though never really sure who she’d belonged to.

i laughed, everything dawning into place, and admitted i definitely did remember Lucy.

and so, the conversation glided effortlessly from there.

he had discovered bikram yoga after serving 10 years in the military. Lucy is his emotional support dog.

however, there was so much more to this convo than that.

the way he dove into discussing the practice of bikram, of the way he stumbled into it after the military.

of the mental release it rewarded him. and the hope he had of it becoming a part of military training for all soldiers.

of the reason he’d moved here, after being up and down the Australian east coast, was because of bikram. of the quality, traditional bikram our town offered.

of the traditional, 90 minute, 26×2 postures he’d grown to master and worship. to live for.

it was like witnessing someone else’s gratitude on an infinitely higher level.

i was mesmerised.

i’d only ever known yoga as a form of recreation, exercise or movement.

never as a saviour.

as a salvation towards reclaiming yourself.

but he had.

i cannot begin to comprehend the parts of yourself you must lose in war. in battle.

amongst death.

yet listening to the way he spoke so openly about his experiences – from the navy, to serving overseas, to retiring and finding bikram yoga – it was impossible to not hear the relief in his voice.

the gratitude in his words.

for finding a place. a wholesome, nurturing, challenging and stimulating place for his mind to rest.

to reclaim itself.

and to slowly, become its own saviour.

on the mat, in immense heat, for 90 intense minutes.

it was not only his respect but his undeniable thankfulness for this practice. for what it has evidently given him.

for what it has proven to him he can achieve. who he still can be:

strong

vulnerable

mindful

free

even after war.

it was this gratefulness for redemption that compelled me to write.

and it was his glow. his subconsious ability to glow and grow and shine as he communicated with me, that compelled me to share this with you.

because everyone has a story to tell. and everyone you cross paths with, you do so for a reason.

he crossed my path to show me what utter gratitude looks like. to teach me what it’s like to pull myself out of the darkest mental depths through sheer devotion and pure commitment for a wholesome, content life.

and so i thank him.

with a honey-soaked heart,

D

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