OK, well maybe not directly, but it was a year ago today that my BFF dragged me to my first Bikram Yoga class. I had never ever taken a yoga class before, mainly because I never thought I could do it. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2 prosthetic hips, a frozen shoulder and a bum knee - needless to say, my range of motion is somewhat limited.
Well, I agreed to go and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself!
Bikram Yoga is a series of twenty-six asanas (postures) and 2 breathing exercises done in 90 minutes. The series is conducted in a heated room (think 103 degrees and 50% humidity) to warm up your whole body and allows you to work deep into your muscles, tendons and ligaments, changing your body from the inside out. And for this reason, it is THE perfect kind of yoga for someone like me.
Birkam Choudury developed the series after he sustained a debilitating knee injury at the age of 17 that had doctors telling him he would never walk again. He refused to believe them, had himself carried back to his yoga teacher's Bishnu Ghosh's school in Calcutta and 6 months later his knee was healed. He went on to develop yoga schools in India and Japan and then brought his teachings to North America.
The heat and humidity can be daunting for some, but for me, they are the main reasons that I can do this practice. My joints and muscles get nice and warm and I am able to get deeper into the postures. And I LOVE the sweat! I feel like it really does cleanse and detox my whole body. AND according to the calorie burning calculator, I can burn up to 955 calories in one 90 minute class!! What more reason do I need.
My practice has definitely changed in the year that I have been doing Bikram Yoga. I used to have to bring a towel into class for a lot of the floor poses involving my knees, but no more. I have developed way more strength in my legs and have better balance as well. I don't think I have lost a huge amount of weight doing this practice, but I do think that my body has changed. My butt is firmer and higher (according to my husband), my mama pooch is not as 'pooch-y' and I can really feel my abs under what is left of said pooch.
But the real joy of Bikram Yoga for me is that it is MY TIME!
Last Fall, I was not in a good mental space. I believe I was suffering from some late post-partum depression, I had no patience and was losing it more than not with my kids, and I was in the midst of a less than ideal business partner break-up. I was just NOT a happy mama. I started seeing a psychologist, had some long chats with my husband and realized that I needed to find some time and space that was just mine.
Bikram classes gave me that time and space that I desperately needed and that I continue to need to stay happy and healthy. Once I am in that room, all of my days troubles melt away with the heat and drip off of me in the sweat. I don't think about ANYTHING except my breath, I listen to the dialogue from my yoga teachers and I feel the energy in the room. And the icing on the cake is that after class I get to have a nice long leisurely shower, ALL BY MYSELF!!
I am now practicing at least three times a week and am now a regular at my yoga studio. I practice at an amazing studio in Edmonton, Alberta and am so grateful to all the amazing teachers and students that have helped me along the way and keep encouraging me to go deeper, reach farther and keep breathing.
I encourage you all to find your local Bikram Yoga studio and discover all the benefits this practice has to offer both your body and your mind!