Tell me Shawn: how did you hear about Bikram?
So my mom is a big yogi, and she mentioned that there was some new kind of yoga that "non-yogi's" (ie- more traditional athletes like myself) were really into and maybe i could give it a try. In my younger days I would always steer clear of yoga because the thought of sitting still scared me. But then I was living in the East Village and working in Soho, and I used to walk across town to and from work, and i'd often pass the Soho studio. So one day, I was just like, what the hell I should try this. That was around 2004, and it's still a part of my life. So I guess my mom was right :)
Moms usually are. Did you go to your first class alone?
Actually no, I brought a friend. i think it was a mutual decision for us to go. Or maybe i asked a lot of people and he was the only one willing to try :)
I hope you bought him a smoothie after class! What do you remember about that class, by the way?
Um, it was REALLY HOT. I remember being anxious and miserable the entire time. I would fidget like a crazy person, always wiping away my sweat and trying to find some way to get comfortable. I was so dramatic, i think i probably thought i was going to die.
Wow. You just described the synopsis of this Mexican soap opera I recently got into. When and why did you come back?
Oh, I'm pretty sure I came back the next day or the day after. I dont like the idea of being defeated, so I had to figure out a way to make it through the class. Plus, everyone said it would get easier and so I trusted them. (and they were obviously right!)
Obvs. Though I've been in the game 7+ years and it hardly feels easy. Better, but not easier. Are you or where you working with any injuries?
I have Bikrammed through a few injuries actually. In 2007 I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus and added bikram to the PT regimen as soon as I was allowed. I DEFINITELY feel like it has helped. And my fixed firm has been improving ever since! I LOVE that pose for my knees.
Then in 2011, I was riding my bike and was run over by a little old lady in a (thankfully small) car, and I fractured a bone in my foot. I was in a cast and on crutches for a while. I was living in Geneva at the time and doing bikram pretty regularly and frankly the idea of not being able to run or do yoga was pretty devastating. But everyone at the studio was so amazing and so supportive!! I had friends who would pick me up and drive me home, and Karine, the studio owner, would set me up in the back of the studio with a chair and some other props. My favorite part was in the warm up during awkward pose when the dialogue is all "sit down like you're sitting in a chair" and I would be able to actually sit down in my chair - just keeping my arms outstretched or whatever to work my upper body. that was pretty amazing and I laughed to myself every time. But i do like to think it helped speed up my recovery :) and seriously, I was so touched by everyone's support during that fiasco. I think it speaks very highly of the bikram community in general.
OMG. That is so sweet, moving, and funny. You're right about the community- I too have met some incredible folks in my journey. What do you particularly like/dislike about the practice?
This is a tricky one, but ultimately what I think I like most about bikram is that it has taught me to be patient with myself. Like if I suck at a pose today, its ok - I can be better tomorrow. And, I shouldn't hate myself for that. It has also taught me how to be calm in situations that might have once made me anxious! I think just the self-awareness and awareness of breath have really helped. I'm pretty sure if you can stay calm and keep your breathing regular while doing difficult postures in a heated room, you can stay calm through anything. So i'm pretty thankful for that.
Truth. What inspired you to do the 30 day challenge?
Oh, because I love a good challenge! And because I think at some point this was something I thought I could absolutely never do, and I like to prove those kinds of things wrong. Its nice to be reminded that you can do whatever you put your mind to!!
You're just preaching it, girl. What intentions did you set for your challenge?
I guess my only real intention was just to complete it. I had attempted in the past but things had always gotten in the way. So my only real intention was to complete it - and well, to enjoy it. I told myself if I started to dread or resent it then it was time to stop. Anyways, I loved it so it all worked out !!
And finally... drumroll please... what are you favorite/least favorite postures?
Oh YIKES that is a tricky one. Can I pick three?
I love the first backbend because WOW what an awesome wake-up call. I love standing head-to-knee because I think thats where I made the most progress during my 30dc. And I really appreciate savasana because I think its indicative of how far I've come over all. As for least favorite, I think if you'd asked me before my 30dc I could have come up with a few - but I pretty much made peace with all of them so i'll decline to comment if thats ok :)
Gorgeous & brilliant. Thanks lovely. Blaze on and keep rockin. See you in the hotroom!
Hey Tina. How did you hear about Bikram?
I had reached a plateau toward my weight loss goal and my vitalist (my go-to person for fitness training, nutritional guidance and motivation), Yves Bony of Bonifide Solutions, recommended an intro class.
Right on. Tell me about your first class?
I was quite intimidated attending my first class alone, unsure about withstanding the heat for 90 minutes (not a fan of perspiration), overwhelmed by the studio odor, somewhat claustrophobic about the closed door policy and minimal space between mats, and insecure about my fitness level. Given my like of Pilates and that I try something at least once, I remained open-minded. As we proceeded through postures I was shocked watching seasoned practitioners in the front row of all body types move so fluidly; perplexed at how such seemingly simple movements were such a challenge; stunned that the instructor did not demonstrate leaving me to be fully attuned by my own eyes and ears; and marveled that my whole body felt exercised without strenuous exertion. All the while I felt challenged, conversely I also felt a new energy surge throughout me. By the end, final Savasana, I was thankful it was over -- I got my Asana kicked at Bikram Yoga Park Slope -- and was pleasantly surprised that I was eager to return, the very next day.
That's astounding, you remember so much! I hardly remember my first class. Why did you come back?
In need of a new workout routine to drop pounds, I kept at it because as is said, I had "an immediate change after just one class". However, this solitary focus lessened and a passion for the practice itself grew more. Finally, I had found an exercise with results, astounding and unparalleled health benefits, that I truly enjoy, relish in, and fairly excel at.
You've nailed it. I totally agree. How about injuries? Are you working through any?
The control that at any time and in any posture "100% of your body's best effort is 100% benefit" plus the breath synchrony of yoga have lessened the affects of both my mild scoliosis and asthma; my spine strength and aerobic stamina have improved greatly. Mitral valve prolapse and neurogenic syncopae combined have prevented me from increased heart rate sports and activities all my life. However, I was determined to overcome my fear of running and any potential injury so my vitalist trained me to run. Two months after I began practicing, in a cardio warm up at a nearby gym before class at the studio, I fell on the treadmill. Although I felt immediate pain, my newfound inner fitness warrior, got right back on track, literally. Two weeks later with the pain not subsiding and in fact escalating to a point of not being able to move my foot, an emergency orthopedic sports medical office visit revealed a stress fracture. This was the fourth repeat injury to my left first metatarsal, same place but different deeper damage to the bone. For the next 14 weeks I wore an unattractive foot cast and adjusted to navigating New York City during winter with much of my weight distributed to one side of my body. I decided to continue with Bikram because in one of my classes an instructor encouraged, "whatever you have, whatever you're going through, bring it to the mat." I would sit and only do postures on my non-injured right side. And while it frustrated me at times to be imbalanced and not at full utility, I became fully immersed in the humility, oneness with body & mind, and patience that is the heart of the practice. I also did 8 weeks of physical therapy and I know the healing to just "be in the room" was supplemental.
Yes to your inner fitness warrior! Tell me, what do you like/dislike about the practice?
I love Bikram for its fluid intensity, discipline, health benefits, transformative properties, motivation for proper diet, aid to better sleep, and the marriage of soul, body & mind. I've become accustomed yet dislike the smell of perspiration-doused studio carpet. The thrust of my becoming a #BikramAddict was and continues to be as a means of managing stress. Yet, what's oxymoronic about Bikram is the stress-induced process to "be in the room" -- consistent time commitment, frequent delays of New York City transit, before or after work rush, just making it before door closes, possibly not getting preferred place down of your mat, yoga pose envy, agitation from shower wait time, pricey clothing, costs of hydrating drinks with electrolytes, class and studio membership high fees -- all in an attempt to de-stress and find physiological and mental balance.
True, it's not just "90-minutes" but really, a whole lifestyle we must make for ourselves in order to fit this practice into our day. I'm curious, why did you want to do the 30DC?
My decision to do a 30-day challenge was part whim, part opportunistic given a lighter workload, and part naivet from my enchantment with the practice. To my surprise, I was disgruntled the middle two weeks, days 8 - 21. First off, the humidity of an unseasonably warm summer made the room temperature feel unbearable. Then the obligation of every day, at the studio, overriding my social plans or mood for a day off irritated me. I hadn't planned for how depleted my body and energy would sometimes feel and be, nor the impact to my hair. I had grown my natural hair into a mid-length curly Mohawk and just prior to the spur of the moment challenge start I had straightened it. Even though my hair was short, maintenance of a sweat-drenched mane was frustrating after just four days. I was upset to cut off a year's growth to a near scalp crop. After the hair chop and between the 2nd and 3rd weeks, the underlying purpose of my challenge surfaced: to embrace becoming a free-of-fear me.
What? Really? That's wild. That's wild, and I love that you did it in the name of freedom. What were your intentions for this challenge?
My intentions for the challenge were to improve my postures, tone my body, and to de-stress.
What changes did you experience?
Within my 30-day challenge, I did a Double three times as well as participated in the Solstice Times Square. I had been having "yoga breakthroughs" here and there throughout my 6 months of practice up to that time, yet I accomplished or made great stride with adjustments to many postures within the 4 weeks of the challenge (Standing Forward Bend, Awkward Pose, Eagle Pose, Triangle Pose, Locust Pose -- I can finally get my legs up). I was blown away at the total turnaround in my stress level, in addition to a complete shift to how I now approach, better yet, refrain from stress. For the first time, I experienced and have been sustaining inner peace. Also, my self-awareness and recognition of the intentions of those around me has been heightened. It's nearing two months later and admittedly -- like many Black women in that we tend to be very attached to our hair and looks -- I have moments in which I miss my prior hairstyle and length. While I take solace in that "it's just hair" that will grow back, my mind quickly moves from wallow to the mental growth I gained in energy change from the sacrifice. I parallel the focus it takes to achieve posture flexibility and the simplicity of practice to life application of endurance through "opening up" and "adjustments" to perspective, including to be more detached from the superficial. Gone is the daily must of a fussy outfit and "beat face"; for everyday, non-occasions, to be presentable is now less time-consuming and I mostly wear easy looks and no makeup. However, I'm definitely becoming a "yoganista" as my penchant for fashion may be spent less on the day-to-day having transferred to expressive yoga wear, fit for the happy I have with my improved health, body, and capability. My core expectations for the challenge were met; in hindsight it was unrealistic to secretly think or hope I would perfect all postures or alter my body to be in ideal, "dream" shape. I am grateful for the unpredicted gains that exceeded beyond the surface goals in connecting me to deeper, emotional truth and meaning. I truly had a transformational shift to a more sound mind and the release of a spirit of fear. I feel whole as a Yogini. I no longer stress, I stretch.
Love it! To no longer stress, but to stretch. Lastly, tell me, which are your favorite/least favorite posture and why?
My favorite posture is Savasana, "dead ass", all pun intended. I love having "yoga break thrus" of when the body opens up either to gain ability of or deepen a posture; essentially the transfer of flexibility from "I can't" to "I can". I enjoy the floor series overall; Wind Removing Pose, Cobra Pose, Fixed Firm Pose, Half Tortoise Pose, Rabbit Pose and Camel Pose are postures I favor most. In general I am challenged with balance (notwithstanding repeated foot fractures) so that series continues to be a work in progress, particularly Standing Bow Pulling Pose. More opening of my hips will help in Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose, Tree Pose, and Floor Bow.
I dig Savasana too. Without it, we would not be practicing Hatha Yoga. I know you're up to some amazing things off your mat. Could you share a little bit?
The profound impact of Bikram inspired me to not only explore other forms of yoga, but also to share practice with others in creating Yoga to the Curvy Curly (facebook.com/YogatotheCurvyCurly and twitter @YTTCC.) To be held on Saturday, September 15th, 2012, in Ft. Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY, Yoga to the Curvy Curly is a free, open to the public, 5-hour day event of yoga, well-being, and hair care activities for women of color to learn about and embrace the practice and encourage budding "yoganistas". It's to motivate those with the misconceptions: 1) "I am not flexible enough, not in good enough shape, and it's only for certain types of people" and 2) "I have naturally curly hair styled straight that sweat makes difficult to maintain". The event features two types of complimentary yoga classes that address weight loss, flexibility, de-stressing, energizing, meditation and overall well-being. The highlight is a "Bring It to the Mat" open circle, moderated, panel discussion with guest experts in yoga, nutrition, hair care, and beauty addressing the misconceptions and encouraging exercise and positive self-image. There will be themed information tables on hair maintenance regimen tips and wellness knowledge and services along with coconut water refreshment on behalf of the beverage sponsor. During non-class times, a step & repeat will be available for photo candids, "Strike A Pose" contest, and a deejay will spin. The event goal is to create a special outdoor "studio" that is welcoming and relevant to 'Curvy' body types and 'Curly' hair types.
Love! Thank you Tina. You are indeed a fitness warrior and yogini. xx
Tiffany walked out of her first class. She eventually returned to the hot room, and her comeback made quite a splash: she completed a 100 day challenge, is feeling fine & fabulous about her sexy self, and also added the Foxy Bod program to her repertoire. She's a native New Yorker & practices at Bikram Yoga Grand Central.
MH: Hello, you fox! Tell me, how did you hear about bikram?
About 2 years ago, a friend of mine mentioned it and thought we should take a class to try it out but I never really paid any mind to him until I saw a living social deal a year later and decided to give it a try.
Good old Living Social and their hard-to-resist temptations. Tell me about your first class.
My first class was tough, to say the least. The heat was unbearable and I didn't really know how to silence the part of my brain that kept telling me I couldn't get through it so i ended up leaving before the floor series even began.
Naughty negative thinking. But, you came back. Why?
I remember one of my teaches asking me this when i first started the challenge and my answer was "I don't know" but I know now it is what my body and mind craved and needed at the time. It was that feeling of accomplishment you get after EVERY class. It took me about a month to come back but I just knew I was stronger mentally and physically and I wanted to prove it to myself. I didn't want that first class to define me, I didn't want to be the person who gave up when it got to tough.
You certainly showed yourself you were absolutely capable of it. Brava. Once you began to practice regularly, what is it about the practice that you liked/disliked?
I love that even though we do the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises every time, every single class is different and challenging. Bikram yoga has taught me a lot about life and myself. It's taught me that no matter how hard things get or how hot class gets, I choose whether or not it will affect me and nothing can steal my peace unless I allow it to. That the second something/a posture takes place, it is already in the past and I can let go of it. I can't really think of anything I dislike about the practice other than the soreness you feel the next day but it is a good excuse to treat yourself to a massage so I really don't mind it, and it reminds me that I am working hard everyday in class.
Love it. Choosing your thoughts, shaping your experience. And then letting go. I can absolutely relate to these insights. And yes, any reason to get a massage is a good reason :) So, what is it that ultimately inspired you to go on a challenge?
I like the person I've become with Bikram yoga. I eat healthier, I drink a ton of water and I feel amazing after every class. I wanted to have that feeling everyday and I wanted to give myself those 90 minutes a day. Living in NYC, everything is very fast pace and I never really get a chance to slow things down, doing the challenge helped me calm my mind everyday and helped me see things clearer. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. I wanted to be in control of my body and mind(even if was only for 90 minutes a day).
Mmmm... yes. Slowing down. Feels so good, once we realize how essential it is to our health, and once we allow ourselves to do it. You've given yourself a wonderful gift by taking on this challenge, my dear. What were your intentions for the challenge?
To improve my postures and achieve overall health. I'd also like to see myself become stronger physically and mentally.
Done & done. What about postures? Which are your favorite/least favorite?
This is a tough question. I have many favorites but i guess if I had to choose just one, I would have to say floor bow because it was one of the postures I struggled the most with but now I understand it and it is one of my strongest ones + it is a beautiful posture. Least favorite, I would have to say half moon because I haven't yet learn how to control my breathing while in the posture and it requires a lot of core strength, which I have a hard time with.
Yes! It's amazing how one we understand the posture, there's an affinity to it. The breathing can be a bit tricky in half moon. I recommend trying 80-20 (it's helped me loads). During 80-20 breathing, you essentially start with a full breath, but during the posture maintain 80% of the air inside your lungs, while using only 20% to inhale and exhale. It's easier than it sounds.
There's something else I am curious to know. Towards the end of your 100 day challenge, you did the Foxy Bod program. Did you notice a difference in your body, and in your practice, while you did the program?
I did. I usually take class after work and can be a little tired or hungry which can make the practice a bit more difficult because your mind keeps reminding you of this. While on the Foxy Bod program, I never felt hungry or tired, I feel like it really balanced me.
I realize that what you put into your body is very important. Having a healthy relationship with food and choosing foods that give you energy and make you feel great really makes a difference in the practice(mentally and physically). It is a challenging practice and any little bit you can do outside the hot room will help you in there.
And that's why we love it. Any last thoughts, my dear?
I can say after completing the challenge that this whole experience has been an amazing one. I really feel like a complete different person both inside and out. If you really want to make a difference in your life, this is a great way of doing it, challenge yourself and don't be a afraid. Discover what you are made of. Believe me, we are all stronger than we think we are and we limit ourselves with our minds. I know I emerged from this experience really leaning a lot about myself and knowing that the sky's the limit for me and just feeling an incredible sense of accomplishment and clarity. During the process, I kept discovering what my body could do with the help of my mind if I just let go. I became stronger, I felt in control for the first time and I was glad I gave myself this opportunity.
Gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing, Tiffany. To clarity, strength, letting go, self-care, and feeling foxy!
How did you hear about bikram?
I first heard about Bikram yoga a few years ago when a good friend of mine started taking classes. I remember her telling me about it with great enthusiasm! I definitely thought about giving it a try at the time but it actually ended up taking me quite a while to get round to it.
I’d done some yoga classes before and really enjoyed them. At this point (and right up until I took my first Bikram class) I was a member of a gym and used to go running. I never quite got over feeling it was all a bit of a chore - I did it because I didn’t like the idea of doing nothing. For a while I had been thinking about doing yoga again in some form alongside running, hoping it would help with stress and improve flexibility. What I didn't realise until I tried Bikram was that instead of complimenting my other exercise, yoga could offer me a full body, full on cardio workout on top of these other benefits. At the time of taking my first class, I certainly didn't think I would be cancelling my gym membership when my 2-week intro offer came to an end.
Yes... it's quite the package! Tell me about your first class?
I remember being a bit nervous beforehand, worried about what to wear and wondering if I would somehow commit some horrible yoga faux pas. It was great that I had a friend who was used to the practice to give me some tips – drinking loads of water and not eating right before a class – simple things that I have since learnt can make a massive difference. I also did a bit of online research so I knew what the format of the class might be like.
Of course, none of that can really prepare you for the actual experience, which is quite intense! I remember mostly being quite affronted by the teaching style and thinking that although I loved the class, the teacher was a bit full on and needed to stop acting like a sergeant major! Pretty soon he became one of my favouirite teachers as I started to appreciate the yoga as a discipline and began to understand and become familiar with the unique teaching style.
I coped pretty well (even though I was in what I have since learnt is the hottest corner of the room) I don't think I actually sat down at all! Sometimes now, when I am struggling, I wonder how I managed to get through so easily. I don't think it was until my third class that I really felt any hint of the bad stuff I had heard I might feel. I had to sit out most of the floor series..I pretty much had a panic attack in the corner of the room but I was determined to stay. I knew this practice was also about developing mental strength. That still registers as one of the worst classes I have ever taken. So I took a day off to rest my body and after that, I was back for more!
I was amazed by how much sweat was produced, delighted at how smooth my skin felt afterwards and a few hours after the class finished I couldn't wait to go back and do it all again.
You got hooked! That's awesome. What kept you coming back for more?
I am not sure I would have come back had my third class been my first! But after my first class I felt great and I was completely and instantly hooked. It ticked all the boxes - I enjoyed it, I could already feel this was doing me a lot of good on many levels, it really caught my interest and I wanted to learn as much as possible about it. There is so much information online. I’ve found some great blogs (including this one!) and I think the ‘beginning yoga class’ book is great as well. I love the way it tells you how you might experience the postures as a beginner while also telling you the ideal form and there are loads of pictures.
(Gushes!) That's great. I'm glad that this blog reaches Bikram enthusiasts such as yourself :) I remember when I first started 5 years ago, there was so little online. Which is what inspired me to start this blog :) Do you have any injuries?
A few years of gyming/running had left my knee and my right hip hurting. I never pushed to get a proper diagnosis. When I went to the doctor complaining about the pain they just prescribed me some anti inflammatory pills and painkillers, which I didn’t really want to take. I wasn't keen on the 'side effects'. It felt like I was injuring my body in the process of trying to improve my health.
That sounds about right. Good move. What is it about the practice like/dislike about the practice?
So many things to love but those that spring to mind: The heat, especially on a cold day in the winter. Walking into the hot room when it’s less than toasty outside (often the case in London, sadly) is bliss! My previous experience of doing yoga was of drafty rooms and halls, which seems quite a strange concept to me now. I enjoy the heat but can also really see why it is beneficial to the practice.
I have really enjoyed seeing positive changes in my entire body without hurting myself in the process. My hip is still tighter on one side but it no longer aches if I lay on my side to sleep. My knee used to complain in fixed firm but now the discomfort is almost totally gone and I hardly ever feel it day to day. I feel more physically fit, balanced and in tune with my body than when I was using weights and pounding the pavement plus I don't have to try and persuade myself to go, I actually enjoy it! I am more flexible and alongside all of that I get 90mins of not thinking or worrying about anything else. I can turn off (or at least turn down) my inner chatter and really give myself a break from the world outside of the studio.
I love the discipline of Bikram and, despite my initial reservations, the way that comes across in the dialogue and teaching style. When I think about how each class is made up of the same 26 postures/2 breathing exercises and yet no two classes are the same.. I find that really exciting and it makes every class a new challenge. To me, it is because it is the same postures, in the same order that you can see clear progress and development over time. I really noticed this doing a 30-day challenge. I don’t mean comparing day-to-day (which is a bad idea, I have learnt) but more long term, I love to observe what I can do now, compared to 10months ago.
When I had been to yoga classes in the past, while I had some good teachers, I never felt sure I fully understood how to do it right, whereas I do with Bikram. The dialogue is very clear (although I relied on Google to locate my scapula!) Even if I can't get into the full expression, I am confident that however much of the posture I am able to do, I am doing right. If I want to improve, all I need to do is listen and try. The teacher is not demonstrating so you are not trying to peer around the room to see how it should be done. Everything you need is in the words so you can focus completely on yourself and your practice, your balance. The unchanging dialogue and sequence helps me focus, concentrate, meditate.
I dislike: The changing rooms for being way too small (although I have only been to two studios and apart from that both were good) The constant laundry, especially during challenges and the fact that there is no studio in walking distance of my house.
Awesome! You paint quite a complete picture :) Tell me, what inspired you to complete the 30 day challenge?
I have just finished my second challenge and I am already thinking about my third (actually would like to make it a 60 day challenge but we'll see about that!) Mostly I just wanted to improve my practice as much as I could. A 30DC certainly seems to do that, so I have decided I will try and do this a couple of times a year.
After my first few weeks of taking class I started thinking about teacher training and the more I get to know and learn about this yoga the more I feel like I want to head in that direction, eventually. I have only been practicing for 10 months so still have a long way to go for sure! I also want to experiment a bit with other styles, especially other hot yoga this year. I've read some of the TT blogs so I know how tough it would be and that it would challenge me on so many levels. I have found something I have a real passion for so I would love to share that and make this yoga a major part of my life, more than just something I do after my ‘real job’ or in my spare time.
Another motivation? At Hot Bikram Yoga London http://www.bikramyogalondon.com/ you got a t-shirt saying something like '30 days in 40 degrees - I did it!' which I am not ashamed to say, I really wanted! J
That rocks. That's totally how I felt when I completed my challenge--
also in London- at the Fulham studio :) It's tough but if your passionate about it, it feels great! Can you tell me about the intentions you set for this challenge?
On my first challenge I wasn't sure what to expect, I guess I hoped to be able to do certain things by the end of it but quickly realised that was not really how it works. It wasn't a case of trying to do anything in particular or make anything specific to happen during the 30 days. I made improvements where I didn't expect to while still not being able to get my forehead to touch the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching!
With my second challenge, I felt less afraid I wouldn't be able to complete it and just wanted to enjoy and see what happened. I finished last week and think that overall each posture has improved, even if in a very small way. I decided to start at a really busy time for me at work and hoped the daily practice would help to combat all the work demands and stresses. It gave me something positive to do on each day, something just for myself amid the work chaos. I think it helped me cope for sure, although it did mean I did almost nothing but work and yoga for 30days!
Yikes! That's a full plate! Well done!! Now finally... tell me about your favorite/least favorite posture and why?
Both change constantly but at the moment triangle is my favouirite. I can see big improvements which makes me happy (probably a lot of these happened during the last 30 days) The reason I love it though is that I can still feel I have so much to work on meaning it has the perfect balance of challenge and achievement for me. I also love half tortoise for giving me a boost of energy in class, often just when I need it most.
My least favouirite used to be camel and I sat it out a lot at the start but now I am starting to like it (I never thought I would say that!) Now, I guess it might be Eagle. I am really struggling to make progress in getting my elbows, knees and ankles in one line without wobbling about everywhere. I find it really tough on my legs which are often quivering after the first set which does not help with balance!
Thank you so much for sharing, sweet Nicola. I admire & can relate to your curiosity & thirst for this practice. Follow your heart, keep it wide open, and this yoga will give you a completely new fantastic life! love love!
Hi everybody. I know it's been a few months since I've featured a 30-day-challenge yogi. I've been wrapped up with launching my business, La Dea Vita. It translates into the Goddess Life, and I am designing yoga wear for women of diverse shapes & sizes. May we all look and feel like Goddesses when we show up for our practice! And speaking of Goddesses, let me introduce you to Joanna.
MH: Hi Joanna. How did you stumble upon Bikram Yoga?
JW: I tried a class in Raleigh, NC probably more than 10 years ago, but I didn't become hooked at the time. I didn't think I was ready. After regularly practicing other types of yoga during the intervening years, my friend Connie suggested that we go to a Bikram class together at the wonderful studio in Winston-Salem, NC in the fall of 2008.
Do you recall what that second 1st class was like?
I can't really tell you about it specifically. It's not like I tried to leave the room or anything. It was certainly surprisingly hot and challenging, but my background in dance and yoga enabled me to listen to my body, take it at my own pace, and not panic.
That's wonderful, as your body is a trust-worthy instrument. Why did you decide to stick with it this time?
I came back because of the amazing way I felt afterward. I could feel that lots of stagnant energy, previously trapped in my body, had been stirred up and released, leaving me deeply relaxed, calm, and better able to face the challenges of the day.
Yeah, I love how transformative and so very healing this practice is. Where or are you working with any injuries?
I've had ongoing problems with my lower back ever since being in a bad car accident in 1995. However, when I'm doing Bikram Yoga regularly, it doesn't bother me at all. When the yoga stops, the pain comes back. That's one of the reasons I know this will be a lifelong practice. I also have a weak left ankle as a reminder of a bad sprain there about 6 years ago. I find rolling up on my tippy toes in Awkward Pose very difficult, and also extremely strengthening for that ankle.
Yeah, I have to agree. I also feel that this is a lifelong practice, and I too feel the pain creep back in when I dont practice regularly. Please share with me, what do you like/dislike about the practice?
I like many things: the fact that it's the same every time allows me to really see and feel progress from class to class; the way it regulates my emotions; and seeing a community of like-minded people at the yoga studio. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in a dance studio, and Bikram class reminds me of ballet class...the discipline, the focus on proper alignment, the expectation that I will respect the teacher's expertise and try my best to make the corrections he or she offers. I only wish that Bikram Yoga had been part of my life when I was seriously dancing. I think the training methods are wonderfully complementary. I'm certain that my backbend is deeper (and healthier) now than when I was a teenage ballerina! I can't think of anything I dislike about the practice. I guess maybe the smell of the hot room sometimes, but never during class. I'm extremely grateful to have found Bikram Yoga. It has changed my life profoundly.
I hear that so many times from so many people: "I wish I'd found Bikram Yoga sooner..." but of course, here we are today and we are all benefiting from the practice. What inspired you to do a 30DC?
I've wanted to do a Challenge since I rediscovered Bikram Yoga in 2008, but the logistics of my life didn't make it possible. When I started a new job with predictable hours and in close proximity to my new home studio - Bikram Yoga Amherst in Western Massachusetts - I realized that it was finally possible for me to give it a try...and I went for it with gusto!
That's great :) And now that the perfect time has presented itself for you to immerse yourself in the practice, have you set any intentions?
I made the commitment to the Challenge directly after something upsetting occurred in my life. I thought I would benefit from the daily release; that it would help calm obsessive thoughts and keep emotions from getting stored in my body. I do think the daily practice has allowed me to achieve those things, but there have been other benefits as well: I feel more tightly pulled in to the center line of my body; every part of my body is stronger and more flexible; and my skin looks and feels amazing (if I do say so myself).
I second that-- your skin is glowing! As is your smile :) What about the postures? Which ones are your fav/least fav?
I love Half Moon pose - all four directions. It releases so much tension so quickly, and feels great. I'm also in love with Triangle. When I get everything lined up right, and am stretching in all directions at once, I feel like I'm plugged directly in to the Universe. You know what I mean?
Amen sister. I know exactly what you mean.
My least favorite posture is probably Standing Head to Knee because it's so difficult for me. Even after all this practice, I struggle to grip my foot correctly. However, when I have a good day with it, it is oh-so-satisfying!
Yeah. Lately I've been asking my students to pay extra attention to their footing. So often we're focused on the knee and getting the forehead to thouch and X,Y,Z that the very essentials of footing are forgotten. Especially as you heal your left ankle, make sure that the foot is on the floor with weight distributed throughout (no gripping the towel with your toes!) Any last closing words my dear?
I've developed little rituals to help keep me motivated to go to the studio day after day, and one that I find most helpful, especially because I love colors and sparkly things, is to put a sparkly, colorful sticker on my wall calendar at home after each class. As the month goes on, the calendar fills up with stickers,and I find it to be a helpful visual reminder of what I'm accomplishing.
Stickers! Yeah, brilliant. I love that. Thanks so much for sharing Joanna. Keep on shining, sister!
Hello, hello. Heat wave? Check. Water bottle? Check. Bikram yoga daily? Check. Most people think we're crazy for practicing in this heat, but really, it is because we practice in the heat that we can handle the rest of our day without freakin out. This month's featured yogi is Amanda McFarland from Massachusetts. Check out what she's got to say about her challenge...
MH: Hi Amanda. How did you stumble into the hot room your very first time?
AM: I had just moved to MA from NYC and was looking for a yoga studio. the nearest class that fit my schedule was a Bikram class, thank goodness!
And how did that first class go for you?
The class was packed with people and it felt hotter than the NYC subway in July. I stood in the front row because i thought it was really the back row... how humiliating! i stayed in the room for the full 90 minutes and that was the most I could that day.
Ohhhh....yes. NYC subway in July, I hear that. For most people, dealing with the heat is usually the biggest challenge. Which is why just staying in the room the whole 90 minutes is such a victory. Well done. What made you come back?
During my first class i realized how out of shape i was for a 33 year old--i went back to combat that obstacle. And because even though i was terribly miserable in the class, after i left i could not stop thinking about when i would be able to go back.
Ha... this is going to sound really dorky but if i had a dollar for every time I heard that I would commute in this bicycle (it would say 'Mishel' of course) with nothing but my black Amex in my back pocket. Mmmm.... anyway... are you, or were you working with any injuries?
Before practicing Bikram yoga regularly i would have described myself as having a bad back.
I can see that. Getting in the hot room and moving your spine (especially backbending) does wonders for your back. What is it that you like about the practice?
I love that it gives me the chance to transform my mind and my body simultaneously. Since i started practicing regularly i feel that all the energy i expend while i am in class has made room for other, more positive energy to be present in my everyday life. i feel more physically and mentally empowered.
That's beautiful. It's so very true. And since positive energy multiplies, everyone you encounter in your day and all the people in your life benefit too :) Any dislikes about the practice?
I dislike all the laundry that comes along with it.
Yeah. It's a hindrance, but as I wash them, I love to think of those sweaty clothes as trophies for victoriously showing up for practice. Now tell me, what made you sign-up for a 30DC?
I am eager to see if i can make strides in postures that i struggle with. My husband and i are doing the challenge together and the commitment to practice is also a commitment to having a shared experience.
That's amazing. You guys must share stories all the time. Did you set any intentions before starting?
Yes. My intention is to make bikram a part of my everyday life, to always find room for what makes me feel wonderful and to embrace the energy i receive when i practice.
You just reminded me of an intention-setting usually done in spiritual ceremonies... when summoning the winds of the north, the Hummingbird is called upon to guide us to where our nectar is in life, and to give us the discipline to go there most often. It's so great that you've found yours :) Now finally... tell me, which are your fav/least fav postures & why.
Triangle pose is my least favorite. I regularly find myself dreading it from the moment the class starts. i have to say to myself 'i love triangle, i love triangle' to get through. Standing bow is my favorite posture. 1.5 years ago i was not even able to grab my foot but it didnt take long before my foot was above my head in the mirror, with my body down, the more i kick i can "balance forever."
Yup. And so the dialogue goes. As for triangle, check out this video where Bikram gives tips on how to improve it. It was such a pleasure to hear your story, Amanda. Stay strong, and may you have the discipline to go where your nectar is in life, for the rest of your life :)
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Hey guys. Meet Carrie. She practices @ Bikram Yoga Manhattan.
MH: Hey Carrie. How did you encounter Bikram Yoga?
CT: My best friend suggested I try it to enjoy some heat during a cold winter.
Yeah. The hot room is where everyone's at during the frigid winters. And scorching hot summers ;) Tell me about your first class?
I went to my first class in January 2004 at the studio in Soho. I stood in front row under a heat vent (I didn't understand what that meant on that day). The instructor asked if i would be ok. I remember saying with confidence "ive never done this before but, i'll be ok-im a runner". Well, within 10 minutes I could not stand up anymore the heat just blasted me! Not only did I feel naseaus I felt dirty. I thought to myself everyone's sweat is so clean and clear-they look beautiful and blissful. My sweat looked grey and it was so difficult to look at myself in the eye for 90 minutes without be judgemental of my body. I could get over the not being able to hold every posture on the first day but, the hope of clean sweat and a blissful face made me return.
Brave! That's so funny how you mention clean sweat. I totally know what you mean. Actually reminds me of a story my friend told me. He went out one night and ate like 25 dumplings and the next day in class he told me his sweat tasted like dumpling juice. Gross! I know I know. Funny too. But yeah, when you're hydrated and you practice regularly, its just H2O coming out. Why did you return?
The peaceful faces, the clean sweat and hearing from the instructors that all those people in the front row felt just like me when they started. So there was hope to get better and explore my edge in a no judgement zone. Every time I came back I did get a little better. At first better meant less naseaus, then keep standing for the whole class, then do all the postures, then learn to keep breathing....
That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Little by little the bird builds its nest. Where you/are you working through any injuries right now?
I had a broken heart/spirit. Some days I would just cry during class especially after camel. I have practiced this yoga for over 6 years. I have strengthend my knees, my biceps, my back and my abs but the musle that has strengthned the most is my heart/spirit. Once I started practicing with a stronger heart my postures have gone deeper and I have witnessed a full expression of myself that I didn't even know existed. Sometimes I am so happy during class I just start giggling or smiling for no reason.
I totally know the feeling! Thanks for reminding me of those happy moments. And thanks for sharing your emotional struggles. It's amazing how uplifting you feel when you practice regularly.
Well what I have heard repeated by all the instructors and Bikram himself is whatever you dislike the most is what you need to do the most! I hate that it is sooo true. I like the discipline required. You can 't be late you have to always start from the beginning. And you can't just follow and copy the instructor you have to listen and create your own progress. You must accept where you are in the moment. Everyday is your best yoga-some days are deeper than others but, you are never failing if you give 100% effort.
Precisely. And what exactly motivated you to do a 30 day challenge?
It was a long hard winter. I just felt the winter blues in full effect. I wanted to get motivated for the spring/summer, then I just wanted to feel alive again! I never regret going to a yoga class once im there so I decided to give myself that feeling everyday.
Yeah. Winters can be tough here in NYC. And it's true about not regretting your practice... once a teacher told me (promise its not a gross dumpling-like story) that the worst class you can have is the one you didnt show up to. Tell me about the challenge itself.
This challenge was dedicated to commitment and trust. I wanted to see if I could commit to going everyday and make the time in my schedule and in my life to actually go, clear my mind and give my all for 30 days. Did I trust my word? Some days i had to go to 6:30am classes before work; some days, to keep my word, i was literally running to the last class at 8pm, went to sleep and went right back to the first class the next morning. Shockingly I had more energy than ever. But, on those days when I couldn't move my body out of bed or couldn't lift my arm up to wash it I didn't give up only because I gave my word to myself.-No financial gain, no trophy just keeping my word was the prize. I thought I would lose weight but, what actually happened is I gained integrity. That integrity revealed itself in my postures. I never sat through a class, I always tried harder, breathed deeper, stood taller, smiled bigger, laughed louder and yes, i stood on my toe! (even just for 3 seconds!)
Right on! Those 3 seconds will turn into 4, then 5, and then 10. Till one day you can just stay in the pose for as long as you want. Speaking of poses, which ones are your favs/least favs?
Today I can say I love them all. My favorite is eagle. I started identifying with the spirit of the eagle. If the eagle stops flapping its wings it will fall out of the sky...so I keep going forward, i keep breathing so I don't fall. If I can get to this posture with even breath I am all in there is no turning back and then there will be WATER. I couldn't wrap my foot for over a year then I could wrap one and not the other for another year, now I can wrap both. But, you can always get deeper the work is never done. My least favorite is Triangle. It takes all of my energy and focus. There is no hiding or over compensating with another muscle. You must use every muscle. I can do it and its a mighty fine triangle but, I get stuck in my head. Somedays I bargain and do only one set. I know im only cheating myself but that keeps my practice humble. I always have something to strive for and work on. This yoga truly is a union of the mind and body. When you keep breathing and empty out all of the voices in your head your body can do anything you tell it to do. Anytime you can't do something its because you failed in your mind first-so just envision yourself doing it and then just do it! My next challenge will be dedicated to fear. I do not want to be afraid of my own progress, I will not fall and if I do I will fall forward.
Yes I totally have to agree with you about visioning yourself doing things you want to do. That's such a powerful tool to attract what you want in your life. Thanks so much for sharing Carrie! Maybe I'll see you around the SoHo studio one day!
Yogis! Buckle down, keep a fire extinguisher handy... this story is so hot, exquisite & fun you might need some in-case-of-emergency tools around...
This month, we got the fabulous Sheila Bayne who practices at the studio in Downtown LA.
MH: Hi gorgeous! I am so excited to hear about your 30 day challenge. Let's start with my favorite question: how did you hear about Bikram Yoga?
SB: The first time I heard of Bikram Yoga was back in 1980 from a friend who was taking classes from Bikram. Fast forward to 2001: I was going through a divorce, and had been suffering from chronic, daily neck pain for well over a year... nothing helped it. Finally, a physical therapist suggested yoga. Bikram had just opened his West L.A. HQ a few blocks from my house, so I planned to check it out. However, being a procrastinator, I opted for buying his ‘Yoga for Beginners’ book. Very shortly thereafter, on a summer’s day, I had returned from swimming lessons at the Y with my three young sons, and parked across the street from my house. Inexplicably, one of my boys suddenly jumped out of our van and dashed across the street… directly in the path of a huge old Bentley, which screeched to a halt! My son stood there, with his hands on the hood, looking flabbergasted, but, otherwise, perfectly fine. I jumped out of the van in a dazed panic. The Indian guy driving the Bentley jumped out too, proclaiming, “I saved his life! I saved his life!” We sat there for a while, the Indian lifesaver guy, my kids, and myself… who collapsed into tears of relief. Later, checking out the yoga book, I realized that I had had an intensely close encounter with Bikram himself, and that I was getting a big kick-in-the-ass from the universe to actually GO to Bikram yoga. I did so immediately, went steadily for at least several months, and the neck pain disappeared, NEVER TO RETURN! When I think about this metaphorically, I can think of it in terms of heedlessly dashing out to the edge of the precipice— i.e., living on the edge, not taking care of myself-- but Bikram comes along to “save my life.” Cool, huh?
Are you kidding me?! That is the coolest thing I've heard! I can see them making a movie out of just that bit already :) So, how was it when you FINALLY went to your first class?
I absolutely, completely, more than other normal people, DETEST heat and perspiration, especially when it is not associated with something that is actually fun… but I recognize that good things usually come out of hard work, so I respected the tough-love approach and remained. I remember panicking in camel pose, so that was interesting!
I'm so glad you bring this up. Many people don't handle heat well either, and therefore don't even attempt a class. Others even say that it's bad for you. Just the other day I had a first time student who told me he'd been wanting to come for months but didn't because his yoga teacher told him it was dangerous. For the record: it's not dangerous. This student is now a regular and like the rest of us, is receiving benefit upon benefit. So tell me, what kept you coming back?
I was on a mission. Besides, I needed some relief from my neck pain, and this was the only option, since nothing else had worked.
Yes, living pain-free is probably the best motivator. What is it that you like and dislike about the practice?
Dislikes: The heat. The sweat. It stinks, though I am beginning to like that in a perverse way. Having to be consistent. The laundry. The planning in advance so I can leave the house at 5:30 a.m. to catch the six a.m. class. The lack of sleep. It’s a sacrifice. Likes: Looking good! Feeling good! Having great skin! Getting rid of those annoying aches and pains that have seemed to crop up increasingly in my fifties. I have the sense that I am doing the best I can for my health, and that is very satisfying. I also enjoy going to class at daybreak!
Yeah, if you were to put those on a scale, I can totally see the goods TOTALLY outweighing the BADS. (Ps- i admit too that I like that smell of sweat and tea tree oil... walking in to my studio always smells nice to me) What about postures... which ones are your favs... and not so favs?
WHYOHWHYDOIHATEFIXEDFIRMSOMUCH??? Sorry. But I do. And standing head-to-knee is basically a hatefest too. I guess the knees are a problem. Love half tortoise. Love full locust. Dig camel. Don’t know why, they just feel good.
Ha. Remember to be easy and gentle with your knees. Bikram says all the time: "You can mess with the gods but DON'T mess with your knees." Be patient and consistent & you'll see the results. And finally... tell me why you're doing the 30 day challenge?
In for a penny, in for a pound. I may as well jump in completely, in the hopes of creating a healthy addiction to feeling great. Then, the addiction can take the place of discipline, and I won’t have to try as hard to attain consistency.
You know what? I read somewhere recently that a behavior doesn't become a habit until at least 3 months of daily practice. And finally, tell me what your intentions are for this challenge.
My weight (about 20 lbs to lose) is now as stubborn as the neck pain was 10 years ago. If that was permanently resolved by Bikram yoga when nothing else would work, perhaps it will create change in my weight as well. I hope so. And if not, well, I get to feel good and know I am protecting my body from the aging process as much as I can.
Just you wait. Keep up the practice and you can bid adieu to those extra pounds. I'm cheering you on... and hope that you manifest all the intentions and desires through and with the help of your 30 day challenge. Please keep me updated! Cheers :)
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This month, we got Tony Perone who practices at Bikram Yoga Andersonville in Chicago, IL.
MH: Hi there Tony! So very excited to hear about your journey & your 30 day challenge. Let's start with the basics: how did you hear about Bikram Yoga?
TP: I had done other forms of yoga before like Ashtanga and I had heard of Bikram yoga. I had also passed by the Andersonville studio frequently on my walks around my neighborhood, and always said to myself, or whomever was with me at the time, "I wanna try that someday."
Nice! Setting your intention by saying it out loud! So when did that "someday" finally happen? Did you come alone? Or did someone say to you, "Oh yeah? Why someday? Let's go RIGHT NOW!"
My roommate at the time had tried Bikram in his hometown and his experience really got me interested in trying it. I finally decided to try it on my 38th birthday in January 2010. My roommate and I went for the first time together that day.
I totally love that you went on your birthday. What an extraordinary thing to gift yourself. Tell me a bit about your first class.
I was expecting it to be like a sauna, with steam coming out of radiators. While it was hot, I instantly felt comfortable. Well, until the class started, that is! I don't recall too much of what or how well I did but I do remember my teacher being supportive and calm. And I just did the best I could and stayed in the room.
Oh really, no steam? That's odd because not only do we have steam coming out of radiators but also flames. Tee-hee just kidding. It sounds like you had a good experience if you stayed. That's really the main goal on your first day. But why did you come back?
As soon as my roommate and I left the studio, I said to him, "That was great. I feel awesome. I'm going back."
Yay. Oh, that post-class kick-ass-conquer-the-world feeling is so amazing ain't it? Enough to keep you coming back. Tell me, what inspired you to come for 30 days in a row?
It had been something I had been toying with for a few months before committing to it. I was being wishy-washy about it, thinking that I'd just go as many days as I could and see if it turned into 30 days. I knew I wanted to try it and I knew it would improve my practice and overall quality of life but something was holding me back from going for it. I am so grateful that one of my teachers encouraged me to declare the challenge and commit to it. She was so right. Now, I'm planning on going beyond the 30 days!
A big YES to all the teachers out there! So great. By the way, are there any injuries you are working with?
Well, I bring certain conditions to heal in my practice, like: asthma/allergies, tight hips, lower back pain, flat feet, and weak knees. I have improved on all of these conditions and more since starting Bikram yoga.
Wonderful. That's really great to hear. What are the things that you like or dislike about the practice?
I love the focus on myself and the way this practice has encouraged me to choose healthier possibilities for my body, mind, and spirit. Since I live my life doing a lot of thinking, sitting, and talking, it's great to let those inclinations go, and while I am in class, just listen to the dialogue, honor my body for however it is at that moment, and BREATHE. I am so lucky to have found this practice and such a supportive community with whom to share growth and change! I don't really have any dislikes about the practice except that I need to do my laundry more often. And buy more towels.
I hear you loud and clear. Though to be fair, girls have it worse. You guys just need to wash pair of shorts. We gotta wash whole outfits! But a small price to pay indeed. Can you tell me what are your intentions for completing this challenge?
First, I'd like to honor my body each day for what it can do. Second, I'd like to continue to marvel in the growth and changes that come from this practice. Third, I'd like to inspire others to go after a goal, stick to it, and flourish, be it a goal of Bikram yoga or otherwise.
Those are lofty! Very inspiring! And lastly, share with us your favorite and least favorite posture.
It varies. It used to be that my favorite ones were the 2nd part of Awkward and Standing Bow because I was feeling balanced and stronger in my thighs and knees. Now it's Fixed Firm, since my hips finally are all the way on the floor! My least favorite has always been Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. I guess I really need this one!
You know, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee was also amongst my least favorite. Until I started applying one very important detail: really stretching your arms, shoulders, scapula as you come down. This stretching actually and finally allowed me to touch forehead to knee and balance. Anyway, SO nice meeting you Tony. Good luck and thanks for sharing!
Meet Alissa. She practices at Bikram Yoga Minneapolis.
MH: Nice to meet you Alissa! Ok, let's talk yoga. How did you hear about Bikram?
A: I heard about it through Barb, Martha William's sister (Martha is one of the studio owners). I had mentioned to Barb that I was having health issues, and she said the Bikram might be a good thing to try.
Do you remember what your first class was like?
My boyfriend came with me, and it was the first class for both of us. The class was traumatic. I managed to stay in the room for the duration, but I felt like I was going to hurl chunks the entire time. When I got home, I threw my clothes in the laundry and went to sleep for a long, long time.
You probably slept like a baby. So although it was traumatic for you, why did you come back?
Mostly for health reasons. Even though it was really difficult, I instinctively felt that it was going to (at some point) be an important part of my healing story.
I'm intrigued. Can you tell me more about this healing story? What sort of injuries are you working with?
I have a number of injuries. It's kind of a long story. But last summer, I was in a car crash. I broke my pelvis in three places and a couple ribs. I have some ongoing issues from that (soft tissue, nerve, muscle spasms etc.). Before that, I had a significant toxic exposure which caused some complicated health problems (respiratory, digestive, immune system, and liver issues). So, you could say I'm kind of a work in progress.
Wow, Alissa. This is all intense. I am so glad you found Bikram Yoga. By the way, can you tell me what it is that you like and dislike about the practice?
I like that it is working! Every day, I can notice some progress in my healing. In the beginning, I didn't like that the series was the same every time. But now, I love that part of it. It allows you to check in with yourself and get an honest assessment of just where you are on that particular day. Best of all, I love how you feel at the end of it. Like you've really accomplished something.
Yes, it is so simple (simple, not easy) and it does work! And as you've come to realize, even though the sequence is the same, the class never is. Every day your body is different. But overall, what is it that inspired you to do the 30 day challenge?
I'm at a place in my life right now where I'm very motivated to make some positive changes for my health. I've spent the last several years sort of struggling with issues (and figuring out what was working and what wasn't). And now, I just want to start confronting them head on. I'm tired of letting my life be dictated by health challenges. I'm ready for the next chapter in my story. I actually think I'm going to keep going past thirty days. I'm not sure how long. But I will post progress reports on my blog.
Right on! We did this interview back in January, and I just checked out your blog and it says you just finished your 60th class in a row! YAY! That's so awesome. As a beginner, that is PRECISELY what you want to do. Bikram often tells us: give me 2 months of your life and I will give you back a new life. Tell me a little about your favorite and least favorite postures.
This is always changing and evolving. In the beginning, it was camel pose. I think that dealing with any kind of chronic illness requires dealing with a certain amount of frustration at first. You don't even realize that you are carrying all this excess emotional baggage. At some point, you reaching a climax where your old life just doesn't work anymore. You really have to let go of everything in order to make room for the new. For me, this coincided with camel pose. At first, even thinking about the camel pose made me nauseous. After I got into it the first time, I literally started hyperventilating. My yoga instructor's response was, 'Whatever it is, just let it go.' And I did. I just started breathing. Six hours later, I had a massive emotional release. Just started crying uncontrollably for no reason. But looking back, that was the beginning of a completely new way of life. So your least favorite poses become your favorite. I hear this a lot in the locker room.
Oh, girl. It's all about the backbends. "All backbend heals the spine," Mary Jarvis (one of my dearest teachers is often fond of saying.) And we all need spine healing in some form or another. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and inspiring us with your challenge. You rock!