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!