You did it! 30 classes in 35 days, and looking great! Abby JosephDalette HilsonJessica ManningNiki WakelinJami AguilarNancy AshleyPeace LightAbby JosephKasha Fadaie Not Pictured:Jenni StreicherStephanie StrosriderMaria GarciaBethany Williams Your commitment to yourselves has been an inspiration to those around you. …
We have 13 students currently completing the Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge…great job! You all look vibrant and strong, and it has been a pleasure to see your smiling happy faces in the studio each day. Final day is this …
San Diego, CA
I started my Bikram yoga journey about 7 years ago. Honestly after that first class I didn’t think I was going to come back. However, there was something about it that drew me back. Not only was this a great workout but this yoga did something for me mentally. I felt like if I can handle 90 minutes in the torture chamber I could handle anything life had to offer. It eventually became a daily routine for me like brushing my teeth. Now that I am 25 weeks pregnant I am still continuing my practice. I know that I am doing something wonderful for my baby and me. During my pregnancy Bikram yoga has made me more in tune with what my body needs and how it is feeling. I have noticed I have not had a difficult pregnancy. I have not felt sick or had any aches and pains associated with pregnancy. I feel the yoga has a lot to do with why I have felt so good physically and mentally throughout my pregnancy.
I first tried Bikram Yoga about 8 years ago, during a summer break from ballet. I wasn’t a hard sell. I remember feeling the benefits right away – an incredible sense of well-being, an ease and deep flexibility in my muscles, and an immediate improvement in concentration and focus. But despite my enthusiasm, I didn’t keep up with my practice. I was really busy with a lot of things and just didn’t find the time.
Fast forward to February 2011: after many months of dealing with what I thought was hip tendonitis, I finally got my diagnosis: arthritis, precipitated by dysplasia (that’s when the pelvic socket never did properly cup the head of the femur), and compounded by a bone spur. That explained a lot of what I’d been experiencing. The news didn’t really hit me until I got home. By then, my whole body was shaking with fear and grief. For 20+ years, ballet has been the absolute center of my life, and this diagnosis was unambiguous and final. No dancing with this hip.
I went to class the next day. A little later, I started the 30 Day Challenge. I reminded myself that I had been wanting to find a better balance in my life anyway, with less ballet and more time for other work projects. And I kind of slipped right into a routine of practicing regularly. The extreme physicality of Bikram Yoga is on par with what I’m used to, and it’s a relief to still able to wear myself out physically. I have always needed this kind of physical release, and can become lethargic and kind of depressed when I’m inactive.
Some people have remarked to me that I seem to be ‘good’ at Bikram Yoga, and I appreciate their kind words but it kind of cracks me up. I may look a little more comfortable or natural, due to so many years of dancing, but I feel like it’s an enormous struggle every time. Not just because of the heat and the intensity of the postures, but because the parallel alignment of the legs directly addresses my long-term muscle imbalances. I can balance all day on an outwardly rotated leg, but standing on one leg in parallel is only slowly becoming more possible. I can lock my knee now for maybe 10 seconds at a time before it buckles. I do have crazy loose hamstrings, so I really never feel a pulling in the backs of my knees, but any of the postures that have a goal of putting the stomach on the thighs/chest on the leg, like pada-hasthasana, are really difficult because of the bone spur in my hip. I think I will have to wait for hip surgery to be a true Japanese ham sandwich.
Yoga changed my life. As Bikram says, as a first-timer, I walked in the door with a “broken body, screw loose brains and a lost soul”.
I was severely depressed and had been diagnosed with PTSD. I was raped, beaten and stabbed by three grown men when I was 13-years-old. The terror, the fear, the shame and the anger that ensued for years to come ate at my spirit. I was pretty good at putting up a happy face, because I learned quickly that sadness made people feel uncomfortable. But inside, I felt tremendous heaviness and pain that would keep me up at night. I wanted in some way to numb the anguish I was internalizing, so I stopped eating. Or I would binge and purge.
By the time I was 21, I had lost complete control of my body. My hair was falling out from the lack of nutrition, I was constantly cold and shivering, I had ulcers, uncountable cavities and no self-esteem. I hated myself.
Then, that fateful cold, wet Canadian winter day: When I stepped into the room, I could not meet my own eyes in the front mirror.
And my teacher just kept saying, “Look at yourself in the mirror”. Over time, I learned to do just that. Over time, as I learned to practise without beating my own body up, just simply practising without expectations, I saw my body change and exceed my expectations about what it can do. I learned to respect, then admire, then eventually love my own body and self. I should note that I don’t mean I love the physical change in size or shape of my body – I just learned to love my body as it is. I would consider this the greatest accomplishment of my life – to journey from hating myself to loving myself.
Physically, I felt great. I became stronger and more mobile. Because I tried hard to practise being mindful in the hot room, this carried over to my everyday life, including my eating. I had to re-learn what my body’s cues were to being hungry and full. Learning to be mindful was a great tool in understanding my own body. But the greatest accomplishment was to see my own body and self from a place of love. Otherwise, none of the healing could have happened.
Healing didn’t happen overnight, it took me another 2 years to not have relapses. I don’t know if Bikram yoga would work for everybody with a history of eating disorders – it did with me, but it was an arduously long and painful process.
I am always going to be grateful to what yoga has done for me. How it feeds my soul, and taught my body and mind to love each other. It has given me true internal happiness and it all started with learning to “lock the knee”.