I began practicing Bikram for the first time over 8 years ago in San Francisco. I had just recently quit drinking and was cleaning up my act in more than one way. I loved the intensity and overall sense of well-being I got from the practice. I’d been working out at the gym doing cardio and circuit training, as well as some power vinyasa yoga classes. I wasn’t a newbie to exercise, however nothing has ever compared to the 26 Bikram postures in that hot room!
I’ve suffered from chronic pain due to scoliosis since I was a teenager. I’ve seen chiropractors and been on and off prescription medications all my life. I heard the instructors saying in class that the practice will heal you and correct imbalances that haunt your well-being. I believed them and dedicated myself to Bikram, practicing 5-7 times a week. There was a time in my life when I thought I’d forever been on narcotic pain medication and still be in pain all the time. I’m happy to say I don’t take any pain medication (other than the occasional over-the-counter stuff) at all, and my back feels great!!
Throughout the last 8 years, I’ve experienced immense changes within myself, not just physically but mentally as well. The yoga has taught me to breathe and be at peace, no matter what is going on outside of me. If I can smile in a scorching-hot room while calmly breathing through my nose during strenuous postures, I can surely stand in line at the DMV without acting out! You see, yoga isn’t just about making your physical body healthier; it’s about making your ENTIRE self healthier. Form first, depth after. Pride goeth before a fall….from Standing Bow Pulling!
I’ve learned to be very mindful with regards to my back. The instructors are always very helpful in answering specific questions before or after class. As my spine is slightly curved and I have one shorter leg, my practice reflects this. I push farther when bending to the right, as my left leg is shorter. I hold back a
bit going the other way. When I do forward-bending postures, I make sure to hold my lower abdomen in as tightly as possible, as I’ve experienced setbacks from being thoughtless and prideful when I extend forward.
Form before depth…a lesson I keep learning, not just in my practice but out there in the ‘real
I love to bring people to Bikram for their first class. There is a certain type of person who says, “This is for me” right away. Then there are those who struggle and complain and dread it…but they keep coming because the results are so amazing. (personally, I think we all have those days) Then there are those who say “No way! I’m too stiff…I’m too fat….I’m too old….I can’t take the heat….I’m injured…I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…” It’s to those people I hope my message reaches. I’ve seen people’s lives change in ways you wouldn’t believe. Bikram often asks, “Would you rather have 90 minutes of agony or 90 years of agony” Also, the more you practice, the less agonizing it becomes. I never notice the heat now. I’m so grateful I found this practice! Some days, I just need to ‘get in the room’. Those who practice regularly will understand. Bikram heals you, from the inside out. I can feel depressed and lethargic, but if I get myself in the room, I burn it out and I wring it out and I emerge with a totally different mind and body. Whenever I wonder, “Should I go to class?” the answer ALWAYS turns out to be ‘yes’.