I started practicing Bikram Yoga in 2010. I was hooked after my first class. Call me crazy but I have not tried (and could not imagine) practicing any other type of yoga. I even practiced throughout my pregnancy 3 years ago; incorporating Rajashree’s pregnancy series into some of my poses from 12 weeks up until my 38th week. I would have continued to practice up until my due date; but my son decided to come a week ahead of schedule. My last practice was exactly 2 days before he was born.  The decision to continue my practice throughout my pregnancy was one of the best decisions I had made.  The benefits I derived were amazing and warrants a post of its own. You can read about it here.

Recently, the bikram studios I have been going to are starting to offer Vinyasa Flow classes. Maybe, this time, I’ll get to try something new. But in the meantime, I’m still committed to practicing the Bikram series as a complement to my strength training and other exercises.   Here are some of the things I like (or not) about Bikram Yoga:

  1. It is predictable – Since the 26 postures are done in order at all times, you know what to expect next. This helps on the odd days that I try to practice at home or while on business travel and cannot get to a studio. It also helps when I attend classes in studios that are foreign to me while on vacation. The fact that I know what to expect seemed to provide a bit of comfort that I will be able to get thru the class despite being in a new environment and to recover from my jetlag.
  2. It teaches me to be humble – Each class is always different.  It seems counter intuitive to #1, but let me explain.  Your body and frame of mind is different each time you attend a class.  As a result, you also feel different before, during and after each class (even if you go everyday!).  There are days when I feel like I am nailing most of the poses; and then there were times when I struggle to focus and fall out of the posture (despite attending class the previous day or the day before).  It could be due to various reasons, i.e. my mind stressing about something during practice or my body recovering from a previous workout.  Whatever it might be, I don’t over analyze it; I simply let it go and focus on doing my best in the next posture.  I learn to accept the fact that it is okay to not be “perfect” all the time.  What matters is to pick up where I left off and make the most out of my class today.  Tomorrow is a new day; and another chance to improve and go deeper on my postures.
  3. It is a sweaty session – Hey, this is hot yoga after all! The room is heated to at least 105F (40C) plus humidity.  As much as I hate it when I sweat walking outside on hot summer days, I actually crave the heat and sweat of my yoga class.  I don’t wipe my sweat during practice (when I would certainly do so walking outside on a hot, humid day).  Instead, I let it flow freely and focus on my breathing and executing the poses.  The things that I do not like about these sweaty sessions are: 1) It is always  challenging for me to get back to work in the exact same condition as I came to the office in the morning after attending a class at noon.  2) When the class is packed, there is a chance that someone’s (or sometimes the teacher’s) sweat might drip into your mat, towel or personal space.  If you are OC like me, it can get kind of icky.  I try my best to stay within the corners of my towel on those days, keep my focus and make sure I don’t step on the pool of sweat on my way out of the room after class. Despite these inconveniences, it is hard for me to imagine life without my regular practice.  I learn to deal with these as they come and don’t think too much about it.  After all, it’s all part of the experience.
  4. It takes a lot out of your day – When I started practicing in 2010, there was only one option for the Bikram series, and that is the 90 minutes class.  A 90 minute class may not seem much but when you factor in the time it takes to get to the studio, get ready and the time to shower, change and get back to work or home, that is easily 3 hours of your day dedicated to yoga practice.  Depending on class times and your other commitments, it can mean an entire morning, afternoon or evening lost should you choose to practice on that day.  In order to have more time for my other commitments, I used to attend the 6 – 7:30am classes.  This allowed me to get it done, out of the way and start my day invigorated.  These days, I opt for the 60 minutes classes offered at noon.  It provides me with the needed break in the middle of the work day  and frees up my evenings and weekends to spend time with my little one. A 60 minutes class means allocating 2 hours of my day on the days that I choose to practice, which can still be a big chunk of time but manageable.
  5. It works best when complemented with other exercises – For a time, this has been my only form of work out.  While this can work for some people (mainly younger individuals in my opinion), it is not a viable long-term strategy when you get older.  A month after giving birth, I was back at the studio, having missed my practice and craving some much needed me time.  This still remains to be the only thing that I was doing in terms of regular exercise at that time.  I guess it could also be attributed to the fact that new mothers rarely have time for anything else; so being able to carve out 3 hours a day at least 3 times a week was something I was grateful for.  Nevertheless, I felt that something was missing. My practice seemed to be hitting a plateau.  I started talking to some of my teachers for advice.  Most suggested exploring other activities to complement the practice for better results. After thinking through it, I made the decision to add strength training  to my routine(something I used to do and enjoyed a really long time ago).  It has been almost a year since I went back to the gym.  I have definitely noticed the improvements and difference in my practice and overall results.
  6. It is a lifestyle – I believe that Bikram or any other yoga for that matter is a lifestyle. It is not just another form of exercise.  Yes, people do it for various reasons, e.g. weight loss, relieve stress or for optimal performance in sports and other activities, etc.  These are perfectly good reasons for doing it, and over time, you will reap the benefits you seek. However, there is more to practicing yoga than all of those combined.  It is also about achieving inner transformation, enabling us to live a more balanced life.   From my experience, I am able to extend the discipline of breathe and focus that was instilled in me from my practice into dealing with certain situations that calls for the same discipline (e.g. making tough choices, dealing with frustrations at work, etc.), thus, allowing me to be more productive and not sweat the small stuff.

Published by Kat G