I’m often asked two questions from friends who discover that I practice Bikram yoga:
1. How did you get started with Bikram yoga?
2. What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?
How did you get started with Bikram yoga?
Once upon a time, I was a runner. I ran track in high school and earned an NCAA letter running cross-country in college. (Go FSU Bobcats!) As the years progressed, my knees took a beating, and I always HATED running during the winter months. Then in 2002, I was in a car accident and tore my medial meniscus in my right knee. I underwent arthroscopic surgery in 2004, but I never fully recovered my mobility 100%. Needless to say, I stopped running and resigned myself to low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and elliptical workouts.
Unfortunately, nothing I tried ever gave me the same “high” as running. I longed for something that challenged me and provided the same physical and mental stimulation I had once taken for granted with running. I began reviewing various workout options offered at health and fitness clubs: Zumba (too much like a stage performance), Pilates (too expensive), karate (too much competition from my son), boxing (too dangerous for the longevity of my face as it appears today), spinning (too much emphasis on the lower body), swimming (too much body hair to worry about), etc.
But I NEEDED to do SOMETHING to get fit before 40 and feel good about myself again. So, I started doing what anyone would start doing in my situation: I Googled. I did a simple Google search for “exercises that heal the body,” which resulted in a list of meditation-related sites. As I read through the pages, I refined my search to “exercises that use meditation and movement to heal.” From these results, I learned about Tai Chi, Qi-Gong (pronounced chee-gong), and yoga. This lead me to Bikram yoga, which lead me to Bikram Yoga Rockville just around the corner from my house.
Why do you like it so much? What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?
Where to begin…
- The runner’s high – Yes.
- The obvious effect on my body – There is no doubt that I have lost weight and toned up tremendously since starting my practice 6 months ago. Who would walk away from an exercise that gives them the runner’s high AND helps them lose weight without actually running?
- The increased energy upon leaving the hot room – After spending 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees, you would think a person would be so drained and lethargic that he wouldn’t be able to think of anything other than relaxing. Bikram yoga has the complete opposite effect. I leave the room feeling more alive and energized than when I entered. I may be thirsty but not ready for a nap, that’s for sure.
- The dichotomy of the experience – The postures and breathing exercises build upon each other consecutively. Although I feel like my sides are breaking in half-moon pose (#2 in the image above), I am feeling euphoric 45 minutes later coming out of my first camel pose (#22 in the image above). There is a distinct yin/yang or pain/pleasure moving between the agonizing task of holding a position and the peaceful release and “letting go” of savasanas (periods of rest and stillness).
- The people (yogis and trainers) – There is nothing more enjoyable than to share a “workout” with good people, really good people.
- The healing qualities – Each posture works a different muscle group, body part, and/or organ system. From stretching my muscles to working to balance my digestive tract, together the postures heal me. How have I been healed? I’ll be writing a post for each of the 26 postures and breathing exercises over the next 60 days (that’s an average of a new post every 2 days). Each post will detail the touted benefits and the actual benefits I have experienced.