Why I’m Doing Another 30-day Bikram Yoga Challenge and How I Prepare and Remain Motivated

I am embarking on my second Bikram Yoga challenge. The first challenge was almost two years ago in February 2012, just a few months after I started my yoga practice.

Me in Bikram Triangle

Me in Bikram Triangle

To be honest, I never imagined I would be motivated to do another challenge. The first challenge was very beneficial but also tough on my body, mind, spirit and family life. Although I felt accomplished in a mindful and self-aware sort of way upon completing the first challenge, my ego also said, “Well, you did it. You proved you could do it. No need to do that again.”

So I held fast to that egocentric attitude until recently when I started feeling defeated by life and overwhelmed by my responsibilities.

You see, in addition to having a regular 9 to 5 job, I have been writing non-stop on my other blog for 21 months. Over 320 blog posts in 90 weeks. That’s almost an average of 4 blog posts per week.

What I write on my other blog does not result in any sort of financial compensation. None. My compensation comes from the comments and messages I receive from readers who have been positively affected by the message I attempt to share and disseminate, a message related to an understanding of what domestic violence and intimate partner abuse looks like when perpetrated by emotional abusers. Sociopaths and narcissists.

Yeah, it may sound dramatic if you aren’t already familiar with my other blog. And you would be correct. Abuse and control is all about drama. My postings and writings are filled with reactions to that drama, and composing those reactions have been 100% draining. So when October began, I wasn’t surprised when I found myself in need of a break from my other blog and the emotions and feelings it stirred in me.

But a funny thing happened after I made the conscious decision to take a break from writing: I started to feel guilty!

I felt guilty for leaving people hanging. I felt guilty for not being as active as I once was. I have made some incredible friendships through my other blog and value all of the feedback I receive. Actively responding to comments and e-mails was never something I had to struggle with doing. But I found myself struggling, and that made me feel guilty.

Fortunately, I had enough humility (Thank you, yoga!) to reach out to my friends for support. Repeatedly, I received the same message: “Paula, take care of yourself. Put yourself first.”

It took a while for that message to sink in, but once it did, I immediately thought another Bikram Yoga challenge would be just the thing to get me out of my self-imposed slump. I was thinking about doing a challenge on my own but was thrilled to discover the studio where I practice is facilitating a challenge between now and Thanksgiving! (There are no coincidences, I’ve learned.)

I started my second challenge at Bikram Yoga Rockville on Wednesday, October 23 which ends the day before Thanksgiving. (The studio’s challenge actually started on Monday, October 21, so I have two doubles to look forward to completely. I’ll save those for the end.)

Like my first challenge, I had to prepare. Currently, my office is in my home with a more open and flexible schedule than I had during my first challenge. This simply means I have more options for which times I can attend class: mornings, afternoons or evenings. But a more flexible schedule doesn’t mean finding and maintaining my motivation is any less challenging.

Below are some ways I prepared and remain motivated.

In preparation:

  1. Setup a calendar reminder for each day, so I remember to eat. (I sometimes get really busy during the day and forget to eat lunch. If I wait too long, I can’t eat until after yoga. (Bikram instructors recommend that you eat a light meal 2-4 hours prior to your daily practice.)
  2. Get a pedicure. (Hey, it’s important to have clean and polished feet to present to your fellow yogis. Plus, it helps to keep your mat fresh.)
  3. Bathe my mat. (It’s kind of like a clean sheet thing–it just feels good and it’s healthy, for you and your mat.)
  4. Buy tea tree oil and a spray bottle. (A tea tree oil and water concoction will be sprayed on my mat after each use; it’s a green and friendly solution to keeping your mat fresh.)
  5. Pack a clean change of yoga clothes and towel in my car for spur-of-the-moment decisions to go to the yoga studio.

To remain motivated:

  1. Let as many people know your intention to complete the challenge.
    The more people who know, the more people will be asking you every day, “So, how many days are left?” You don’t want to answer, “Oh, I quit.” Do you?
  2. Get a challenge buddy (or 2 or 3).
    This can be done directly or indirectly. If you are new or simply don’t have friends at the studio, pick someone’s name off the board and follow/stalk his/her progress. It’s definitely psychological but effective.
  3. Don’t neglect your family.
    If you are married, in a partnership, or have children, they’re probably your biggest supporters. So, even when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed by the yoga, do things with and for your family. They’ll be more inclined to maintain their support throughout the 30 days. And remember to say, “Thank you, Baby, for respecting how much this means to me.”
  4. Keep talking about how the challenge is making you feel.
    Even if you feel like crap some days, share it. You would be surprised by how many people will tell you, “Well, just don’t stop. You’re so close.”
  5. Be lazy, eat right, drink lots of water, and sleep when you can.
    Do I need to explain this one? :)
  6. Encourage other yogis in the challenge.
    Through encouraging others, you encourage yourself and the entire room.
  7. Keep smiling.

Namaste!
~Paula

© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and A Yogini Transformed.


Paula Carrasquillo is an active yogi, author, and advocate who has lived in numerous watersheds throughout the United States, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Paula is passionate about her family, friends and the motivational and brave people she meets daily through her online writing and social media exchanges. To Paula, every person, place, thing, idea and feeling she encounters is significant and meaningful, even those which she most wants to forget. Follow Paula on Twitter and check out her other blog.

The Problems with Bikram Yoga from a Lover of Bikram Yoga

Yoga Sparkle from Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

I began my yoga transformation on October 14, 2011. I didn’t know it was going to be a transformation; I was just looking to avoid knee surgery for a right knee injury that had been causing me great pain for nearly 9 years following a nasty car accident in 2002.

My intro to yoga was at a Bikram Yoga studio. (Not a hot yoga class offered at your corner yoga studio, but at an “official” Bikram certified studio with instructors who participated in the grueling 9-week intensive teacher training.)

I hate the heat and the humidity, so the idea of entering a 102-degree temp room with humidity added was not exactly appealing to me. But testimony after testimony that I read online gave me the strength to temporarily suspend that hate.

I won’t bore you with the details of my first experience but will tell you that within 5 consecutive practices, I was hooked and my knee pain had miraculously disappeared!

I could explain it away and say it was due to finally breaking up some scar tissue with a more effective exercise outside of walking, speed walking or elliptical training. I could claim it was just the heat. I could claim I hadn’t worked hard enough up until that point in my physical therapy. Sure. I could take the skeptical stance and say it was something other than the actual sequence, the holistic aspect of everything about Bikram yoga, that “fixed” me.

But I am not a skeptic…at least not any more. I truly believe Bikram yoga healed me, and I will be eternally grateful to my amazing instructors who brought and continue to bring it to me.

With that said, I must admit that Bikram yoga is not the end all and be all of yoga styles…not even close! I have a few complaints, let’s say, about Bikram yoga which explains why I have ventured out of my yoga comfort zone to become a yoga instructor of a yoga style other than Bikram.

1. There is no chance of being lulled into deep meditation in Bikram yoga, because there is no chanting or music in Bikram.

The absence of music might be seen as a good thing to anyone who suspects yoga is a religion or filled with “shining, happy people” oblivious to reality. When you enter a Bikram studio, don’t expect to be bombarded by Zen music in the practice room or by chimes or gongs or bells. Bikram yoga isn’t “pretty” yoga. It’s as serious as yoga can get without being serious yoga, if that makes any kind of sense. Even if you do get hooked on Bikram yoga, there will surely come a time you’ll want to venture out into the world of “pretty” yoga to experience the peace of a low-humming group “OM” to bring stillness. Bikram gives you stillness but not with music, and don’t we all love music on occasion?

2. There is no chance you’ll ever say, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to take a quick Bikram class.”

After spending 90 minutes in a sticky, hot room with a bunch of other sticky, hot AND smelly folks, you’ll definitely need and want to take an immediate shower, wash your hair and dump your clothes into the washing machine. There is nothing worse than tossing your just-used Bikram gear (towels, pants, top, etc.) into the backseat or at the bottom of your landing and tripping over them the next day. Why? Because you’ll pass out from the rancid odor and need smelling salts to be revived! Your olfactory will be screaming “Oh, f#@&!” I guarantee. I don’t even like sitting down on the seats of my car after a class without laying down a dry towel first. The drive to my home is less that 5 minutes, but the dry towel is nearly soaked through by the time I reach my front door.

3. There is no chance of building your upper body from a Bikram yoga practice, but your ass will be fabulous!

Unlike a Vinyasa flow or any class where you are doing up dogs and down dogs and planks, there ain’t nothing like that in Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga tends to focus more on lower body strength and balance and flexibility in your upper and lower back. The anti-arthritic grip used repeatedly throughout the series is great. But none of the postures will build your shoulder or bicep muscles. How can I be certain of that considering I am relatively new to yoga? Well, I had been practicing nothing but Bikram yoga for 12 months straight. Then I accidentally stumbled into an advanced Vinyasa flow class one Saturday morning. After 90 minutes of planks and dogs and crow poses and pigeons, I couldn’t raise my arms for three days. Yes. Three days. Although I had been actively participating in Bikram classes 3-4 times a week, nothing prepared me for the intense workout my arms and shoulders received that fateful Saturday.

Regardless of these few complaints, I recommend that everyone try Bikram yoga at least once. And if you’re a Bikram yoga fanatic like me, consider supplementing your practice with different yoga styles every now and then. Your arms will thank you.

Namaste!
~Paula

© 2013 Paula Carrasquillo and A Yogini Transformed.


Paula Carrasquillo is an active yogi, author, and advocate who has lived in numerous watersheds throughout the United States, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Paula is passionate about her family, friends and the motivational and brave people she meets daily through her online writing and social media exchanges. To Paula, every person, place, thing, idea and feeling she encounters is significant and meaningful, even those which she most wants to forget. Follow Paula on Twitterand check out her other blog.

%d bloggers like this: