My Journey – Bikram Style Yoga After 35 years of accumulation of knowledge: information sought after, freely given or hard-earned…how did I end up in that hot room? There on my door was a coupon for a Bikram introductory class. So it began… It is funny, your first class; you wear too much, come unprepared for what is in store, are shocked by the instructors and how fit and barely dressed they are! Then you work harder than you have ever worked doing anything athletic and nearly faint. Although you feel as though you have been tortured for 90 minutes, you find yourself—without really understanding it—back in that hot room the next day and the day after that. Three years later, I am a devout Bikram Style Hot Yoga practitioner, preacher and worshiper. My two last vertebrae are fused together, condition I was born with, and this condition limited my swim strokes and meant I had to find other comparable ones. My inability to bend or stretch limited my ability to perform postures in gymnastics and ballet as a child, limited my capability to become anything beyond a recreational dancer or gymnast. During my school years, I was on many sports teams and learned to live with my condition knowing that I would never be able to touch my toes. Touching my toes seems such a simple thing, but trying to do so anyway was a constant struggle and my inability to manage this simple act meant I was always disappointed in myself. I first noticed a great difference in my flexibility a few months in. What I had conceded to be impossible was suddenly possible–I can touch my toes! I locked my knee! How? This amazed me…I was so happy that Bikram’s promise was true: Bikram promises that with continued practice, what ails you will be cured. This gave me great confidence. During my second year, I resolved to run a marathon. Running took up a lot of time, but I enjoyed the support of my loving and understanding husband and children. And now I was asking to add another time consumer. My running training research advised me to add stretching, and, I signed up and trained to run and practice Bikram yoga. I found I was happier with a general feeling of wellbeing. I have now run two marathons, three ½ marathons, one 10k and a 5 km run. Running has taken a back seat though to my love of yoga. Yoga made me a better runner, but it is now my staple.
I was inspired by the owners and the instructors to learn how they grew to be who they are and although I am not very “bendy”, I wanted to further my practice and see how I could push myself even further, so I signed up to be part of the first Hatha yoga competition. I was intimidated with the company I kept as they were all so incredibly flexible and talented. I watched them perform amazing postures and so much wanted to be like them–I was Inspired! The team welcomed me and we supported each other no matter how flexible each of us were. We only wanted the best for each other and for all of us to be our best selves. I practiced and learned far more about myself and my body than simply being bendy. I gained confidence, made lifelong friends, was part of the studio’s history. I am humbled and have learned to love myself as is, and love my potential of so much more. I found my highest self. (The highest in me, to the highest in you) At the competition, I was brave—my courage boiled up from within and I did my postures to the best of my ability and was judged on that. Not on how I did not look like everyone else. One of the judges came in the back before our demonstration and said, “Remember, everyone here watching is here for you and only wants you to succeed.” What a powerful statement: and it affirmed to me that I was respected, supported and included. Being part of the competition group and being guided by the instructors will forever be a cherished place from which I grew from being who I was to who I am today. Some days, practicing still feel like my first day; other days I go farther into posture than I have ever been. I continue to challenge the Bikram postures knowing each day is different: I learn and hear what I need to, at that moment in the hot room. For me, the benefits of performing hot yoga extend far beyond the studio doors. The world gets a better me as do I!
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