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!
On Thursday Jan 31 I had the joy of delivering my new baby daughter into the world, my third child. I'd like to give many thanks and much gratitude to Lyndsay, Morgan, Megan and all the staff at Bikram Yoga Calgary South for all the support and encouragement they have given over the past 9 months. I can honestly say that thanks to consistent Bikram Yoga through out my pregnancy - my last class was 4 days before delivering - my labour and delivery were much better than my last two pregnancies. The same night I delivered I was up walking around, and moving with much less difficulty and discomfort than i had previously. Two days after delivery I felt a thousand times better than last time as well. No shakiness, or extreme fatigue like I experienced before. I really feel great!!
Eleven days after having my baby, I tried on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans. AND I AM WEARING THEM!!! A little snug, but no tears!! Needless to say, this was not my experience with my last two pregnancies! The last two times it took months before I was in pre-pregnancy jeans. I may still have a way to go before I am as fit as I was working towards before pregnancy, but with the foundation I set with Bikram Yoga Calgary South in the months before and during my pregnancy, I know I am on the right path to complete health!
I can't wait to get back to regular practice, but will be treasuring this time with my new daughter and growing family for the next few weeks.
Liz Dearborn (and baby Georgia)
Katie van Sluys
To the great instructors at Bikram Yoga Calgary South
Several times I have wanted to sit down and write a thank you note to the instructors at Bikram Yoga Calgary South. So many of you have helped me on my journey and I regret that I never took the time to thank each and everyone of you. Some instructors that inspired me when I first started have moved on and so I want to make sure that all the folks that are there now know how much I appreciate all that you do.
I came to Bikram with my husband and my best friend a few years ago. I came to Bikram with back pain that chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage could not touch. To be honest I came to Bikram with an ego, but also stubborn determination.
Our journey started when we brought our first valentines day gift to each other from Bikram Yoga Calgary South. We bought two 20 pass cards ... before we had even walked into the hot steamy room and tried our first class! I sat down a lot that first class and together we shared a few eye rolls at the back of the room. Afterwards we sat in the car and made a pact to “at least finish off the 40 classes”. We finished them, then we did a 30 day challenge and last Feb we purchased our 4th valentines day gift from the studio! The Bikram practice has changed both of our lives.
The family of instructors at the studio have all helped me. You have all taught me to love and respect the practice. You use the same words, in the same room, in the same heat, but surprisingly you have each helped me in different ways. I have been inspired and empowered, I’ve been defeated and then strengthened and in all honesty I have also at times been angry and frustrated.
Each class is different for me and and each class it seems I am faced with a new challenge and a new mountain to climb. But my back is better and my postures are stronger, my breath is calmer and I have come to love the heat.
Today I wanted to take a minute to thank a few individual instructors that have helped me recently ....
! To Morgan for always making me laugh in class and for letting me know it was
! okay that day I just lay there for 90 minutes and cried.
! To Lindsay for helping me realign to actually see me toes come over top of my
! head! Now I just need my chin to the shoulder.
! To Michelle for her smile through the tough postures and for pointing my foot in
! the right direction ... I am not sure why it sticks out like that.
! To Mike for trying to push me to that new place even when I wasn’t sure it is
! possible. It gave me strength when you thought I should try.
! To Ally for reminding me to put weight in my toes again and again ... and you will
! have to next class too I am sure.
! To Megan for reminding me where my ego belongs. For encouraging me to be
! okay with myself and my body where ever that may be each class. You gave me
! the gift of being able to ask for help.
! To Christina for seeing where my knee and toes should be and for trying again to
! point them in the right direction. I know they will get there one day.
Who will be there next class? Who will inspire me? Who will push me? Who will help me to heal and to become stronger? You all will and I thank you for that gift!
What the *#&!)! is a Japanese ham sandwich???!
Trust me, enough time in the hot room and you will figure it out. And when you do, you'll want no light and no air to penetrate your sandwich.
Everyone has a story, here's mine:
I was ecstatic to learn about Bikram Yoga Calgary South opening in 2009. I discovered Bikram years prior in Kelowna but never got really into it until I moved to Calgary. I knew there was "something" about this yoga that was different, but I never realized the impact it would have on my life. I have scoliosis - a two fold structural curve in my spine. I was diagnosed at age twelve with two choices, live with it or get a metal rod injected into my spine. A typical pre teen - I ignored it and hoped it went away. Twenty (ish) years later, I lived with constant pain, poor posture, and a disengaged manner of living.
When I practiced Bikram yoga, I could feel the muscles ache and my posture straighten but I never thought about the impact the yoga was having. I did, however take some pictures for the usual fitness challenge that couples embark on each year. My husband and I were going to become the next Jillan and Bob....
Well, then life and a new marriage muddled our plans. I still got to yoga though, as if my body craved it. I was the first person to sign up for a 30 Day challenge last year. My body ached in ways I never thought possible. My soul stretched in ways I wasn't ready for. At the end of thirty days, the sticker telling me I was done was the least of my accomplishment. I struggle with self esteem and confidence. I am working on my awful self body image, and battle eating issues all the time. So to commit to anything where you wear teeny weeny anythings in front of thirty strangers sweating all over you was a big step. But, we've all heard it: the hardest step is getting into class. By the end of the thirty days, I had no choice but to take care of my body properly. No choice but to leave my ego at the door. It was an amazing time that really clarified how important this yoga is for your health and well being.
In January, I admitted to Lyndsay that my practice needed to really be taken care of. "Oo eee" she said - check out the advanced series and competition training. I stood there, for what felt like hours. Someone! Someone ask me what I am doing! I could easily wiggle my way out of this with conversation. No one noticed. No one asked. Must be that darned Universe telling me something. That was a few months ago. Since then, my posture (inside and out of the room) feels stronger, not to mention my fear diminishes every class and I am learning to accept myself for all that I am. Unconditional love is an amazing thing and so is this yoga.
A few weeks ago, I took those same pictures again. No Jillian, but look at my spine closely. There is no photoshop, no editing. Just pure Bikram yoga. This practice will support and guide you in every direction your body needs. Today I live pain free, and couldnt be more engaged in my life.
If you can, you must............see you in the hot room!!!
At the recommendation of my friend, I enrolled in Bikram Yoga on January 10, 2010. As a former ballet dancer in my youth, I especially enjoy the discipline and structure of Bikram Yoga. “Bikram reminds me of the grace, elegance, determination, and strength of ballet, practiced outside of your comfort zone in the conditions of the deeply hot and humid room.”The biggest exterior change in my body appearance has been the shapeliness of my lower body. I went from a size 8 to a 2/4 in thirty days.” The awkward pose has positively changed my legs and hips forever.I fought insomnia for many years and now my sleep habits are deeper than ever. Practicing Bikram Yoga has made me acutely aware of my nutritional habits and now I eat and drink to support my body in this new consciousness of my life.More importantly my inner being has changed dramatically. I have a sense of peace and calm that I had somehow misplaced. My level of natural determination and persistence has been reborn I have an awakened awareness of my surroundings and an even greater appreciation for the small beautiful things in life.Bikram Yoga has nurtured my instinctive nature to stretch my personal limits while having variety and fun in life. I now recommend Bikram Yoga to all of my friends and acquaintances.
I began practicing yoga a little over three years ago to improve my mental and physical health and to see whether I might get some relief to my knee discomfort and pain (diagnosed originally as “Patella Femoral Syndrome”*) through yoga exercises. I first practiced yoga Ashtanga and more recently Bikram yoga. While practicing yoga Ashtanga I also regularly went to the gym and practiced my knees by “walking backwards” on the treadmill as recommended by my Sport Doctor. Yoga Ashtanga and treadmill exercises alleviated my knee problem to a certain degree. However, when I started Bikram yoga, in just as little as three months my knee pain and discomfort have been almost gone and I can now walk over five kilometres daily without my knee brace and what is also important, I manage my daily mental stress better. The yoga practice at Bikram Yoga Calgary South studio has enabled me to improve my general well- being. I recommend the flexibility, balance, and physical/mental awareness aspects of Bikram yoga to be an ideal training program for any person, young, mid-aged, male, female and of all ages or to anyone wishing to improve the quality of their physical and mental life. My personal experience also shows that it can also alleviate some forms of knee pain and discomfort. I will continue practicing Bikram Yoga as long as I can. It makes me feel good, healthy, active, positive, happy and, hopefully, will keep my knee problem at bay. It makes me feel warm inside and warm towards others. I breathe better, walk straighter and feel taller and with a sense of pride to be practicing yoga. I would like to thank all the wonderful teachers for guiding me on how to breathe, relax, how to 'quieten one’s mind' and how to hold oneself in and out focussed at all times. I would like to feel this way all my life and promise myself to continue learning and improving each posture and never give up and quit before mastering any given posture. I am grateful to Lindsay who told me that Bikram yoga was dedicated to those with knee problems and to those suffering from spine injuries and pains. “The 20 seconds treat during “Savasana” allows the yogini to just be."
John & Megan Adams
We started out 30 Day Challenge after 2 days into a 7 day intro to Bikram Yoga with no prior knowledge or yoga experience.
As athletes, many times we had heard how we should incorporate yoga into our healthy lifestyles. Honestly, knowing now what we do, we wish we had many years ago. We were challenged both physically and mentally and consider finishing out 30 Day Challenge a real accomplishment.
The support and encouragement from Lyndsay and all the instructors was awesome. There was praise when you needed it the most, and encouragement when you needed it more. We have noticed positive changes such as increased flexibility, weight loss, gained muscle tone as well as an increased general sense of well being. We are committed on making Bikram Yoga a part of our lives for many years to come.
We can't stop talking about the wonderful benefits to anyone that will listen to us.
Bikram calls his class rooms "torture chambers" and there are times where I totally agree! I really did not enjoy my first dozen or so classes. It took me that long just to learn to breathe properly! My friends kept asking why I was going if I wasn't any good at it and I didn't enjoy it ... the truth is ... my brain/ego hated the classes ... but my body seemed to love them.
I'm not a big fan of pain and for as long as I can remember I have had serious discomfort in my left elbow and shoulder (due to a childhood injury). I have tried all sorts of different therapies and treatments to get rid of the problem ... all with very limited and short lived success. After my very first Bikram Yoga session the pain in my shoulder eased considerably. To test if this was because of the yoga (and I sincerely hoped it wasn't) I didn't come back for a week. The pain returned after a couple of days and nothing seemed to help. So, I tried yoga again and again the pain went away. After about ten or so sessions the shoulder pain disappeared and has not returned. My elbow is taking longer but is much improved too.
As an added bonus ... since starting to regularly attend classes about 3 months ago I have dropped two dress sizes (without dieting)!
So just over a year ago, I tore my acl in my left knee playing ice hockey, and shortly afterward completely tore it playing floor hockey. I have always been into sports,and a bit of a gym rat since I was about 19. This injury took alot of my happiness from me as well as a lot of my physical abilities. When the fall came this year, still waiting on surgery and constantly reinjuring myself at the gym because I was training too hard I realized I really needed to find something to physically and mentally challenge myself because I was really really missing playing sports.
The first time I tried Bikram hot yoga I was hooked. It not only phsyically pushed my limits, but even more importantly it mentally challenged me more then any sport ever has.Every class is different, and if I am mentally not prepared I suffer through an hour and a half of hell. I know I have to bring my A game mentally and I will coast right on through. So wether a good class or a bad class, I feel fantatsic afterward. I have received so many physical benefits with only doing it twice a week for about two and a half months, my body has come leaps and bounds . I no longer have inflamation , and very little stiffness in injured knee/leg. I was having this daily... ranging to quite painful. I openly admit my posture and balance are terrible, I work as a dental assistant leaning all day and have been compensating with my stronger leg for over a year, so with each class I stand a little taller and straighter, and with each class I can hold by balance poses just a little longer. And it feels great. No more lower back pain from work, no more tendonitis in my right arm. I now look forward to walking into that warm hot room whenever I get a chance, and pushing myself as hard as I can tht day!!
Four months prior to my Bikram Yoga journey I was always tired, slightly overweight, constantly ill and very anxious. I craved carbs and ate terrible food all the time, I ignored engaging in any form of physical activity and I worried far too much for being a teenager.
At the end of March, nine days after my 18th birthday and 2 months before my high school graduation I left home to go live on my own. All my life I have been an independent spirit and when I started University in the fall of 2009 I was extremely excited to have the chance to play varsity hockey. During the middle of training camp and evaluations I acquired a lethal staph infection known as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Since I work part time at a communal pool as a lifeguard and swimming instructor I am exposed to various warm/humid environments where bacteria is known to fester and multiply. This MRSA superbug is resistant to certain types of antibiotics, if left untreated for too long it can enter the blood stream become septic and morph into a severe case of flesh eating disease... I dare you to google it.
The MRSA had found a nice place on my right knee to inhabit and looked like a tiny spider bite, I thought nothing of it until 48 hours later when my knee was extremely swollen and the size of a small apple. I was unable to walk and was in excruciating pain, I immediately made my way to an emergency room where I was told by the emerge doctor that if I had waited twelve more hours to get treatment they would have considered amputating my leg. Luckily they were able to get rid of most of it with minor surgery and a bout of IV antibiotics.
When I knew I wouldn't be able to play hockey that season it really did feel like someone had taken my leg. Hockey is such a huge part of my life and I was not used to having a winter without it. In many ways it is like an appendage to me and something that I needed to have in order to function. Hockey is such a natural and necessary component of my life and it broke my heart when I knew I would have to do without it for a season. From September to January I had become very depressed and suffered from classic symptoms like insomnia, anhedonia, fatigue, internal system imbalance and weight gain.
Over the course of 4 months between September and January, the MRSA had re-occurred four more times on different parts of my body. I had no idea what I was going to do. But in January 2010 my mother had started participating in Bikram yoga and suggested that I do the same. At first I was extremely reluctant and did not want to put myself in any more pain than I was already in; I was far too tired and depressed about not playing hockey, too stressed out about organizing my classes for next semester along with recovering from finals, too busy booking hours at work and trying to recover from this terrible MRSA infection. But since I was blessed with a warrior spirit like my mother, I ended up going to the studio and my first class was ruthless... somehow I lasted through the 90 minutes and when I left the hot room something inside of me changed. I was instantly addicted and went to 13 classes in my introductory week. I could not get enough, it replaced the part of my life where hockey used to be and the yoga made me feel like the kid I was when I first stepped onto the ice and discovered how to put play... I was back and finally feeling like myself again.
After a month and a half of hot yoga I visited the infectious disease clinic at the Foothills hospital where I was swabbed and tested for any existent MRSA, 2 weeks later I received a fantastic phone call with the results from my swabs and they were completely clean. The doctor was shocked, he could not believe that the infection had cleared after one month since my last occurrence. My doctor was so amazed and insisted that I return for another appointment... where once again I was swabbed, tested and free of any MRSA. It was the best 19th birthday present ever.
Before hot yoga I was on antibiotics almost everyday and entering the hot room saved my life. From being extremely depressed and almost losing my leg back in September 2009 to rocking out standing boat pose and sweating the MRSA infection out of my body in January 2010. I’ am pleased to say that with the help of everyone at Bikram Yoga Calgary South the practice of this yoga has made my mind stronger and rid my body of the many demons I had been battling against during the darkest time of my life... Thankyou to Bikram Choudhury for creating this yoga and helping me learn so much about myself. You restored my health and have helped my heart grow in so many ways.
So guys, would you rather suffer for 90 minutes or 90 years? See you in class...
I'll be at the front :)
HOPE THROUGH HEAT
My name is Ruben, and I would like to share my journey at Bikram Yoga Calgary South.
July 2010 my wife and I received bad news about her pregnancy. She had many complications, to the point that they wanted to terminate the pregnancy. To ease the stress, we started looking into prenatal yoga classes.
When we first came to Bikram Yoga, we realized it was quite different from the prenatal classes we'd had in mind. Since my wife had a high-risk pregnancy, we decided it was not the right time for her to start practising Bikram, but I tried a class, and it just felt right. I do not believe it was a coincidence I started practising. I know now life hands us situations, and it is up to us to make choices and find our own path.
In October 2010, I was blessed to become a father for the first time. Our baby boy was premature; he weighed only two pounds and was born with many complications. His first week of life was critical: he got an infection, had a blood transfusion, and underwent test after test. I just watched him in the incubator - I couldn't help but feel useless because there was nothing I could do to help my tiny son.
Not long after he was born, I started Kangaroo Care, a therapy that involved laying the baby on my chest, skin to skin, and wrapping my arms around him. This therapy allows the baby to feel warmth and protection, somewhat akin to being in the womb. One day we arrived at the intensive care unit in the hospital and our baby's skin was grey. I wanted to do Kangaroo care right away. I was cautioned that if the baby's temperature dropped at all, I would have to put him back in the incubator immediately.
His temperature did not drop; after three hours of Kangaroo Care, his skin colour became rosy. The nurse told me I was a human incubator, and I have Bikram Yoga to thank for that.
Every day, until our baby was released from hospital, I would go to Bikram Yoga and set my mat in the back corner to get my body as hot as possible. I would dedicate the class to my son, work hard and then
go to the hospital and do Kangaroo Care for hours.
The baby was released from intensive care six weeks later; his weight was only three-and-a-half pounds, but he was strong enough to leave the hospital.
Through this journey, I saw my life change from being an oil worker to becoming a human incubator. I want to thank all the instructors at Bikram Calgary South from the bottom of my heart for their support, guidance and inspiration. And, to my fellow practitioners, never give up: stick with Bikram Yoga; it is a disciplinary art that will change your life in a conscious or subconscious way.