Yoga in its various forms has been part of my life for more than a decade; yet discovering Bikram Yoga has been like finding the love of my life - a perfect match. Flexibility, strength, balance, cardiovascular stamina, healing of injuries and mental serenity all in a single package.
Taking a ‘Challenge’ is a great way to accelerate the benefits of Bikram Yoga and glimpse the possibilities ahead of you through regular practice. A challenge provides focus in a supportive and encouraging environment, making you accountable without being competitive. For me Bikram Yoga is an ideal antidote to a society valuing instant gratification, where it is all too easy to become over-committed and stressed. Bikram requires patience and persistence but the rewards can be far-reaching and enduring. I also believe that it fosters inner confidence, tolerance and an appreciation of your own body’s abilities, regardless of appearance.
My primary goal starting Bikram Yoga was to increase strength and flexibility in my lower back, which following an injury many years ago had remained vulnerable. Not only have I felt the stabilization and repair of my back, but numerous other health benefits have emerged (some of them quite unexpected!)
Here are my top 10:
- A stronger immune system
- Deeper, more restorative sleep
- More energy
- Better balance (literally and figuratively!)
- Increased muscle tone
- A decrease in pre-menstrual symptoms
- Clearer skin
- Elevated mood
- Improved concentration
- Stronger more satisfying orgasms
So if you catch me smiling in Eagle Pose as I wobble inelegantly - I have probably just remembered that the pay-offs are worth it!!
I have been practicing bikram yoga for 11 months now. I initially started to encourage my husband to join as he had a smashed knee cap and his left leg had seriously wasted away with little muscle strength or full movement. I had read about bikram in the paper and it explained how the heat encouraged muscle flexibility and that over time it could assist in the healing process of previous injuries. Living with someone in continual pain can be a struggle for both parties, so on january 6th 2012 the two of us started coming to bikram. We paid our $20 and if my memory is correct i think we came to 9 classes in the first 10 days.
I remember the instructor saying: “one day you will see your foot come over your head, put your forhead on the floor” and thinking that will never happen, or maybe the foot of the person behind me“. But no matter how many times during class I declared “this will be the last”, after I had my shower and recovered, i always felt amazing and couldn’t wait to go again.
Slowly the postures started to make sense . I remember the day I finally felt my balancing leg was “locked” and the day my forehead did touch the floor. I still fall out of bow and my foot is almost over my head, but I now know that with time and patience it will happen one day. But more importantly than any of this , was the ability to see the improvement to my husband’s wellbeing. His left leg strength is almost completely restored, he can surf, ride his bike and his engery levels and positive attitude have returned.
I have done the 4 by 4 three times this year, and it is a good method of being accountable , seeing your attendance on the board and realizing that you are being committed. My cloths are too big, my body shape has changed and i am stronger and fitter than i have ever been
My only regret is that we didn’t start sooner.
I’ve just completed my April 4 x a week challenge, and it feels great – although my last one was probably one of the hardest I have done! Not really sure why, I guess you just get days like that. The challenge has been great for my flexibility, especially if I can manage to go 3 times in a row, I really notice the difference especially in stretching exercises such as standing head to knee!
As always, whenever I go to a Bikram class I always seem to learn something new, even if it is very small, that helps me in my next session.
I have been coming regularly to BYSB since September last year, and I always look forward to that great feeling you get AFTER leaving the class (not such much before or during!!!)...invigorated, energised, healthy, centred..
Keep on doing what you guys do, and I look forward to the next challenge!!
I came along to my first Bikram Yoga session on a Monday night in April 2012 without a clue what to expect, other than it was going to be HOT! I was determined not to stop as I struggled my way through the 90 mins of torture, I loved it and I walked out knowing that Bikram Yoga would always be in my life.
I can’t believe how fit and healthy I feel, I never thought of doing Yoga - running and being in the Gym have always been ‘my thing’ Yoga always seemed too slow and sedate for me. Well how wrong I was! I have suffered back pain all my adult life due to Scoliosis but since practicing Bikram Yoga I haven’t had a day’s pain, it’s amazing!! I have a much healthier lifestyle now and I am much calmer and happier and so appreciative of what I have, a healthy body that enables me to practice whenever I want.
I would like to say a big Thank You to Stu and all the Instructors and Staff at BYSB for all your guidance and happy smiling faces, you make it such a wonderful place to practice.
It was quite a physical and emotional journey for me. I had two professional exams to write in the month of November and I had to make the difficult choice of whether to pass on the 4 x 4 challenge and study for my exams or take a gamble literally and do the 4x 4 while preparing and writting my exams.
On any other day, I would have just put yoga on hold for the month and prepared for my exams, but I trusted my gut, I had read somewhere where it said “yoga does not steal your time, but instead adds to your time”.
To cut the long story short I passed my exams and I give credit to the hours I spent at the studio. Doing Yoga reduced my stress levels, reduced my dependence on anthestamines as I take these for hayfever, the more I do yoga the less I get hayfever.
We all do yoga for different reasons, my main reason is to sharpen my mind, yoga has helped me to stay calm under pressure and surprsingly has improved my speech, I have become more eloquent surprisingly.
I have no scientific basis for what I have said above but all I know is that yoga has helped me prepare for and pass my exams, yoga gets rid of my hayfever and yoga has improved my speech.
NB: In hindsight I think of my university days when we went through all the stresses of writting exams and essays. I know it would be hard to prove, but I can safely say, college students can improve their assessment outcomes by doing yoga. A bold assertion indeed, but I will continue to do be a yogie!
Sikhumbuzo (Marcus) Ncube
I’ve just completed the April challenge, taking my 4th class in the fourth week this morning with Ocean, and I am feeling really fantastic! I was just finishing my introductory 10-day pass when the challenge started and I believe that committing to take class at least 4x/week as a new student really helped me establish a solid foundation for my practice. I’ve noticed a significant increase in both strength and flexibility over the course of the challenge and am even starting to see old injuries, from years of competitive athletics, start to heal.
I’ve had 3 surgeries on the same knee so fixed-fern pose seemed out of the question for me; however, after consistent practice this month, inch by inch, I can now do it. More importantly though is that the constant knee pain I had grown accustomed to living with each day has dramatically decreased. However, the best part of the April challenge, by far, has been carving out some long overdue “me” time and committing to that time each week. As a result I think I am more patient and calm with my husband and twin 3-year olds, and that is something that definitely benefits the entire family!
A big thank you to you and all the instructors at BYSB who have taken the time to answer questions, demonstrate postures, encourage and joyfully guide us all through our practice and this challenge.