“These people are nuts,” I thought when I first heard about Bikram yoga.
Little did I know…
That I’d be doing it myself a couple of years later — desperate for anything that would make me feel like I was living rather than dying.
Cancer. That’s what drove me to try anything — even Bikram! I’d found a lump, had it biopsied, had gotten the terrible news, and now, several days later, cancer was all I could think of. Day and night? Night and day? 24/7? Hell no. More like 48/7.
Bikram is tough — the heat, the poses, everything. All classes are considered beginner level, but just getting through the heat definitely takes extra strength — or in my case, absolute end-of-the-rope desperation — to get through.
The poses are challenging, but to Bikram’s credit, they’re only as challenging as one makes them. What matters is how hard you push yourself.
I pushed myself as if my life depended on those poses, because they did. My mental health decimated by cancer, Bikram made me focus. Each 90-minute class was a mental vacation — being forced to get through that heat, to truly listen to instructors, since they don’t demonstrate poses — made me not think about cancer. What a relief! As treacherous those 90 minutes were, they were also a refuge. A respite from contemplating the myriad decisions I needed to make for my grim situation. I’m not great at meditation, but the classes taught me laser focus!
In an hour and a half, my body, my mind, and my soul were pummeled. Sweat rained out of me. As my body became strong, balanced, flexible, and focused, so did the rest of me.
“Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class,” the book Bikram Choudhury published with the help of Bonnie Jones Reynolds, helped speed the process.
It’s everything one could need from such a book! Without wasting a lot of ink, paper, and the reader’s time, it starts with how Bikram put together his workout. Then explains the do’s and don’ts of the 26-pose routine he designed to address every part of the body. In his words, the sequence heals one “head to toes, bones to skin.”
Photos abound to thoroughly demonstrate poses, some modeled by 1970s celebrities, such as Dick of the Smothers Brothers in his Speedos.
Thank goodness for the non-celebs in it, too. They illustrate how women and men, oldsters and youngsters, huge and petite, can do this yoga! Simple, direct, straightforward, and best of all, inspiring and effective.
All yogas have benefitted me more than no yogas. Here’s the great friendly place I currently attend that even offers a free class a month.
What’s worked best for you to stay mentally and physically fit?