“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. All the classes are for beginners, but just getting through the heat definitely takes some kind of strength of character — or in my case, absolute end-of-the-rope desperation — to get through.
The poses are challenging, but to their credit, they’re only as challenging as one decides to make them. They’re beginner level or advanced level — all the same poses — just depending on how hard you elect to 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 vacation — being forced to get through that heat, to truly listen to the instructors because they rarely show — made me not think about cancer. What a relief! As treacherous those 90 minutes were, they were also a refuge. A respite from contemplating about the myriad decisions I needed to make and from contemplating my grim situation. I’m not so good at meditation, at the time worse than ever at it, so the classes forced me into laser focus!
In those 90 minutes, body, mind, and soul were simultaneously pummeled and sweat purified into submission. As my body became strong, balanced, flexible, and focused, so did my mind and spirit.
“Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class,” by Bikram Choudhury with the help of Bonnie Jones Reynolds, helped speed the process.
It’s just the best! Everything one could want in such a book! Without wasting a lot of ink, paper, and the reader’s time, it engages, explains the background and because. Then it gets to the 26 poses, each with their own succinct background and because. Those magical 26 poses! Designed to address every single part of the body, “head to toes, bones to skin,” as Bikram extols.
There’s a lot of pictures for each pose, some modeled by people who were known by most everyone back in the 1970s. Picture Dick of the Smothers Brothers in what was then referred to as a ‘European style bathing suit,’ doing yoga before everyone was a yogi.
Thank goodness for the non-celebs in it too. They illustrate how women and men, oldsters and youngsters, huge and petite, can all do this yoga! Simple, direct, straightforward, and best of all, inspiring.
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.