February 7, 2012

10-day Bikram Challenge: Day 1

I've done Bikram in the past and have always enjoyed it. It's a demanding workout and yet, you get the extra benefits of yoga (a breathing practice, some relaxation at the end, stretching). For some reason, I've been struggling with returning to my yoga practice, so when I saw that a new local Bikram studio had opened, I figured the answer was clear.

I'm amused at how different Bikram is from other forms of yoga. The copyright, the trademark, the owner control, the strict adherence to the timeline of 26 poses at a specific heat and humidity, the lawsuits against former instructors who try to go off on their own and modify the style, and, of course, the World Yoga Championship. I've read and heard many practitioners of more traditional yoga styles complain and speak poorly of Bikram.

But, for me, I have nothing bad to say -- it was a great gateway into yoga when I started my practice. It was much more like the sports I'd grown up with than traditional yoga, because the physical demands and the discipline are front and center as opposed to spirituality. Since I'm having such a hard time motivating to get back to a regular more traditional yoga practice, I figured if Bikram worked once, perhaps it would work again.

So, Yesterday, I started a 10-day Bikram Challenge. The deal I made with myself is that I have to show up for a class every day for 10 days.


I've never gone to a Bikram studio this hardcore. The owner was the 2007 World Yoga Champion. She ran an amazing class yesterday and managed to motivate me to stay for the entire 90 minutes despite needing to kneel or lie down to opt out of at least 15% of the poses. The packed room often hit 108F. No one left. We all struggled through as best we could.

I now know why Bikram refers to his studios as "torture chambers."

I'm excited about this challenge. Yesterday's class showed me that I definitely haven't been pushing myself as much as I could physically. I pride myself on not getting injured and listening to my body. What yesterday's class showed me is that I definitely err far on the side of comfort when it comes to athletics. Showing up to struggle for 90 minutes on a daily basis is going to be great for me: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Today, I'm a bit sore, but ready to return.

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