Why Bikram Yoga? I was bored of my usual weights and cardio exercise. It seemed as if everything I did in life was fast paced and I wanted to slow down and try something different. I wanted to find a form of exercise which would allow me to escape for a few hours – no phones, no watch, no music – just me. I had read about the benefits of Bikram yoga and it seemed to fit the bill. The 30 day introductory offer for £30 seemed a bargain and it was easy to create an account online and book / change classes and so one evening I set up my account and booked in for my first 90 minute session.
On the day of my first class I arrived at the studio about 20 minutes before class to fill in some forms and familiarise myself with the surroundings. I was nervous. Although I was a regular gym goer (4 times a week) I had heard that Bikram was hard – a torture chamber of stretches in extreme heat and I was worried about not actually being able to do it and looking like a fool in front of a wall of mirrors. Zana was due to teach my first class and she greeted me with a reassuring smile and explained where everything was and what position I needed to get into before class. I went into the female changing rooms and the first thing I noticed were the communal showers which I put to the back on my mind to deal with after my 90 minutes!
As it was my first class I thought I would try and get used to the heat before the start and so I set up my mat and towel at the back of the room and lay down. First impressions? It’s hot, really really hot. As I stood up at the start of class lots of seeds of doubt washed over me…. Is this really for me? Am I ‘zen’ enough for yoga? How can I cope with this heat for 90 minutes and how can I look at myself in the mirror for 90 minutes straight! Class started with a breathing exercise and straight away I realised that this was time for me and as I focused on my own eyes in the mirror oddly all the other members of class faded away. I soon realised no one was watching me or judging me – I was there to try something new with an open mind.
I’ll be honest the first class felt like it dragged a bit and I think that’s because I was typically used to high intensity workouts for a short period of time and this was totally different. I was exhausted after class, both physically and mentally – I had tried to stretch my body into positions I never thought possible and the concentration that required was draining. I can honestly say it was one of the toughest workouts that I’d ever done. I desperately needed a shower after class and so ventured into the female communal showers with dread but as in class there’s just an acceptance of everyone and there’s no sense that anyone is looking at you or judging you – truth be told I found the experience quite liberating and empowering. That night I slept soundly and the next morning my muscles ached – it was as though I had done a tough weights session at the gym which surprised me. Mentally I felt calmer and I knew I would back.
I have been to 19 classes over 30 days and have been taught by Vicki, Zana, Bethany and Kirsty. They are all wonderful and have great energy which keeps you going through the class which I’ve found novel as with gym classes in the past I could never find a class where all the teachers were of the same high standard – well I have here! The strange thing about yoga is no two classes are the same for you as an individual: you may be able to do one posture one class and not be able to get the same balance or depth in class the next day – we are told to do the best with the body you have today which is so true and it’s a fantastic mantra for life!
Many of you will want to know whether my 30 days of yoga had an impact on me. The answer is yes… a big one. Physically I feel more toned and can complete more press ups now than I could when I was doing weights / cardio programs. In terms of weight loss - I have lost 4 pounds and 3 inches and this has been from not changing my diet or doing any other exercise other than yoga in the last 30 days. The biggest difference for me has been psychological. I can look myself in the mirror for a whole 90 minutes and not dread it. I feel more comfortable in my own skin and accepting of myself. I have always been a positive person but I now worry less about what others think or may think of me and I let negative energy wash over me far more easily and quickly than I did before I started. I am sleeping better, have more energy, greater concentration, and I am told by others that I have a glow about me.
Should you try Bikram yoga? Most definitely yes! I cannot recommend it highly enough and have already recruited my husband who has been to 3 sessions and already can see why I love it so much! One thing to keep in mind is that it takes time and patience – yoga is not something to embark on for a quick fix. It’s also important to remember that you probably will not actually enjoy being in class until about week 3 – be patient and stick with it until then. I would predict that real results physically and mentally happen around the 6 month mark.
As for me, I have signed up for membership at Bikram Yoga Leeds and I hope that this 30 days marks the start of a new chapter for me and continued development both physically and psychologically.