I started practicing Bikram about 5 years ago when my best friend from high school (an avid yogi) asked me to come to a class with her. I’ve always been a competitive person, so I was up for the challenge. Although the room was hotter than I ever could have imagined, I made it through my first class and felt amazing and so accomplished when it was over. I was immediately excited to try the poses again and see how I’d progress with practice.
I think the most challenging thing was all the balancing on one leg. It took me several years to be able to hold Standing Bow Pulling Pose, but I’m finally at the point where I can usually hold it the entire time! Another challenge was listening to my body and respecting its limits. When I pick up a new hobby, I’m usually a little overzealous in terms of wanting to master it right away. Bikram yoga taught me to have patience with my body and to respect what it was capable of each day, one day at a time.
I started strength training and carefully tracking my macros (grams of carbs, fat, and protein) each meal about two years ago when I took up the sport of bodybuilding. Previously, I had always been a runner, and used to run several half marathons each year. I even ran the Boston Marathon once! But I’m pretty sure my marathon days are over now 🙂 I lift heavy weights 5 times a week and do cardio anywhere from 2-6 times a week depending on how close I am to a bodybuilding competition. My time in the gym is so therapeutic, and I love the pump I get after a good lift. Bikram yoga, however, has become a staple in my training, and ideally I practice at least 2 times a week. There are so many benefits of Bikram yoga, particularly as a compliment to my strength training. To name a few…
– Most importantly, the community of people I’ve met through practicing at Bikram Yoga Natick is by far the greatest benefit. I feel welcomed and appreciated every time I enter the studio, and knowing that I have a supportive group of individuals to share the hot room with whenever I want is the greatest gift.
I could probably go on and on! I just feel it’s the perfect counter-balance to strength training in the gym. But to summarize, Bikram yoga is an asset for competitors like me because it helps with finding the mental and physical balance necessary to compete in a fairly extreme sport. The moving meditation aspect of Bikram yoga helps to maintain a clear head in the midst of such an intense training and diet program. The stretching helps to elongate muscles that can easily get tight while training. And the mirrors allow competitors to assess their overall balance and muscular symmetry, as this is an important judging criteria in bodybuilding.
It is so much more than a yoga class or workout! It’s a practice that allows one to cultivate a life-perspective that will help to manage and even benefit from the discomfort and difficulty we all encounter in our day to day lives. Persevering through a 90 minute, 105 degree yoga class is no easy feat. But if you can do that, dealing with difficulty outside of the hot room becomes so much more manageable. It’s a mentality of accepting and even embracing struggle, and trusting that with patience and deep breaths we can overcome any obstacle.