Autobiography of a Bikram Yoga Student:
Pic: David’s brilliant demo of Camel Pose!
Lifestyle: Running, Biking, hiking, gardening…
The reason I started Yoga: I have always been active but in March 2013 I started having severe pain in my muscles and joints, especially the lower back. It hurt all the time with nights and mornings being the worst.
In June 2013 I was diagnosed with AS (Ankylosing Spondylitis) and was told
to stay active and yoga would help. In the beginning, I was not able to get into most of the poses and the pain was a constant companion. After coming to Bikram Yoga for a little over 3 months, my pain went from constant, to disappearing while in class, to being pain free for a couple hours after class to no pain during the night after I do yoga.
My Goal: I had stopped running in March when the pain started and was able to restart my running the first part of September. I am currently running only half of what I did last Spring at a slower pace but I am running! I have hope that I will be able to get back to where I was last Spring with minimal discomfort and to be able to go through large portions of my day without pain.
Work: Recently “retired” from a 9-year career in newspaper editing to become a homemaker and stay-at-home mom.
Yoga story: After my husband, Chris, got hooked on Bikram yoga at the free class in December 2009, I dropped him off at the studio each Saturday and drove myself to the gym for an hour on the stationary recumbent bike (a winter alternative to road cycling). It didn’t take long for me to recognize that his workout was superior to mine, but it wasn’t until March 2010 that I warmed up to the idea of the heated room. My first Bikram class left me exhausted and drenched, but intrigued. After my second class, I was hooked, too. I was astonished at what a tremendous whole-body workout I could get in a 6-by-6-foot space, and it was the only form of exercise I’d encountered where my muscles felt better when I was done instead of sore or tight. My flexibility improved dramatically and I became more attuned to my body, and the yoga also helped to level out my moods. A year into my practice I completed a 60-day challenge. When I became pregnant near the start of 2013, I didn’t want to give up the yoga so I bought a DVD of Rajashree’s Pregnancy Yoga to practice at home during the first trimester. I made a return to the hot room when I reached 13 weeks, but my body temperature rose to a degree that concerned my doctor. So I continued my home practice, doing my yoga about 3 times a week, interspersed with swimming and walking. The yoga has warded off calf cramps, a common complaint during pregnancy, and it is keeping my hips flexible. My OB assures me that staying active and exercising regularly, especially doing yoga, will make for an easier labor. And baby girl seems to enjoy the workouts, as I often feel her stretching and moving along with me! I do miss the heat, though, and look forward to returning to the studio this winter.
Pics: Eileen demonstrates her strength, flexibility in ‘Standing Separate Leg Forehead to Knee Posture’ (left). Gorgeous Eileen (Right).
Age: of the ‘Baby Boomers’
Work: Public Health Nurse
In my regular world, I work as a public health nurse, play with children, pull weeds in my garden and enjoy cooking. Other ways that I spend my time are reading books, bicycling, doing Pilates or playing with my grandchildren. I am a baby boomer and have gradually acquired stiffness and some pain in my muscles and joints. I notice it most when getting out of bed. Daily activities include; leaning forward at a desk, driving, gardening, carrying bags and children. These activities have all contributed to feeling less mobile.
I find Bikram Yoga greatly relieves the tightness and pain in my shoulders and back. With helpful guidance from the instructors, I breathe, stretch, sweat and move more deeply into postures to relieve whatever tightness there was. This is a moving meditation that calms me. Focusing on my breathing~ something any of us can do~I come to that quiet place within me. I find myself smiling when in a posture and thinking: “Dang! This is good for me.” -Eileen
Work: Nanny, Aspiring Bikram Yoga Teacher
I have been practicing vinyasa yoga for 7 years and Bikram yoga for 4 months. Everything clicks when I am in a yoga studio. I have used yoga to get through life’s challenges. All the stress and anxiety of the day, week, or month just melts away. It’s the only time I can get me out of my head. I took my first Bikram class in California with my cousin. I was hesitant at first, but went anyway. I powered through class and when it was over I walked out and said “I’ve got to do this again!” I looked up studios near me and found BYOC. I came as soon as I got back into town and have been a regular ever since. Bikram yoga is my true passion and I want to become a bikram instructor. I come to every class possible! I even changed jobs, so I can attend more classes! A yoga instructor once said a quote “blessed are the flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape.” Whenever I am having a rough day I always say this to myself.
Yoga Story: In 2010 I decided to make some changes to my life, including getting in shape. Once I discovered running, and then discovered running is horrible, a friend (Thanks Kay!) encouraged me to come give Bikram a try – and I’ve been hooked ever since. It reminds me of football daily double practices, where you finish up and you’re spent, but you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. The difference is that I know I’ve actually been engaged in healing, instead of breaking things a little more. My strength, flexibility, and balance have all increased tremendously. I’m in better shape, and more importantly I feel better at 43 than I have at any point in the last 15 years. While my schedule only allows about 2 times a week, I look forward to those sessions – even the 6 am ones. It’s intensity, it’s relaxation, and it’s the chance to focus solely on myself, and making me better.
The other thing that can’t be overlooked is the community… It’s a stunningly diverse set of folks. Seriously. Name it. From granolas to good ol’ boys, engineers to artists, grandparents to students, people from all walks of life enter the furnace and cook together. We don’t all hang out and take group vacations, it’s not a cult, but when you see someone “in their clothes” out in the world, there’s a recognition and a smile, a “heey, I know you”, and it’s pretty cool. People I’ve met there have been great – supportive, encouraging, and just fun.
Come on, give it a try. Give it a week. Maybe it won’t be your thing, and that’s cool… but maybe it *is* your thing, and you’re missing it without even knowing it.
Diana + Bikram
I am recently 45, widowed for 12 years, mama to Hayden 14.5. I work part time at OSU as interpreter for the Deaf. I moved to Corvallis in 2007, after my daughter Hannah died (2006)
I drove past Bikram daily for 5 years, always planning to go… Last July, I realized I needed to use our brief & sunny summer to fortify myself for the following February. A casual chat with a friend, who said “You’re worth it”, was the final push over the threshold. I found myself in a Saturday 9am class & I’ve not looked back.
I’ve taken photos after nearly every class. The physical progress is easily tangible, easy to measure; the psychological benefits are a bit tougher to measure, though, for me, far more valuable. 1) I thought the drunk-monkey mind was only mine & I had no idea it could be quieted nor controlled, 2) I’ve always got 20 seconds for a quick savasana, to process before moving on, 3) when it’s done, it’s done, rest, 4) negative voices overruled by Bikramisms , 5) the thrill of thriving where others fear to survive — I’ve got a f*yeah attitude as I come round the corner and see the Me who just rocked another 90 minutes in the Torture Chamber!, 6) I like me more, my family likes me more & life is better with regular practice, 7) it’s magic.
My one year Bikram birthday is coming soon! I know I’ve spent more days this past year with yoga than without and it’s been the nicest thing I’ve ever done for me. 6% of the day dedicated to you, 100% benefit to the world.