How I found Bikram, or how Bikram found me!
OMG, that pose ‘standing bow’ is my least favorite of all 26 poses!
So let the fun begin. In case you have not heard my “Bikram Story” of why I began (or how I found Bikram) ….let me be brief and share.
At age 60 I was feeling tired- I was feeling discouraged due to having “tennis elbow” and having my activities restricted…. I was beginning to ‘feel OLD’ and concerned with my ‘functional fitness’ of being strong, flexible and agile…. and I was tired of looking down at my belly and seeing a ‘men-o-pot’. (aka, foreign flab around the belly !)
I asked my spirit what I should do and what would serve my soul best and I heard BIKRAM YOGA!
When I heard that loud “whisper”– or nudge from my inner-being, I wanted to ignore it or more accurately, I wanted to scream “NO WAY” and RUN! But you know the saying, “Wherever you go -there you are”!?? Indeed, why RUN from something that could potentially be the best thing that my body-mind-spirit-soul needs?
OK…. so first of all- I had no idea that the attire for women at Bikram could range from bathing suit bottoms, bootie shorts, shorts, capri leggings to long yoga pants. Close to 50% of the women wear the Bikram ‘bathing suit bottoms’ or bootie shorts….. and all but a couple wear a skimpy yoga bra top! Imagine me with a full lyra top with built in bra (much like a ‘spank’) and long bell bottom yoga pants. YIKES= the equivalent to a snow suit in 105 degree weather and 40% humidity! silly me!
During my 30-Day Challenge I bought 3 bootie shorts with built in ‘lycra-shorts’ under them, 3 capri pants and 1 pair of long yoga pants. Although the bootie shorts are the ‘coolest’ I rarely wore them – partly because I felt uncomfortable and revealing, but mainly because my body sweat so profusely that my legs were so sweaty I couldn’t hold some of the necessary grips or poses….
When I purchased the 30-Day Introductory package : 30 classes in 30 days for $30 I had NO INTENTION of doing Bikram for 30-Days straight….
but the ‘vibe’ of the ‘tribe’ in Bikram can be very encouraging and very persuasive and all of a sudden I realized I had made a decision to do 30-Days straight- if possible.
Day 1: Let’s just say, I survived! I had no idea how difficult or hot it would be. I felt ill-prepared for the stretching that was involved and having ‘tennis elbow’ pain made it even more difficult. I had done Bikram a couple of times in my 40’s but at age 60, with 20 additional pounds of weight, especially around the belly, I found it much more difficult to get in and hold a pose.
Day 2: I remember being much less anxious, because I knew what to expect, but I also recall feeling so unbelievably incompetent!!!! I’m a natural athlete and sports come to me with relative ease, but Bikram as I learned is another kind of beast. Surprise to me, I enjoyed the challenge and I loved the detox effect from all the sweating. It was exhausting but also cleansing.
Honest to God, around Day 6 or so, I began calling on my angel guides and ‘helpers’…. just as we were beginning the first breathing ‘posture’. Clearly some of them have to be able to help me with balance and yoga poses…. and I believe it helped.
Helpful HINT: TIDBIT to know! One thing I learned early on, it is important to SEE yourself in the mirror during Bikram. I tried many different spots throughout the studio and ended up in the back row, by choice, over half the time. As long as you can see your eyes, you can be anywhere.
On a couple of occasions someone put their yoga mat smack in front of mine and I couldn’t see myself in the mirror, which was more difficult with balancing poses. Also one day I got in the crack/line of the mirror and it was very disorienting. So, hint…. look at yourself in the mirror- as much as possible, even if you don’t like what you see!
Also doing Bikram is like in school where you don’t look at someone else’s paper during a test- well, during Bikram look at YOURSELF and no one else. If you look at someone else you’ll lose concentration- especially in a balance pose. What I learned is yoga is all about you and your practice…it is not a comparison ‘sport’.
I’m not going to share day by day (you can go to www.WorkWithDaveandJoy.com to read my many blogs) but I do want to share a summary of Day 1 vs. Day 30 with the Bikram Poses!
Pose 1. Pranayama (aka standing deep breathing) Day 1 the majority of my breaths were in through the mouth rather than the nose. My arms were tired by the first set and I had to shake them out periodically. I didn’t know HOW to do the OUTER BREATH or HA sound, which sounds silly, but it was so new to me. After the first pose I was already tired and my right arm (aka tennis elbow arm) was screaming. Help, I had 85 minutes to go and 25 more poses. Day 30 I was 90% better than Day 1. My breath has improved and my flexibility in my elbows and neck have improved!
Pose 2. Ardha-Chandrasana (aka half moon pose and hand to feet) Day 1 I could barely bend to the sides with straight arms…and forget about bending back. The first time I put my head back I got so dizzy I thought I may pass out and fall to the floor! bending down and putting my hands under my heels- yeah right? was not possible and there is no way I looked like a Japanese Ham Sandwich with my head on my knees. Day 30 my flexibility, especially to the sides has improved and I no longer get dizzy looking back. I believe these side-way bends has helped chisel some fat off my waist. Can I do the “head to the leg” or Japanese Ham Sandwich ‘pose’….heck no, but I improved so it looks like a HOAGIE sandwich….
Pose 3. Utkatasana (aka awkward pose, no kidding!) Day 1 I found it difficult sitting in ‘the chair’…it was more like sitting on a stool. Going on my tip toes HURT so much and my balance was poor. Putting my knees together and going down- ha-ha, not possible. Day 30 I could do all 3 of the poses in this one pose. Not perfect, but with balance.
Pose 4. Garurasana (aka eagle pose) Day 1 There was no way my arms wanted to ‘twist’ into that crazy pose and it hurt!!!! but what was harder than that was the BALANCING on one foot. OMG! I am VERY right side dominant so the left foot stability was a joke. Still, I tried and may have been able to balance for a couple of seconds, max, on the left side. Day 30 Certainly not perfect but I could hold both stances the entire time, I could do the arm ‘twist pose’ without too much pain and although I could not, yet, wrap my toes around my calf, it was to the side and stable. whew!
Pose 5. Dandayamana-Janushirasana (aka standing head to knee) Day 1– really? The best I could do was hold onto my foot and stand on one straight leg. Right side, not so bad, left side I hopped around like a pogo stick on that damn left foot most of the pose. It really took concentration! Day 30 my stability has dramatically improved so much so that I no longer want to bolt when this pose comes! Still I am not able to kick out-hold the leg for the duration, or put my head to my foot…but the progress was significant.
Pose 6. Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (aka standing bow pulling pose). Day 1 – you can’t be serious! I had no idea how to even hold my heel from the outside, let alone balance on one leg and kick back. No way. From Day 1-30 this was my least favorite pose and when it was over I was always relieved. The only time I took a pee break during my entire 30 days missing one pose was with this pose. on purpose! Hard to believe I never sat out any poses that entire 30 days! Day 30 – I can’t say I even came close to mastering this pose 50%…. BUT I was able to get the grip better on Day 30 and at least stand still, even if I didn’t do the kicking back. The few times I did get the pose in alignment, I could only last there for 2-4 seconds. (I actually had night mares of this pose many times!!!)
Pose 7. Tuladandasana (aka balancing stick pose) Day 1- I have never had a perfect pose with Bikram but this one, for whatever reason, has come easier than most. My balance was a little shaky -especially on my left side, but I grew to like this pose. Day 30- I continued to enjoy this pose….my favorite!!!! Perhaps it also was the encouragement from several instructors who told me I GOT THE POSE! Confidence certainly helps- esp. when you feel so inept!
Pose 8. Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana (aka standing separate leg stretching pose) Day 1 who the heck makes up these names anyway? I’ll have to admit, this pose is where I relaxed a little and didn’t push or pull too much. I could reach the outside of my heels, but not UNDER my heels. I hung comfortably! Day 30- I began truly pulling on my heels and I almost can reach my head to the floor. Strength and flexibility have improved… and belly is smaller.
Pose 9. Trikanasana (aka triangle pose) Day 1- to my surprise I could ‘sort of’ do this pose however by the time this pose came along, my arms were exhausted and felt like they each weighed 50 lbs. Also my feet….sore! Day 30– I will never say this is a favorite pose as it is challenging but I think my “Triangle pose” looks ‘sort of’ like what it is supposed to. Able to go deeper and reach with straighter arms. Still a tiring pose!
Pose 10. Dandayamana-ibhaktapada-Janushirasana Day 1- I really have to bend my knee to even begin to get my head on my knee…and yikes, with a men-o-pot around the belly, bending over is not easy! Day 30- one of the poses that has improved due to flexibility and having a smaller belly makes the curling down and over, much easier.
Pose 11. Tadasana (aka tree pose) Day 1- One of the few poses that I knew and knew how to do, or thought I did. Why then was it almost impossible to pull up my right foot, rest it on my thigh and balance? Once again, that left side really needs help with balancing and stability!!! easier on the right side for sure, position and standing with stability. 30- Improvement for sure but why the left side is still difficult is hard to imagine.
Pose 12. Padangustasana (aka toe stand pose) Day 1- are you kidding me? I am so sweaty that it is hard to grip anything and everything slides. Asked if I could use a towel and was told not to. Day 30- sorry to admit, I didn’t even attempt it. I was still trying to perfect the TREE pose with grace and ease.
HALLELUJIA! on the floor. Balancing poses are done. Yeah!!!!
Pose 13. ahhhh, Dead Body Pose. 2 minutes of rest. Day 1- it felt awkward to just lay there without wiping sweat etc. Day 30- not only do I LOVE this pose, I enjoy it for the therapeutic benefits. I also practice my breathe in this pose. Good stuff.
Pose 14. Pavanamuktasana (aka wind removing pose) Day 1- I love this pose. Easy on both right and left side and even in the middle, though with a smaller belly I could get further compressed. Day 30- I still like this pose, and with a smaller belly, can do it better than on Day 1. Some times I can even grab my elbows, not just my wrists. Yeah!!!!
Pose 15. Sit-Up Day 1- hey this I can do. 🙂 Day 30- easy to do a sit up with good form and keeping the arms close to the head.
Pose 16. Bhujangasana– (aka cobra pose) Day 1- ouch, this hurts my neck and my arms! Could not come up more than a couple of inches off the floor. Day 30- not perfect but I can come up with ease to my belly button. Spine and back are getting stronger!
Pose 17. Salabhasana (aka lotus pose) Day 1- this kills my arms, esp. right arm due to ‘tennis elbow pain’. I could barely get my right leg up or my left leg up, and the cobra tail, really? Day 30- improvement for sure but took it easy with my arm/elbow pain and never put them under my body completely. range of motion improved though I doubt anyone would even know the 3rd part with my legs ‘as one’ was a cobra tail. 🙂
Pose 18. Poorna-Salabhasana (aka full lotus pose or “airplane”) Day 1- embarrassing how little I could actually lift off the floor. Arms were totally spent by the time we got to this pose. Day 30- I never really did like this pose but I have to say I was able to get UP more and more each and every day.
Post 19. Dhanurasana (aka bow pose) Day 1– not sure why this is so hard, and can’t figure out how to kick and keep my legs together. oh well… Day 30- I still don’t know how to roll UP on this and kick legs way up… and keep my wrists straight. Something to work on. Also VERY difficult on my trap area, which I can’t understand.
Pose 20. Supta-Vajrasana (aka fixed firm pose) Day 1- I could stand on my knees and look up- that was IT! When I attempted to look back I thought I’d pass out. No need to pass out on the first day….so I stayed there in kneeling position. Day 30- I can actually do the pose now… on the second round of this pose I can not only go to the floor, but put my head on the floor and hand up over my head. WAY more flexible.
Pose 21. Ardha-Kurmasana (aka half tortoise pose) Day 1- stretch felt good and because we can bend our knee as much as needed, I could ‘sort of’ do the pose. Still this belly has to go. Day 30- Smaller belly now and easier to bend OVER the belly and get my forehead on the knee. Can’t straighten the knee but getting closer.
Pose 22. Ustrasana (aka camel pose) Day 1- hands on my hips, that is all I could do. leaning back and even looking up made me dizzy. Day 30- wow, I can do it. full back bend, strength and agility.
Pose 23. Sasangasana (aka rabbit pose) Day 1- silly pose. I sort of rested in this one and didn’t have the strength to pull. Day 30- smaller belly, able to roll over and compress and actually pull up. I still tend to use this as a ‘resting pose’.
Pose 24. Janushirasana avec Paschimotthanasana (head to knee pose with stretching pose) Day 1- since we can bend the knee as much as possible to still get the therapeutic benefits, this was an OK pose on Day 1…though I definitely need help with stretching. Day 30- much better on Day 30 and although I can’t get my head on my knees in the leg ‘out’ position, I am getting closer.
Pose 25. Ardja-Matsyendrasana (spine twisting pose) Day 1- felt like a good stretch. Day 30- LOVE this stretch and partly because I know it is the END! I can certainly twist more today than when I started. My spine seems so much stronger and supple.
Pose 26. Kapalbhati Vajrasana (aka blowing in firm pose) Day 1- strange breathing…. but knowing it is helping remove toxins, I did the breath as best as I could do. Day 30- ahhh, I love ending the practice with this breath. From here it is back to DEAD BODY POSE and 2 minutes of pure bliss.
Days 1-5 I didn’t drink electrolytes and was having a difficult time recovering. I was tired for hours each day and my ‘work life’ took second place. I just didn’t have the strength to do it all, and my priority was my BODY and ultimately my own ‘self-care’.
To counter act my fatigue I also began drinking a supplement called Tavala TRIM, which gives you energy and focus, boosts the metabolism and is a bronchial dilator- which really helps with breathing. (also used by many for appetite suppressant/cravings and for ‘fat-weight loss)
Also, I placed a Quantum Relief Strip above and below my elbow for my “tennis elbow” and they helped bring energy to that part of the body, making it easier to do the full 90-min. practice. You can learn about these products by going to www.TryOurSamples.com.
I love hearing others stories about their Bikram Yoga Experience, whether it is a 30 or 60 Day Challenge or what it has done for you. I will continue my ‘practice’ and my goal is to find a good balance with yoga and weight training at the gym. I believe my flexibility and strength will enhance daily activities as well as sports.
In closing, here is a couple of words of wisdom! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. DO ask what it needs and how you can serve it. Follow your heart, your inner guidance and intuition! Fuel it properly- after all, it is the only body we have!