As promised I am back to tell you my thoughts, my love and my need for Bikram yoga. You may have heard about this in passing or someone mentioned it to you once and you decided to delete that information from your brain. I’m asking you to think about it again. Healthy people, sick people, young people, old people, crazy people and sane people should all think about this. It is a very simple concept with amazing benefits for your body and mind. You arrive at your local Bikram studio and do not be confused if they do not say Bikram Yoga it may be a form of hot yoga but that is not the same. Do yoga and all types, do it cold, do it hot but find time to experience Bikram. It is 26 postures done in a room at 105 degrees. Each posture is done twice and every class is 90. Every Bikram studio is the same, verbiage, sequence, time and postures. There will be no deviation. This is the fundamental difference between Bikram and hot yoga. Show up to class 30 minutes before so you can talk to the instructor and let them know you have MCTD. Your first class is going to be difficult on so many levels so be honest and up front with the instructor. There are modifications you can make from day 1 to make your class more enjoyable and watch your muscles, joints, and ligaments loosing right up. Be prepared to sweat buckets which also helps elevate inflammation from your hands, ankles, shoulders and anywhere else you may have it. Bring a yoga mat, a bath towel, a small hand towel and lots of water. When I first started I wore long pants and a tank top. You learn very quickly that modesty has no place in this studio and be comfortable. Wear tight shorts and a bra top or a shorts and tank top just be comfortable.
Comfort is an oxymoron when you think about being in a room at 105 degrees and exercising but it is so incredible. Find a spot in the room and make sure you can see yourself in the mirror. Your first thought will be to hide in the back so no one can see you. Believe me when I tell you no one is looking.
I started Bikram yoga back in April 2010 when I was feeling pretty bad and looking at alternatives such as acupuncture or other types of holistic medicine and decided to try Bikram. This is a prescription in its own way and probably now my best bet. Some of the things I experienced were being light headed, a little nauseas, and fatigue. They ask you to stay in the room the whole time but if you need to lie down or take a knee that is very common whether it is your first class or your hundredth class. There is no shame in knowing what your body needs and adapting. There is also nothing like the feeling of accomplishment when you see your body change and become stronger and more limber. I started with about 3 days a week and increased that to 4 days and now I go anywhere between 3-5 days a week depending on my schedule. I prefer mornings so I am exercising on an empty stomach and this works best for me. If you choose to do it later in the day just make sure to eat light and try not to eat a couple of hours before your class. You will develop your own routine based on your ends and really that is what finding balance is all about.
The mental challenge of staying in a hot room and holding posture is so dynamic that when you can do that you feel like there isn’t much in this world you can’t handle. Let’s be honest when you live with MCTD you already feel like there isn’t much in this world you can’t handle but it is nice to be reminded just how strong you really are. Try Bikram and give it real chance. This is not the type of exercise you can show up to once a week and get the benefits from it but if you commit to it you can see great changes.
This practice is challenging and every time you step into the studio your practice will be different. You might rock it one day and feel like this is your first time all over again the next day. This is part of it and what makes us strong. I would feel frustrated when I had a tough practice but I realized there is nothing to be frustrated about, instead acknowledge the feelings and let them go. I still have days that I need to take a knee and sit out a posture. This could be anything from what I ate the night before to how well I slept to what is on my mind when I enter the studio. If I’m in flare-up and I intend to go to the work and work through the flare-up then I go to Bikram and I work through the feelings of pain I have but I modify. Life is about modification and living with MCTD is about being flexible and dealing with what the day dishes out to us and accepting that.
My greatest accomplishment from Bikram is the range of motion I now have in my body. I can squat down all the way with my but on the floor and my knees don’t hurt. I can balance on one leg while kicking my other leg out in front of me and put my forehead on my knee, I can lay in savasana for as long as it takes and keep my thoughts in the room and love every minute I spend in that studio. I have a real passion for Bikram and want to pass it on.