Bikram Yoga Changed My Life

I flirted with Bikram a few times before I really started to practice.  First when I moved to California I practiced for maybe a month, then a couple years later I went to 2 maybe 3 classes.  I always left the room. 

October 1, 2009,  I had recently decided to reclaim my life and finally do something about the 100 lbs or so of excess weight on my 5'4" frame.  I was waking up, like Neo, I had swallowed the red pill and was finally becoming aware.  I started thinking about Bikram again when I wanted to up my exercise routine to something a bit more strenuous than Leslie Sansone's "walk away the lbs"  (don't get me wrong,  I love Leslie,  but I could do more).  I decided to google how may calories it burned and the thing said it burns AS MANY CALORIES AS RUNNING.  Every class is  90 minutes.  I would not run for 90 minutes if a pack of wild dogs were chasing me...practice yoga in a stupid hot room for 90 minutes..this I could do.  

I got over my stress about being the fat girl in Yoga and I went to my local studio.  The universe seriously tried to stop me from going that day.  Apparently someone had driven into the studio lobby and smashed it, so instead of going into the studio through the main doors, you had to go in through some other office and go through some weird back office maze to get to the studio.  I actually turned around and was ready to give up and go home, when this nice woman who I later found out was Susan, the owner of the studio, took me by the shoulders, turned me around and guided me to the place I needed to be.
i paid my 40 dollars for the first 10 classes (this is what I refer to as the Yoga crack, the first 10 classes are cheap but they get you hooked) put my stuff in the locker room and hid myself in the back row of the studio.  

  I had never done any type of physical activity for more than 3 days or classes in my entire adult life.  I had never feel comfortable in my own skin,  I had never felt like there was something I could be proud about with my body.  The only possible exception being was one thing that I could do with my body that I felt somewhat comfortable with.  I never felt like I could be graceful or athletic,  that my body was attractive.  I was a big lumpy mess. 

To cover up my loathsome form, I had a pair of long loose sweatpants and an oversized tee shirt.  I had to spend half the class staring at myself in the mirror, I couldn't bear to wear anything that might show my form.   I hid in the back and did the best I could. I struggled through the standing postures.  The balance postures were horrible,  I couldn't balance on one leg for over a couple seconds.   I made it through all 26 asanas and the breathing exercises and I actually kind of liked it.  I realized that the oversized outfit was not the best idea, my clothes were clinging to me and I did not like the way the wet fabric felt against my skin.   I did love how I felt.  I felt accomplished,  I felt empowered,  I felt like I had run for 90 minutes being chased by a pack of  wild dogs.  

I kept going. 

After 5 or 6 classes in 10 days I  went to a new class and was thinking, man I'm a rock star I've been to x many yoga classes.   I had class with a teacher I hadn't met yet,  she walked into the room and asked who Amy was.  I raised my hand and she said "wow, I looked at your practice history,  you're a rock star!"  I loved that studio, all the teachers  was going to class maybe 4 days a week on average and I loved it.  I was getting out of my head for 90 minutes a class.  i felt better, I slept better I  was in a  better mood.  I was comfortable enough in my own skin to wear tighter clothes to yoga.  I enjoyed the experience much more when I wasn't draped in wet fabric. 

I kept going. 

There began to be moments in class when I'd look at myself in the mirror and not hate the way I looked.  I began to be proud of my body for what it could do.  I was proud that I was flexible,  I could see myself making tiny steps of progress toward my strength and balance postures.  My balance was still awful, but I was making progress.  I was learning how to breathe and focus.   

I kept going. 

The studio I loved closed.  There was a studio near my work but it wasn't MY studio so I got all grumpy and scared, I went anyway.    I began to really like the new studio after a few weeks though.  This studio offered more classes and it was less expensive.  There were more teachers but I got to know them.  i got to learn what each one was like and get different things out of each class depending on the teacher. 

I kept going 

I fell down in yoga,  my ankle gave out and I started to cry.  I stayed for the rest of the class,  sitting for the rest of the standing postures and then doing the floor postures.   I made it  through class but I cried the whole time.  It wasn't a pain thing, it was a this-was-a-crappy-day-already-and-this-was-the cherry thing.   A woman I did not know and have not seen since, walked up to me after class and said "I was sending you love."

I kept going. 

it's over a year now since I started my practice and I still goal myself to 4 classes a week.  I've lost 60 lbs with Yoga, cardio and diet.  I'm more focused and centered and balanced. My balance itself has gotten a lot better.   For the first time in my life,  I feel like my body is an impressive machine that can do amazing things.  My body is something to be proud of.     
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4 Responses Feb 17, 2011

I hate Bikram. I get frustrated and hate the temp. How do you focus when it's so hot?

I hope your still going. Great story, I've been wanting to try this type of yoga as well but the hot temperature kind of scared me. I must try it now. Thanks for sharing.

Awesome!!! Keep it up.<br />
I haven't been for ages (3 months) and will be back into it tomorrow night. Looking forward to it but a little worried.

Omg ... this story is tremendous. So beautifully written ... I felt like I was right there in the moments you described. I have gotten away from my practice and your writing is so inspiring. Thank you ... thank you for taking the time to write this!