I’ve gotten side tracked the past few weeks and haven’t blogged as much as I normally do. A real hot spot is to blame for my disappearance. My time has been hanging out in this joint, sweating up a storm. No, I haven’t been doing the electric slide or the boot scootin boogie. I’ve been doing the full locust, cobra, and camel. Bikram yoga is my new love. I’ve been going regularly for two months now, almost everyday. Why everyday? Well, simply because it makes my heart and body feel utterly yummy. Since hitting my goal weight, health is my top priority. I’m driven to improve my mind, body, and spirit….and Bikram is helping me reach these goals.
Bikram yoga is not for the faint of heart. It’s practiced in a 105 degree room that averages 40% humidity. This means one thing….you sweat…a lot. The first week was pretty much hell on earth, but in a wonderful strange way. In the beginning I was full of fear. Afraid I would faint, afraid my Parkinson’s symptoms would worsen, afraid my back would snap if I bent back too far, afraid I would look silly in a pair of booty shorts, afraid I would have a stroke, afraid I couldn’t do it, afraid of being afraid. Bikram is about letting go. Letting go of control, expectations, and most of all fear.
In only two short months I can feel and see the transformation. I actually have muscle “cuts” on my arms now! My thighs have shrunk, tightened, and I see muscle! My belly bloat is gone! I can feel my ribs, yes I have them! My skin is smoother and softer than it’s been in years! I’m calm and present! I’m drinking more water than ever before! I just purchased the first bikini I’ve ever owned in my life! And last but not least, I’ve been able to cut back on my PD meds! Shazammmm!
Another amazing thing Bikram is helping me find is trust. Trust in my spirit, mind, and body. Being diagnosed with an incurable brain disease can really screw with trust issues. The past few years I’ve lost a huge chunk of trust in my body. After the diagnosis I felt damaged, vulnerable, and broken. Bikram is helping me change all that. For the first time in five years I feel strong both emotionally and physically. I feel connected to the planet in a much deeper way.
A big part of this transformation is because I’m finely breathing. I mean really breathing. Yoga is training me to become more aware of the power of my breath. Most of us tend to hold our breath when we get in tough situations. Bikram teaches you how to breathe through life’s challenges. Truly powerful stuff.
Why the heat you ask? Well here’s what Choudury Bikram says:
Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and from fingertips to toes. So before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body. Then you can reshape the body any way you want.
Hatha Yoga flushes away the waste products, the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It provides a natural irrigation of the body through the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system. It brings nourishment to every cell of your body so that each one can perform its function and keep your body healthy. Bikram Yoga also employs heat to further that cleaning process: When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.
Practicing yoga not only increases our supplies of oxygen, but it also teaches us how to use that oxygen properly – we learn to control the breath through pranayama.
The sense of well-being I achieved after practicing only for a short period of time was truly unexpected. Not only am I feeling a sense of peace emotionally, but also spiritually. I feel incredibly connected to my higher power these days….God is suddenly in my back pocket. This shift happened within the first two weeks of practicing. Change happens fast when you commit yourself to a regular routine of Bikram yoga.
Here’s are more thoughts from Bikram himself on the effect yoga has on emotions:
Bikram Yoga helps balance the emotions in several ways.
Physiologically, regular practice harmonizes the nervous and endocrine systems, two systems which figure heavily in emotional well-being.
In addition, practicing Bikram Yoga cultivates the mental faculties of faith, self-control, concentration, determination, and patience. As we become more aware of our inner life, we notice how events, interactions, and even the atmospheric pressure effect us. When we are aware, we can exercise choice in our response. This helps us balance our emotional life.
I would encourage everyone to give Bikram yoga a try. They say “It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, and you’re never too old or too sick to start from scratch again”.
P.S. If you live in the Central Valley in California, check out Bikram Yoga in Stockton. This studio is beautiful and immaculate. The instructors are brilliant, kind, and inspiring. The studio exudes wonderful energy full of love and friendship. I truly consider it my home away from home.