Bikram’s Beauty

Day 2 of my 101 day Bikram yoga challenge was completed with no incident.  I had the pleasure of taking a class with Jennifer Pope, one of the owners of Bikram Yoga East Harlem and a newly minted Bikram teacher as of last year’s fall teacher training.  After my second day, I am encouraged that I chose the right studio to embark upon this journey.  So far it’s a haven of peaceful energy as I go through the highs and lows of my daily practice.

Bikram 101: Day 2

Today, I had less dizziness, but I did pay for my insufficient sleep–a persistent complaint–with less stamina and strength to hold some postures, particularly my favorite, standing bow.  I could hold it for 60 seconds on the left but not on the right.  I’m not worried though.  I have 99 more days to work on it!  Although Stephanie provided insight yesterday about standing head to knee, I had trouble pulling back from kicking out during the asana.  My knee is locked but I don’t have the strength to hold the posture.  I think I’ll work on building that strength instead of starting the posture late and rushing through it.

After class, I had the pleasure of spending some time with another Bikram yoga aficionado which brought me even greater insight into why I practice this form of yoga.  To many “purists”, Bikram yoga, with its mirrors, commanding instructors and trademarked, regimented postures,  is the bastardization–the McDonaldization–of yoga.  I have experienced other forms of yoga and I have enjoyed them.  Elements that irritate detractors of Bikram Choudhury’s 26-posture beginning yoga series are the very things draw and hold my interest after almost 3 years of practice.

I love that it is always the same 26 postures for an hour and a half in a room that is 105 degrees no matter where I go. This consistency frees me up to focus on the tiniest victories as I discover adjustments to improve my form.  The meditation and introspection of the practice finds me in my eyes in the mirror.  I am my greatest teacher.  Watching myself drenched in sweat in that mirror for 90 minutes melts away any and ALL body image issues.  I am strong.  I am beautiful.  I do not question how God built me.  I can do anything, maybe not right away but every minute and every day brings me closer to it.  All I can do is my best and that changes with every day.  I leave each class satisfied and spent.  I can’t say that about everything in my life!  Until that changes, Bikram it is!

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Back to Bikram

I think it’s time. Don’t you? Time to recalibrate and reconnect. What better way to do that than a vigorous Bikram yoga challenge?

Today I embarked on day 1 of a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. It involves 30 days of taking 1 yoga class a day. That’s something I know I can easily do. I’ve done about 6 of them so far.

In all my challenges, I only did classes every day for 30 days straight during my first month of practice.  Actually I did 31 classes in 30 days because because I did class twice on one of those days.  Subsequently in my challenges, I have compressed 30 classes into 15 or 16 days.  I love doubles.  Going to just 1 class a day for a consecutive 30 days is definitely challenging considering my frenetic New York City schedule.

The real challenge though is to see if I can take on Bikram 101 and take class every day for 101 days!  The Bikram 101 blog explains it best:

Why 101 consecutive days?

There are different “challenge lengths” in Bikram yoga. Here is a break out of how each one helps and heals your body…

  • 30-Days: A readjustment period… You’re getting your body primed for an on-going practice. Just getting through a 30 consecutive day challenge is a difficult for most people. It can be difficult to mentally commit yourself to going to class for 30 consecutive days.
  • 60-Days: In the 60-day challenge, the second 30 days are where you get to the “emotional stuff.” While you experience the mental exhaustion “here and there” in the first set of 30 days, you experience it far more frequently in the second set. Anger. Tears. Hysterical laughter. It all comes out here… Both in and out of class.
  • 90-Days: This is when your body suddenly (or so people claim) changes shape. You will notice in the 30 and 60-day challenges that muscles and body parts tighten up. But the third set of 30 is when you start to see the yoga practice pay off physically in your body. You’ve been feeling it up until this point… But now you can actually see it. You can see your “yoga bum” starting to take shape.
  • 100-Days: Ten extra days, just to make things a nice big number…
  • 101-Days: Because you just have to show up for one extra day.

Day 1

I’ve set my sights on a new studio closer to home.  Although I’ve only been there just one day, I’m really enjoying Bikram Yoga East Harlem.  I took class with one of the sister duo who owns the studio, Stephanie Pope Caffey, and it was lovely.  She has an amazing, nurturing, challenging energy.  Her suggestions around standing head to knee might just be the difference between barely making it through the posture and actually powering my through it.

Today’s class was great although I had a few bouts of lightheadedness simply because I’m reconditioning myself after almost a year away from consistent practice.  It wore me out but walking out of there, I felt wonderful.  See you BYEH tomorrow!  Here’s to 30 days and then 71 more!  Let’s see how it goes!