Guest Post by Kaity
This month I would like to introduce you to Bikram Yoga.
Bikram yoga is a series of 26 asanas (postures) precisely strung together so that each asana prepares the body for the next, and systematically works every inch of the body from the inside out, from the top of the head to the tips of the toes.
It is, in my opinion, THE BEST exercise you can give yourself.
So what is so amazing about Bikram? The list is endless…
Promotes true healing through postures that activate the body’s natural healing abilities and detoxification system
Promotes mental clarity by reducing stress & anxiety levels and building concentration levels
Promotes healthy metabolism
Expands lung capacity and strengthens the heart
Improves the spine’s flexibility and health
Lubricates the joints
Strengthens bones, and stretches and tones the muscles
Supplies oxygen and nutrients to parts of the body that have been blocked or stagnant
Builds energy and stamina
And much, much more!Yoga is traditionally considered a discipline, used to focus the mind through physical movements that quiet the body and nervous system. Bikram takes discipline to a whole new level. First of all, you’re basically in a sauna; 105 degrees, 40 percent humidity. Bikram himself refers to his studio as the ‘torture chamber’; I think you can understand why. But there is a method to the madness- the heat warms your muscles, making them more malleable, allowing for greater ease of stretching. It does the ‘warm-up’ part for you and allows for more focus on the postures. Along with the humidity, the heat also promotes the body to sweat (profusely; I mean you will be drenched by the end of class), aiding in the detoxification process.
Second, Bikram tests your willpower. Standard Bikram dialogue tells students to push themselves: go farther, stretch harder, focus deeper. Each Bikram posture forces you to focus 110% on your body; lock the knee, suck the stomach in, stretch and stretch and STRETCH! Oh, and don’t forget to breathe!
Bikram purposely designed his series to challenge the student; it is all about pushing past the limits your mind has made up, and building your confidence and inner strength. Every posture is a fight against yourself because the ego cannot stand the thought of accepting defeat. Like the little train chugging up the hill- I think I can, I think I can- you must break the boundaries fabricated between your mind and body and persevere. Regular practice builds one’s focus by quieting the mind and channeling the attention into the moment, into each breath and movement. It is not about just going through the motions, but putting intention into each movement in order to gain the greatest benefit from each posture. This is true discipline.
I fell in love with Bikram yoga my first class in September of 2011. I LOVE the challenge; I practically feed off of it. You’re basically working against yourself; I get extreme satisfaction from pushing past my boundaries and testing myself. I often smile in class because that is when I break past boundaries and take a posture to a whole new level. It makes me feel like a child- “Look what I can do!” The personal gratification Bikram practice brings helps to build your confidence and ground your energy, or make you more connected with your inner self. I have learned more about myself through practicing Bikram than I ever have through a therapy session; it makes me feel like a better person. Other things I have noticed change throughout my practice are my eating habits, my energy level, and my anxiety level. My eating habits become cleaner; my cravings for junk food subside considerably and I naturally crave healthier, more fulfilling foods. I am more able to sustain my energy throughout the day, as well. Exercise in general is a great stress buster, but Bikram really does the trick for me. I am less anxious and more able to deal with stressors and let things go. My practice also provides incredible emotional maintenance. Each posture works not only on a physical level but on an emotional level, too, releasing built up energy. If you are holding onto things (emotionally) be sure they will come up during practice. Don’t be wary though, it is just as important to cleanse the physical self as it is the mental self. Physically, I feel and look healthier and more vibrant. My skin becomes clearer, my posture is normal, and I am more able to enjoy other physical activities, such as hiking. I believe in Bikram so deeply because I have experienced the healing powers it can provide and know others that have experienced it too. It is a truly amazing practice!
Bikram clears the mind, renews the spirit, and rejuvenates the body. A complete package! There is a type of yoga that suits each individual, but I strongly encourage you to try Bikram. I promise it will be worth it!
You can find out more about Bikram yoga, the postures, and find a studio near you at this website: http://www.bikramyoga.com/
Check back next month for my article about Traditional Chinese Medicine!