Whenever the topic of exercise comes up in conversation, I am usually the one jumping up and down to share how much I love yoga.
I can also be found saying, “ If I don’t go to class, I promise, you don’t want to be around me. “
The next question is usually, “Where do you practice?”
“Bikram!” I’ll exclaim with excitement.
Then come the blank stares and/or the shifty eye gaze.
Bikram Yoga is a set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises performed in a heated room. This yoga is the same everywhere in the world. I can completely understand how this is not everyone’s favourite form of exercise. In fact, I was reluctant to start it myself the first time. ( "They want me to do what in a hot room?")
In my raw food training I had two instructors tell me that this wasn’t their choice of yoga. This is good info to know if you’re sharing. I thought it was interesting because we were not sharing.
This is not a Bikram vs. other yoga post, nor is it a post on why Bikram yoga is superior to all forms of exercise on the planet. I wanted to write a post about why I love my yoga practice and also share some of the benefits of this particular style of yoga.
Let’s start from the beginning and end up in the now.
Back in 2001, when I was much younger and in my 20’s my friend Leigh (different friend than this one) invited me to accompany her to a class. I had never done yoga before and thought it would be fun (even though I was scared). This ended up being the gateway of me being completely obsessed with my yoga. This was the only yoga I had ever known and I loved it.
A year later I went to work on a cruise ship and didn’t have the opportunity to practice any yoga, let alone hot yoga (it was hot in Hawaii but not the same). When I got home from my sea adventures, I had forgotten about my obsession with Bikram yoga and joined a regular yoga studio. It was here that a wall started to build.
Many, many years went by (7?) where I tried every type of yoga you cold possibly think of (I still love these yogas too). Devoted to my practice I would drive from East Van to my hometown of North Van just because I loved the studio and the owners (plus it felt special to go “home” for something that made me feel so good).
There was that one time in 2011 where I tried going back to Bikram.
My thoughts included:
“Why are they yelling at us?”
“I wish they would shut up.”
“It’s hot in here.”
“Seriously, why is there a microphone?”
Clearly, I wasn’t ready to go back.
When I finally went back in 2012, I learned that none of those things matter.
Yes it’s hot.
Yes, sometimes they’re yelling,
Yes, sometimes I wish they would shut up.
The key for me? Those are just thoughts. If I concentrate on and remember my breath, I will feel like a ROCKSTAR after class. No kicking and screaming in the yoga room.
I am now a born again Bikram yogi. If I’m going to take 2 hours out of my day, it better be worth it. And it is. Nothing else will get me out of bed at 5am (not even dessert!). But getting up so I can get my yoga fix in? Totally worth it.
It will change your life and teaches you patience.
It will make you levitate (no it won’t! But someone said that about Kombucha the other day and I thought it was funny)
Here are just some of the benefits of Bikram yoga that you might not know:
· It activates your ascending and descending colon by helping the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach – this means it helps improve your digestion.
· You are sweating out toxins in the most efficient way. When your muscles are warm, they burn fat more easily. You are speeding up your metabolism.
· Skin- your pores are opened and cleaned when you sweat. This allows the sebum to release through your pores, making your skin soft. (You can also read my post about skin)
It doesn’t really matter what your preferred form of exercise is or what other people think of it. What matters is that you get moving. Do it in a way that works for you. Or try something new but try it 3 times before you make a decision, you could surprise yourself :)
What is your favourite form of exercise? I’d love to hear about it.
Audrey is the founder of Living Lotus Food & Nutrition Inc. a plant-based dessert and food education company in Vancouver, BC. Trained as a certified Whole Food Educator and raw food chef, she is passionate about Making Health Sweet and empowering people to make better food choices. She enjoys playing in the kitchen, yoga, sewing & riding her bike in the sun. Follow her on Twitter @1Living_Lotus or FB 1LivingLotus