When we last spoke to Ali, she was well on her way to meeting her 60-day challenge. Now, the 17-year-old is celebrating her 100th consecutive Bikram Yoga class! Read about her progress, find out what keeps her motivated – and get her top tips for never missing a day in the hot room.
What’s been your main motivation through this challenge?
I love how amazing I feel in my clothes! Bikram Yoga not only gave me a way better body, I’m also much less judgmental of myself, which is a major breakthrough for me. Also, once I got to 40 days, my parents said I could go to New York with my dad if/when I made it to 100. Though I’ve kept my motivation mostly intrinsic – I don’t want to get hung up on rewards or divert my practice from my own wellbeing – it’s nice to have something so exciting waiting at the end.
Also, a little shout out to Danny D. for teaching upbeat and funny classes, Jacob for telling stories and making light conversation during class, and Rea for knowing my limits and pushing me in my practice. Thanks for helping me through those hours I’ve spent in the hot room!
What’s been the toughest thing about this challenge?
Honestly, it hasn’t been the heat or going on days when I’m tired; the biggest challenge for me is keeping my yoga gear smelling good! OK, the yoga can be pretty hard at times, too, but it’s a different kind of hard – the kind that you know, when you try your best, you can overcome it. But you really have to try.
What changes have you seen in yourself physically?
I wasn’t flexible at all on day 1, and that was concerning. I was also overweight, my skin was a mess and I wasn’t sleeping well. Since beginning to practise Bikram Yoga, I’m rapidly losing weight – in a healthy way! My clothes fit and look better, my skin tone has evened out and any blemishes I had are practically non-existent! The quality of my sleep has improved, too.
How about mentally/emotionally?
Before this challenge I couldn’t quiet my brain of negative thoughts about myself and my life; I also had an absolutely terrible memory and would forget things on a very regular basis. I wasn’t motivated to do anything – including the things I love – and I hated who I was and what I looked like. Today my negative thoughts have almost completely stopped, I only forget stuff when I’ve pulled two all-nighters in a row, I’m motivated to do just about anything and, best of all, I’m starting to fall in love with myself and my body.
Have you seen any improvement in your yoga practice?
I could hardly do the 26 postures when I started; I remember looking around the room at students who could do the standing splits in Standing Bow and deciding that I wanted to be able to do that. I tried and I tried, and now I’m so much closer than I ever thought I could have been. My hamstrings were the biggest problem, but spending 90 minutes a day stretching them has made them dramatically better. Also, I used to sit out quite a few postures because I was exhausted; now I can make it through an entire class without missing a pose (or just missing one).
Have you noticed any other changes since starting your challenge?
I’ve made so many new friends at yoga … and the friends you make at yoga are easily the best friends you have because, when you go into that hot room all your flaws are revealed, no makeup and you sweat like a pig. They love you for who you are as a person, not just how you appear, because it’s really hard to look like a superstar in Bikram’s studio. Also, having completed such a physical and mental challenge, I feel like I’m up for just about anything that comes my way!
Are you going to keep going – or will you take a break soon?
I’m a hard-core addict when it comes to yoga! I wake up in the morning and my first thought is, “What time will I take class today?” (That’s followed by, “Is my laundry done?!”) I don’t see myself taking a day off because it has become part of my lifestyle – and I love it.
Now, time to reveal my secrets …
- No Excuses: When it comes to completing a Bikram Yoga challenge, put your reputation on the line and tell everyone you know about what you’re doing. If you’re the type to easily convince yourself to miss class because your yoga top or towel is still in the wash, buy two tops, two bottoms, two towels and one mat. No excuses!
- Shower Fresh: When you hop in the shower after yoga, hold your outfit up against the showerhead before turning on the tap; this protects you from that first, super-cold burst of water and rinses the sweat from your clothes before you put them in the wash. After you’ve used your towel to dry yourself off, fold your used yoga gear into it (as long as it’s not a BYV rental!) so that your bag doesn’t get soaked on the way home!
- Clear & Cold: I use an insulated cold-drink cup from Starbucks and tuck my bus pass, BYV pass and a spare hair elastic in the clear insulated layer. I keep it within arm’s reach all day, sipping water from the straw so that I’m well-hydrated by the time I get to the studio – and I never forget my pass!
- Power Up: I swear by Vega Sport (Prepare, Sustain and Recover). If I don’t feel mentally or physically prepared for yoga, this stuff helps me get an actual workout – instead of a lazy one. If you’re feeling good, it will take your practice to the next level.
- Bikram Buddy: The best way to work hard in class is to bring someone with you (or make a connection with a student who practises at the same time as you). You don’t want to look like a lazy bum when someone you know is present.