When did you start doing Bikram Yoga – and why?
I’d been going to the gym in City Square Mall since 2002, so I knew about the opening of the old Cambie Studio in 2003. Out of curiosity, I walked in to do my very first Bikram Yoga class on June 24, 2007. I did my second class two days later. I practised at least three times a week in the beginning – at the time I was also seeing a chiropractor once a week (and had been since 2003). But, after discovering the benefits of Bikram Yoga and seeing how it healed my body, I began to practise five to seven days a week – and have been ever since.
What made you stick with it?
After spending the same amount of time undergoing chiropractic treatment and practising Bikram Yoga, I started to think more about how I can maintain a healthy body – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. While the chiropractor could fix my physical injuries in just a few minutes, emotionally I felt really depressed despite being a long-term patient. I said to myself, “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living like this.” Six months into my practice, I had the answer: the more I stretch, the better I feel.
What do you find most rewarding about Bikram Yoga?
I have become my own chiropractor. Whenever I get sore muscles or any sort of injury, I go back into the yoga room to heal myself. I’ve learned to really listen to my body and feel if it was a stretching pain or a sharp pain. If it’s just a stretching pain, I can gradually heal my body within 90 minutes to a week of practice.
Besides the physical benefits, I value and appreciate the present moment so much more. In any given moment I am more patient, able to better deal with any situation that comes up. In every 90-minute Bikram Yoga class, we’re asked to constantly keep ourselves in the moment with each posture, forgetting about the previous and not anticipating the next pose, so that we can execute it as instructed.
What do you find most challenging about Bikram Yoga?
It never gets “easier” – but this is as much a reward as it is a challenge. Mentally and emotionally, it becomes more manageable; physically, however, every day is different. I’ve found it’s important to stop thinking about what I was able to do yesterday and stop wondering what I’ll be able to do tomorrow. I can only focus on what I’m doing right now. The postures in the series are constant – it’s my body that’s the variable. I don’t allow myself to judge or compare my strength and flexibility – I’ve learned that seeing more of what is possible and less of what isn’t makes me more peaceful. Seeing myself doing things I used consider “impossible,” has taught me a great deal about patience, persistence, growth and change.
What’s your take on the “great water debate”?
Two years into my practice I would only drink water after I finished the standing series. I learned that reaching over to grab my water bottle at any point before that uses a lot of energy and can cause dizziness. After four years of Bikram Yoga, I stopped drinking water in class altogether. Again, it’s not for everyone, but for me it actually sharpens my concentration and helps me stay focused on the execution of each posture. I know it sounds like a minimal amount of energy is spent reaching for a water bottle, but in the hot room every bit of energy counts!
What advice would you give to new students?
Besides keeping a positive attitude and a strong focus on what you’re doing right now, I’d say detachment is the number 1 key to Bikram Yoga. Don’t be married to a certain instructor or spot in the room (or even to your water bottle!). Try all the different instructors to see what each of them has to offer. You never know which instructor is going make you fall in love with the yoga.
After years in the hot room, how do you continuously advance your practice?
Here are some of the things I do to challenge myself:
•Do a 30-day yoga challenge
•Practice in a different spot daily
•Practice in a different studio daily
•Practice with a different teacher daily
•Hold a posture a second longer and a millimetre deeper
•Practise absolute stillness between the postures
•Keep working to break old habits
There are also some great quotes (which I use like mantras) that have inspired me in my yoga practice:
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
– Saint Francis of Assisi
“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.”
– Jim Rohn
“Learn how to turn frustration into fascination. You will learn more being fascinated by life than you will by being frustrated by it.”
– Jim Rohn
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
– Bruce Lee
“There are no limits, only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
– Bruce Lee
Anyone else use quotes like mantras in the hot room? Leave a comment and let us know!