Ali has always loved sports. Unfortunately, most of her athletic pursuits (soccer, martial arts, etc.) left her muscles feeling tight and inflexible. Seeking something different, she decided to commit herself to a 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge. Now, she’s well on her way to reaching 60 classes in a row – and feeling stronger, more flexible and happier than ever before!
Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class – how did it become a 30-day (and then a 60-day) challenge?
About two months ago I lost my phone; when I tried calling it a woman answered and invited me to meet her at a Bikram Yoga class that afternoon. Not only did I get my phone back, I decided to stay for the class. Julia was my teacher. It was different from other workouts; you can’t make eye contact with your friend next to you and giggle. It takes a lot of focus and concentration. During the class I couldn’t stop thinking, “Future me is going to love me.”
After that I made up my mind to challenge myself and do 30 classes in a row (right off the bat I wanted my body to get used to the heat and to being pulled in new ways). Once I reached that goal I decided to go for 60. Taking it by 30s, my goal at this point is to see how many classes I can do consecutively in order to find out what I’m capable of. No matter what that number is in the end, I’ve already impressed myself with how committed I am to my practice!
What do you love most about practising Bikram Yoga?
Besides improving my flexibility, strengthening my back and getting a good workout, I continue to crave, daily, that wonderful feeling of bliss you get 15 minutes after every class. It’s the most peaceful feeling. I’ve also gained stamina, lost weight and am in a better state of mind – and I didn’t even know that was on the menu for benefits! The more I practise the more I notice little changes in my postures, where I can see my toe above my head in Standing Bow or put my hands on my heels in Camel. Every time I notice something new that I can do it is a significant moment.
Would you recommend other beginners commit to a personal challenge like you did?
Absolutely, yes! I’ve never done yoga before this and I was not flexible at all when I started; now I’m much more flexible and, best of all, I’m a much happier person. The key is to make a promise to yourself and stick to it – if that’s not enough, try telling everyone you know about what you’re doing so that there’s pressure to continue and not decide to quit!
Got any other tips for beginners on how to make it through a challenge?
If you come to a day in your challenge when you don’t feel like going, just remind yourself what you’ve committed to and get yourself in the hot room. Hydrate yourself by drinking tonnes of water before each class so you’re well prepared. I also just discovered Vega’s Pre-Workout Energizer; I was having a horrible day, fighting myself internally (which generally means I won’t be able to focus in class). But I tried the Vega and I really impressed myself.
Also, it really helps to have a supportive network cheering you on. My mom gives me rides to the studio when bussing would make me late and helps me rotate my laundry every night (best mom ever!). My dad picks me up from yoga on his way home from work and I’m currently working on convincing him to come to class with me (so far he told me if I become a teacher, he’ll come to my classes; I guess this is better than a flat-out no?). Everyone else I know is really proud of me, and my mom can’t stop telling her friends what I have accomplished!
Which posture do you currently like most? Which do you find challenging?
Right now I’m loving Fixed Firm Pose. When I started I could hardly lean back in this one; now my shoulders are on the ground and my knees are inching together. This also is the beginning of the floor series and I love most of the postures on the floor – they relax my constantly wandering mind. My least favourite posture is Locust Pose. My elbows, wrists, shoulders and chest hurt in this one and at this point I’m barely lifting my leg up because I’m focusing on getting my arms in the right place and keeping them there, which is proving to be pretty hard.
Now that you’ve discovered Bikram Yoga will it always be a part of your life?
Oh for sure! I love the hot room and I’m totally addicted to it. I can’t picture my life without it. My 60th class is on May 31 … I’m excited to see where I take my practice beyond that!