I'm a writer/creative person living in Brisbane. Visit my work at: www.emilynuhn.com
Published May 6th 2012
Bikram Yoga, on the lower level of 63 Macgregor Terrace, Bardon is seriously hot. And more than just temperature wise.
It was New Years Day just over five years ago that I attended my first Bikram yoga class with my New Years resolution being to get fit. And I must confess, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
It was hot. So hot I felt like I had entered a torture chamber. My skin felt like it was on fire, sweat was dripping into my eyes and I felt like I could barely move/breathe. I thought 'Who is this insane Bikram guru and how could anyone possibly enjoy this?'
I left the room flustered, angry and exhausted when I got home I fell into an almost coma like sleep on the couch.
But in that time between falling asleep and waking up the next day something happened. For almost the entire year prior, I had been getting severe neck and shoulder pain. A chiropractor had diagnosed it as a mild case of late onset scoliosis resulting in the early stages of carpel tunnel. Each night I would toss and turn restlessly, afraid to fall asleep, for with sleep came excruciating, wake up in the middle of the night multiple times with neck/shoulder pain. After I attended that Bikram class, for the first time in a year, I slept the night through.
So, the next day I woke up and took myself to class again. This pattern continued for the next week and day-by-day my neck/shoulder pain began to subside. And 5 years later I am still hooked. I may not go everyday, but I do attend a class at least 2 to 4 times a week. As a result, I have absolutely no more neck/shoulder pain. But I think it is important to point out it hasn't 'cured' my condition, but it has been the best remedy possible, for myself personally.
Bikram yoga is not an easy practice.The class runs for 90 minutes, encompassing 26 (challenging) postures and the room can reach up to 37 degrees celsius. Although I must confess, some days are hotter than others (and vice versa). But the heat is important, allowing you to stretch the ligaments and muscles of your body far beyond what you could in a cold room. They offer a range a packages to suit all, ranging from a casual, 10 class and monthly pass to an annual membership; and multiple classes are held daily to suit a range of schedules. Make sure you bring a large towel, cool water and do not eat at least 2 hours before class (unless you want to become reacquainted with your last meal).
And, it should be noted, progress is gradual. There are still some postures I have made very small progress with over the years, just due to the make up of my body. Everybody is different. Everyone will have different struggles in the yoga room. Everyone will progress at a different rate. If you embrace this, you will grow and improve. If you compare your yoga practice to the person beside or in front of you, you are defeating the whole purpose of the yoga. One of the beauties of Bikram yoga is that it is about self and self practice. You only need to focus on yourself in that yoga mirror it is one of the few times in life that we can be totally narcissistic, for a benefit.
Another beauty of this yoga is it is not only strengthening your body, but also your mind. In the Bikram hot room your thoughts will be put to the test. There will be days that you want to hightail it out of the room and days you want to scream obscenities at the teacher for 'making the room too hot'. But eventually you will learn to control your mind and thoughts. Gradually what you learn in the room will eventually be put into practice in your day-to-day life. And in this hectic, busy world we all live in, a bit of self-reflection goes a long way.
It's true, it may not be a practice for everyone; and like any exercise it is about finding what works best for you - but it is worth a try on a lazy Saturday/Sunday afternoon. What have you got to loose? Nothing but a bit of sweat. What have you got to gain? You never know until you try it could end up changing your life, which sounds pretty hot to me.