I used to love Bikram yoga. After completing 24 classes in 26 days in my quest to do a 30-day challenge, however, I’m not feeling the love. And, if I’m going to make it to the end, I still have to do six classes in the next four days. Blech.
I’m achy all over, my knee hurts, I have a pressure point sore on my foot, and I’m exhausted. I’m also tired of doing so much laundry and planning every freaking day around my yoga class. No zen-like peace in my world.
Yoga classes used to be enjoyable when I only went twice a week. They provided me peace and power. With yoga, my running injuries healed, I gained strength, flexibility, and focus.
I still suggest Bikram yoga to everyone I meet. Yoga classes would help my mom with her arthritis, my sister with her migraines, and any of my friends and family who are looking for good cross-training options or therapy sessions that don’t require talking to someone from a couch.
I will not, however, recommend that anyone try to cram 30 ninety-minute hot yoga classes into 30 consecutive days. For me, it hasn’t been healthy. Granted, I am stronger and more flexible, but I’m certainly not better off physically overall. I can’t wait to get through this month and go back to my twice per week plan–balanced with running, walking, and hiking.
Knowing that I will never attempt a 30-day yoga challenge again, let’s end this on a positive note.
What I have liked about the thirty-day challenge:
1. Getting to take classes from so many different instructors has been great. Hearing someone explain a posture in a slightly different way has really added to my understanding of how to correctly do each pose. I still have a long way to go, but with each class and each attempt, I think I am moving in the right direction. And, as many teachers have reminded me, “This is a practice, not a perfect.” And, “As long as you are focusing on form before depth, you are receiving 100% of the benefits.”
2. I will like being able to say I completed a thirty-day challenge because, for me, it has been a HUGE challenge and I like being able to cross off various life experiences on my never-ending bucket list. Still haven’t gotten there, and not 100% I’ll make it to the end, but I’ll certainly do my best. I’ll then be able to add this accomplishment to the list of other things I’ve done.
3. I always look forward to seeing the staff and other students at the yoga studio. Salt Lake City Bikram Yoga truly rocks. They have amazing instructors, really nice owners, and a beautiful studio. It is truly a wonderful, welcoming place. I also like that an equal mix of men and women, from all ages and with all body types, show up to the same torture chamber as a supportive community with various reasons for why they are there.
4. I’m more accepting of my body. The 30-day challenge hasn’t necessarily provided this, but Bikram Yoga, overall, has. If you expect everyone in a Bikram yoga class to be young and perfectly toned, think again. All of us show up, no matter our age, weight, or limitations–barely dressed because of the heat–and work with the bodies we have. Bodies, in all of their various forms and abilities can be strong and beautiful.
What I have learned:
1. I’m reminded, once again, that it’s best to listen to my body. In reality, my yoga instructors would most likely tell me to discontinue the challenge and go back to a less frequent practice because, for me, that’s clearly the healthier option. My body is telling me that I’m overdoing it and I really should listen. I’m also very stubborn and committed, however, so I most likely won’t listen.
2. Cross-training is best. There are some people out there who stick to one form of exercise and seem to do fine. That doesn’t make sense to me. I feel most balanced and healthiest when I am doing a mix of various things. This challenge has made me really miss running. I also look forward to having more free time to walk my dogs.
3. Don’t set your expectations too firmly at the beginning of anything and let progress come in very small increments. I think I expected too much from this challenge. I envisioned being able to correctly do every pose in its full expression by the end. In only one month? Yeah. Crazy thought, I know. But I did hope.
4. You will always learn from any experience. You might not learn what you expect to learn, but trust me. You will learn.
In summary, wish me luck as I get through these last six classes. Consider giving Bikram Yoga a shot if you haven’t already, and–most importantly–listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs.
Update: Today (December 30th), I completed my 30-day yoga challenge! Glad to have that done.