I have never in my life been able to sleep less that 6 hours in a night and not get horribly violently ill. I have been what I like to call a "professional sleeper" my entire life. In fact, I slept through the night immediately since I was a newborn. When I had mono in 10th grade I slept for 41 hours in a 28 hour time period. Before I started doing yoga in May I was going to sleep at 8:30pm, 9 at the latest and sleeping till 7, even though my alarm clock was set for 6:15. Since I started doing yoga, I not only have become a morning person but I am a night owl. I sleep between 5-7 hours a night and I jump out of bed. The most notable experience I had with this was in June when my uncle was having open heart surgery. I had been doing yoga for 5 weeks at that point and was already amazed at the changes in my life. We decided to wake up at 3:30am to leave for the hospital in time to see him before surgery; I jumped out of bed before 3:30. Let me tell you. This had NEVER EVER happened before in my life. Never.
In January of 2008 I decided that I was going to lose weight, go to the gym every day and get a personal trainer. I did! I was paying for 4 training sessions per month which was $160/month on top the monthly membership dues. But I got the hook-up. My friend Mike was my trainer and instead of 4 work-outs a month I was getting 7 and I wasn't getting charged extra. After 2 months I got tired of spending 2 hours at the gym every day and not seeing the results that I wanted. I stopped going, and was punished on top of that because I signed a one year contract and had to pay $160 per month for a YEAR! Now I know a lot of people will look at the cost of Bikram yoga's monthly unlimited plan and think it is expensive, but it really isn't. I have seen more results from my time practicing Bikram Yoga than I ever saw working out at a gym. And I don't have a restraint to how many times I go to Yoga. One month I went 30 times and another month I went 8 times.
I had major surgery on September 4, 2008. I have a ten inch scar left over from it. The surgeon's had to cut my abdomen open to remove as cyst and my ovary. Following the surgery I wasn't able to work out, I was too scared to work out but when I started trying to get back into shape again in March I quickly decided that the pain wasn't worth it. I had absolutely no strength in my stomach, so running made this jarring feeling in the area of my scar that was beyond uncomfortable. Obviously I have been hearing about Bikram Yoga on the radio for the last two years and a girl from work and I decided it was time to give it a try. Initially I was very protective of my scar, and some of the postures were not just uncomfortable, they were painful. But Bikram yoga has taught me to listen to my body. I can do every posture without the pain that I was having for months. I have abdominal muscles that I have NEVER had in my life. I played sports all through junior high and high school and I danced and cheered and never had such a strong core.
You may have read it before, but I will say it again. THROW AWAY THE SCALE! Throw it away. There is a mantra while you are in class, lock the knee- how many times have I heard that, and thought that, and told myself that. Well, outside of class the mantra should be Throw It Away! Seriously- throw it away! I was jumping on that thing every day during the first two weeks of my practice and started to get VERY discouraged. But I was only looking at the numbers and not my appearance. When I finally decided to stop looking at my numbers and instead looking in the mirror I started to see the changes. My face is slimmer, my arms and legs are toned, my waist is much thinner and I am wearing clothes I haven't worn in 2 years. And just in time for bathing suit season my butt is the opposite of saggy. I LOVE it! Practicing Bikram yoga has brought out self confidence that I was not aware that I had. Every once in a while I will hop on it again, but I don't worry about numbers anymore. I feel good, I feel comfortable and I feel confident. I ran into a girl that I had not seen in six months and she immediately asked me what I was doing, because I looked so different and "Toned." And of course I went into my 15 minute speech of why I LOVE yoga and why EVERYONE should do it!
When people ask me about Bikram yoga I tell them that it is the hardest and most relaxing workout that I have ever done and that I am completely addicted to it. It is the most complete full body and mind workout that I have ever done.
Every day I talk myself out of going to Yoga, every day... and if it wasn't on my way home I would probably succeed more often. It has taken me some time to figure out why I do this, which is why it has taken me almost four months to write this too. Bikram yoga FORCES me to deal with my weaknesses, and not just physically, but mentally. You have to be focused in class, period. I had a class just last week where I felt like I wasn't even in the room, at one point during Savasana I think I actually fell asleep. I have had a class where I did not last through half moon and lost my breakfast, lunch and everything in between. I talk myself out of yoga, not because it is physically challenging but because the mentally challenging aspect becomes daunting to me. But I can say that I have NEVER left class disappointed. I have never regretted going and I Always feel like I got something out of the class, whether I did 10 asanas or 26.
To say the least, I love practicing Bikram Yoga.
It has now been more than 60 days since I first walked into your studio and I think that I need to tell you about the changes that Bikram Yoga has made in my life. First a little background about me on the day I walked in. First off I turned 65 on September 18th. I was also about 70 pounds overweight. I suffer from bad knees which I was told to have arthroscopic surgery on more than 20 years ago. I also have a herniated disc in my back, and am taking medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and naproxen for my back pain.
In early January I went to give blood which I do every couple of months. They clocked my blood pressure at 162/92 and this while taking meds for my blood pressure. That same day I also finally read the warning that comes with naproxen. It cautions that taking this drug increases your chance of heart attack and stroke, and also raises blood pressure. At that time I decided I needed to do something more than walk another mile on the treadmill or spend an extra twenty minutes on an exercise bike. I needed to make a lifestyle change. Six months ago I ran into my friend Rocky who had just come from one of your classes and he looked better than I had seen him look in years. He told me about Bikram Yoga and the change it had made in his life and it stuck in the back of my mind. So here six months later I decided to check it out. I went to your website and read page after page of testimonials from people talking about how Bikram had changed their lives and improved their health. I saw that you were offering a two week special for $25.00 all the yoga you can do. I have thrown away a lot more than that for no good reason so what could I possibly lose.
On January 5, 2009 I walked into your studio for the first time and signed up for your two week special. As I was filling out my paperwork for you the previous class was ending and out walked my friend Rocky. He was thrilled to see me there and told me I really needed to sign up for the "60 day challenge." Having not yet taken a class I did not take him seriously.
In my first class the instructor told me I had two goals. Don't leave the room and come back tomorrow. In my first class I actually had three goals, don't leave the room, don't pass out, and don't throw up. I managed to meet all three goals and actually came back the next day. After going through the second class and living to tell about it, I thought to myself "I can do this 60 day thing."
On my third day was when things started to get interesting. I had an appointment with a podiatrist that I had made weeks before. For the last couple of years I had not been able to bend the big toe on my right foot. It always looked swollen and could barely move. The podiatrist took an x-ray of my foot and told me I had severe arthritis in my big toe. Even without any medical training it was easy to see the difference between that toe and the other four. He said that it was an easy fix, they would just make an incision, go in and scrape out all the calcification and that it would be as good as new. I asked him how long I would be out of commission and he replied that I would be wearing a boot for 6-8 weeks. At this point I was already seriously considering the 60 day challenge (even though I didn't have the guts to say it out loud to anyone else yet) I told him I wanted to think about it. He said there was no rush, that I had waited this long, a few more weeks or months really would not make a difference. I came straight to your studio after that and relayed the entire conversation to you. You told me that several of the postures that we do address that area of my foot and you advised me to wait at least 6 months before reconsidering the surgery. Well it didn't take 6 months. Three weeks into my 60 day challenge I could bend my big toe as though there was never anything wrong with it. Three weeks!!! No Surgery!!!
That as you know is not the end of my story. I also relayed to you about how I had to stop playing a round of golf after 11 holes one week before I came to Bikram. I have a very high tolerance for pain but I was in agony and could not swing the club any more. This was because my last cortisone shot had worn off. Again you stressed to me that one of our postures directly addresses both golf and tennis elbow. Five weeks after starting with Bikram a friend called me up to play golf. I told him that my Sunday yoga class ended at 11:30 and that he should make a noon tee time. I went straight from my yoga class to the first tee and started swinging. No warm up, no practice, just started playing. I played 18 holes with no pain in my arm. A week later my buddy came in from NY and wanted to play. I again went from yoga to the golf course. 18 holes no warm up no pain. Best of all, no cortisone shots.
You might think that is enough but my story is not over yet. Two years ago I went to a dermatologist because my daughter didn't like a couple of spots on my hands that she thought may be precancerous lesions. As it turned out they were not. But while I was there I asked the doctor to look at some bumps on the inside of my thighs. They looked like tiny warts. They were ugly and annoying and there were dozens of them. The doc said he couldn't burn them all off because there were so many of them. He said I would be in excruciating pain and would not be able to walk. So as an alternative he gave me a prescription for a cream that would remove them over time. My health plan did not cover that cream and it was a couple of hundred dollars for the prescription and I just decided I didn't want to pay for it. Well I don't know exactly when but somewhere about a month into my Bikram classes these little bumps were gone. Don't know exactly when or how but they are gone. I have no idea whether it was due to sweating out all the toxins from my body or just being exposed to all that humidity on a regular basis, all I know is they are gone. Also gone at about the same time is the hard, scaly, dried out, cracked skin on the heels of both my feet.
Just one more thing since I am such a work in process. I no longer take pain medication for my back, which I used to do as soon as I got out of bed in the morning. The only time I notice any real back pain is in two of the postures that we do. What is interesting is that it hurts on the first set but when we do the second set I don't have any pain, so I know that my back is healing. No progress yet on my knees but then again I screwed them up as a teenager playing football so I am prepared for them to take a while to heal.
Oh, and by the way while all this was going on I lost twelve pounds and three notches on my belt without changing my diet one bit.
Thank you Shelby & John. Thank you to all the other instructors who have helped me and to all of my fellow students who have been amazing in their encouragement in helping me succeed.
Last fall, my sister Rickie kept going on about yoga every time I talked to her. I'd come to see her on Sunday afternoon, but she'd be out the door to make the 3:00 session. December came around, and winter break was coming soon (I'm a teacher). I'd been training for the PF Changs Rock-n-Roll Marathon and my sis mentioned Bikram Yoga might help. Since I was going to be off, I signed up for the two week unlimited trial. I went to my first class, and immediately the multitude of benefits became apparent. I went back the next day (of course!), and said to myself "I have to do this forever." I haven't looked back.
I ran the marathon in January (and came to class the next morning!) and met my goal (3:30) which qualified me to run in the Boston Marathon next spring. Moreover, the increased flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, heat tolerance... I only wish I had discovered Bikram Yoga years ago. Whatever physical activity I engage in, my yoga practice only makes it better, and I find that things I used to do that would cause me to wake up feeling sore the next day no longer do. My running has improved immensely.
I think my friends, family and acquaintances are all getting a bit weary of my non-stop promotion of Bikram. When anyone around me complains about their back or their knees, or whatever, I tell them I have just the prescription!
The last half of 2008 was a very stressful time for me. I had just relocated back to Phoenix after living in NW Indiana for 4 years. I had a new job, a house to unpack, walls to paint, two teenage boys starting out at a new school, Christmas was right around the corner and I was a frazzled mess. I had major insomnia, every night waking up at 2:00 am and unable to go back to sleep. I was getting migraines, which I'm sure were stress related, and after seeing a doctor was informed that my migraine headaches and insomnia were most likely "premenopausal" and "normal, nothing to worry about". Well, I didn't feel normal. I felt very stressed out and miserable.
My life had become such a blur... Work, rushing home to get to high school baseball games or golf tournaments that my boys are involved in, eating dinner at 9:00 pm, doing laundry at 11:00 pm and then starting all over again the next day. It was insanity to say the least!
In March, 2009, I had my milestone 50th birthday. My sister-in-law flew out to Phoenix for my birthday and boy, am I glad she did! For my birthday, she made me promise her that I would start doing something for myself: exercise, take a college class, walk everyday, anything that would be strictly my time and my time only. She told me after putting my family first and doing so much for them all these years, it was now time to do something for myself. She had been going to yoga for about 6 months and she went on and on about how it had changed her life. So I made that promise as her birthday wish for me and called my good friend Laura Jared the very next day to find out about Bikram Yoga. Laura had been trying to get me to attend Bikram Hot Yoga for months but I felt like I could never find the time or energy to go. I attended my first class that night with Laura and was completely and totally hooked!
My first class was crazy. I could barely make it to the end, thought I was going to die, that I was going to have a heart attack right there on my mat during one of my 20 second Savasanas! This 90 minutes of hot yoga kicked my butt like nothing I had ever done before. I staggered out of that hot room, dripping wet, exhausted, feeling like I had just ran the Boston Marathon. It was the most intense, challenging workout I had ever experienced, ever! But I was smiling and I loved it and I felt totally invigorated and that night I went home and for the first time in months slept like a baby and did not wake up until my alarm went off! And the next day I went back and I kept going back every single day of my two week trial period. And so began my 60 day challenge from my very first day of class!
I can't even begin to tell you what a difference this has made in my life. Shelby told me I would have a new body, new mind, and a new spirit after 60 days and it's true. My body has been totally transformed. I am leaner, toner, more muscular than I have ever been at any time in my life. I have always been physically fit and health conscience. I've had fitness memberships of every kind. You name it, I've done it. But nothing has ever grabbed my attention and made me take notice like Bikram Yoga. Every class is such a challenge. Every day is a test of my determination, my stamina, my focus and willpower. And that is what I love about it.
Unlike a fitness center with music blaring, loud weights crashing, people chatting and socializing, yoga is all about focus, determination, concentration, mind over matter. When I'm staring into that mirror using all my mental determination to get me through a 30 second pose, I don't even think about the hot room, the people around me, the sweat running into my eyes. All I see is my happy, smiling (not) face in the mirror telling me, "You can do this, Karen!" I can't wait to get to class, to see all the happy, smiling yogi faces, to feel all the positive energy that people practicing Bikram Yoga seem to possess. And every day, when class is over, I'm amazed that I just spent 90 minutes working my entire body. They say time flies when you're having fun and I guess I'm having fun because it always feels like 15 minutes of practice not 90 minutes. When I'm staring into my eyes, doing my final breathing exercise, the same thought crosses my mind...."Wow, that class went by fast!"
I have found something that I know I will be doing for the rest of my life. Something that I feel great about, that makes me feel great about myself. I could go on and on (I usually do, just ask my friends) but I'll just say this was the best birthday gift I could have ever given myself. I wish I would have started yoga years ago but everything has a time and a purpose and I'm so glad Bikram Yoga has become a part of my life now. Thanks Shelby and John for everything that you do to makes Bikram Yoga of Avondale a wonderful place for me. And a special thanks to Ben and Nikki who keep me inspired by their awesome classes!
I'm a 51 year old man that at the age of 50 was no longer feeling healthy. I have always tried to stay active with hiking & bike riding and working out at the gym. My body had changed drastically and I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I went to the doctor to find out why I no longer could lose weight through diet & exercise and, when I did exercise, my joints and muscles would hurt.
I was diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high liver enzymes & a fatty liver. I quit drinking alcohol and went on a low calorie diet and continued with my exercise and my work outs at the gym. I lost about 15 lbs and lowered my blood pressure (still high) and increased my liver functions but still didn't feel a ñgood soreî with my exercise program. I was stuck at a weight of just over 200 lbs no matter what I did.
I was listening to the John Jay & Rich Radio show one morning while taking my kids to school and heard John Jay talking about how he had lost 85 pounds through the Cookie Diet and Bikram Yoga. I know through listening that he is not the type of person who welcomes exercise or any type of physical activity at all, so this yoga thing caught my interest. I was listening on another trip to school one AM and John Jay had gotten a phone interview with Bikram himself. I could hear the sincerity in his voice -- a genuine wish to help people to live more fulfilling lives.
A month or so passed and I noticed the sign of a Bikram Yoga studio near my home. I went in and met with Shelby the owner. I explained my situation and that I was looking for an exercise program I could do for the rest of my life. She explained Bikram yoga to me in detail. You could tell she was very passionate about it -- not just a business but something she truly enjoyed. I signed for the 1 month deal.
The 1st class was one I'll never forget. All I was told I needed to do for the first class was stay in the 105 degree room for the full 90 minutes. There were no expectations beyond that. As a matter of fact, there are never anybody else's expectations just your own. I thought "this is going to be easy for me" because I have always jogged, hiked, and rode my bike in the summer heat. I love to sweat. That door was calling my name the whole time. With each class you improve and I actually enjoy the sweat because my body feels so much better afterwards.
Well, I have been doing this for a month and a half. I know now why Bikram calls it "his 90 minute torture chamber". But, I feel each and every time that I have accomplished a personal goal. It is getting easier and sometimes I feel that it wasn't even 90 minutes. I honestly have not felt this good in years. I am down to 195lbs with no dieting. The worst thing is that I'm getting an addiction to it! I can't wait for my next doctor's appointment.
It's 105F degrees and 40% humidity and you are fighting against the heat and the beads of perspiration. 90 minutes and 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. What has it taught me?
Some say it's a torture chamber and it's killing yourself. Some attest to a stronger back and healthier body. This is Bikram Yoga.
My first experience was rather interesting as I breezed through the 90 minutes of class without panting or dizziness as many have claimed. I loved it since it reminded me so much of dance. I can just hold the positions just like my dance pose. All that perspiration felt like I worked really hard while all the time I was positioned on my yoga mat. I wasn't running on the tread mill for 5 km. I wasn't having a rehearsal for a full length repertoire. I was just stretching my body and holding for 6-10 seconds. At the end of class, my towel was wet, my hair was dripping like I fell into the pool and my costume was drenched. I enjoyed every bit of it.
I took class almost every day and sometimes I did double when I did my 60 Days challenge. As I proceed and learned more from the instructors and a dear fellow yogi the proper placement of the body, class got harder and more challenging. I felt that each class was more difficult than the last. That's when I learned how to train my mind to just FOCUS. Regardless of the heat, regardless of the perspiration getting into my eyes, I have to just breathe and not give up. I learned about perseverance and just pure Focus. Bikram's very own words were "Use your Bull-dog determination, Will power and Bengal Tiger Strength".
Coming out of the heated room, I carry the same attitude I developed in there to the outside world. No matter what I encounter, whatever distractions that come, I have learned to tell myself to Focus and get my job done. When I'm dancing and the rehearsals are running for the umpteenth time and my heart is pounding, I just kept breathing and told myself to Focus. When I'm doing the 5 km runs, sometimes the heat is scorching and the stitch is killing me, I remember how I have to Focus and not give up. I clenched my teeth and push myself even further and run faster.
In life, there are many distractions and obstacles that we encounter. Close your eyes and just breathe and tell yourself that you can do it. Focus and never give up.
I've heard those words so much they ring through my head constantly. I have been in the fitness industry for many years and I am very aware of what it takes to keep my own body and mind in great shape. So, when a friend told me she was into this Bikram yoga, it piqued my interest. Who doesn't want to be more flexible? Maybe this would help alleviate some of the terrible back spasms I am sometimes troubled with. So, I did the two week intro class with a friend. She never came back but here I am 8 months later...hooked to being in that studio 3 days a week...you want to know why? Stomach, stomach, stomach...I have never in my years of intense workouts seen my stomach look like this and at 46 years old...the more I do it...the stronger my abs get. I did not join Bikram Yoga Avondale to lose weight but where did the extra 5 pounds go that I had when I started? It is still the most challenging fitness regimen I have ever encountered and even got my brother who runs marathons hooked. My back is still an issue but it has been for so many years, I know that if I continue on the path I am addicted to...I will see even greater benefits. I still haven't mastered all of the poses but I know that in time anything can happen.
- Ricki Stevens