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My First Experience With Bikram Yoga
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Bikram yoga. Mysterious for those who haven’t tried it. Yoga in itself can seem rather untouchable for the uninitiated. Never fear. Here is my account of a less-than-flexible athlete’s first experiences with Bikram (hot) yoga. I have known for a long time how good yoga can make me feel…how it can help me maintain and improve what little flexibility I have. Still, this idea of a 90 minute yoga routine in a room heated to over 100 degrees – well, it sounded daunting. But I was curious.

The heat. I knew the heat could do nothing but help my body become limber very quickly, especially the my problem areas of the lower back and my arthritic right should (it actually makes grinding noises when I move). My sister had tried to talk me into it. None doing! It took the love of my life to convince me I should try it. She had discovered it to aid a knee she had injured when she competed in triathlon.

Not one to shy away from a physical challenge, I plopped down my $35 for the first 7 classes. Towels in hand (yes, you will sweat…a LOT), I entered to room to set up my mat next to my friend’s. Despite preconceptions, there were people of all shapes and sizes there, all ages, though I was one of the few males. To enjoy yoga, even something as intense and Bikram, you needn’t be a yogi capable of twisting your body into impossible shapes. Far from it, it’s about going as far as what is reasonably comfortable, learning to listen to your body tell you what it can do, and maybe nudging it just a little further.

Yoga’s benefits are manifold – weight loss, improved flexibility, strength, better balance, improved circulation…the list goes on. When you perform the 26 poses of the Bikram method in a very warm room, those benefits are vastly accelerated, but you need to listen to your body and not push too hard. The heat can be dangerous, but if you learn to listen to what your body tells you and pace yourself, the rewards are evident almost immediately. I know better definition and flexibility that I’ve known in ages. I feel 20 years younger. Hot yoga works!

It may seem expensive at first, but when you consider the alternative of increased medical bills or, for those really struggling to manage stress, the cost of going to a therapist, the long-term benefits of Bikram yoga far outweigh what may first seem like a frivolous expenditure. It is actually an investment in yourself and, when you realize how much happier and healthier you are as a result, an investment in your relationships and everything else you do in life. Unlike many other sports or exercise routines, the cost of equipment and apparel is minimal.

Give it a try. Look up a local Bikram studio. Most have great introductory packages. Talk to your doctor to be safe, relax and enjoy letting the stresses and toxins of the day melt away from you. You won’t regret it.


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