I went to Bikram Yoga on Thursday and Friday morning, taking my weekly total to four times (or six hours). These sessions, along the first one done in the previous week, means that I’m making really good use of the flat-rate offer of 20 days for £18.
I didn’t do any yoga on Saturday or Sunday, and instead did my entire week’s running efforts:
- A 5k parkrun on Saturday (here), plus a few miles extra there and back; and
- A steady run at 80% max-HR (detailed here)
As shown on the HBY website’s helpful summary, here is my Bikram Yoga history:
That’s a total of this really has been my first ‘full on’ week of Bikram incorporated into my daily routine. How did I feel at the end of it? What was different? What did I learn?
EARLY Morning Routine
Well, I had to get up early, that’s for sure – two of the classes this week commenced at 0630, meaning arriving at London Bridge at 0619 which meant getting a 0554 train which meant waking around 0520. In this way my mornings have become very tightly coordinated against the clock. Its a bit of mental discipline early in the morning but as long as I get on that train, then things are generally going to start out okay.
Getting into the Zone
The studio itself, at 40 degrees, is quite distinctive and because the convention is that only the instructor speaks during the class and there is silence at other times, its quite a tranquil place. There is the temptation perhaps to look around, see what other people are doing in the minutes before the class, make eye contact with people you might recognise from previous days, etc. But I’ve found that its a fantastic way to just turn up, lie down, and get mentally prepared for the 90 minutes that are approaching.
Getting better … no matter how small the increment is, it is there
Every session that I attend I become better at attempting the postures. In some other exercise classes it is perhaps ‘ok’ to just get back and half-heartedly attempt the moves. But Bikram is difficult – not only is it done in a hot environment (to enhance the limits of stretching) but its 90 minutes. The voice of the instructors are what you naturally tune into and because their sound is constant throughout the class, you can pick up something new each time you engage yourself into the move. One of the advantages of being in the morning classes, as they are less busy, is that the instructor can occasionally pop over and explain to you what you’re doing wrong). In this way, for several of the postures, instead of trying to haphazardly perform it, it is better to start with some aspect of it (e.g. locking leg into position) before adding to it with other complexity. It is surprisingly hard to balance on one leg after decades of not needing to do it (which in itself seems implausible!) But every day after the class I feel like I’ve achieved something – not only completing the class, attempting every posture, but also getting slightly better each time.
When you are engaged in the class, focused on the guidance of the instructor and willing yourself onwards to hold a posture even if your body is screaming for you to stop, your mind is operating totally in the present. There is no worry about the past, or the future (whether its the challenges of the day at work, or whether its longer term issues/challenges/hopes/fears). Its a fantastic feeling once showered and you climb up the winding staircase to street level, and – as I did the last two days – when you walk for around 30 minutes towards your place of work, it is very satisfying to think about what you have achieved even before you have walked through the doors of the office. With that mindset, almost everything is possible and the only thing that is stopping you from heading towards those goals is your willingness to put 100% into the effort.
Here’s looking forward to a week of further improvements!