Illustration by the magnificent Mary Josie.
Even though I am trying out some new forms of exercise and have consciously taken a break from my intense (desire to) practice, Bikram Yoga is still home. I think to some extent it always will be, I will always come back to it. There’s nothing like it to me. Here’s why Bikram Yoga works for me, and why after all this time it’s still my number one.
THE HEAT. The fact that it’s yoga in 40 degrees Celcius has always helped the cause. It makes practicing more intense, it makes your muscles warmer and therefore more flexible, and I love the extra challenge the heat gives you mentally. You have to accept the heat (getting frustrated only makes it worse) and you have to focus on your breath to deal with it, which helps your yoga practice.
I have always loved to work out when it’s hot. My favorite runs are the ones on super hot days, in the middle of the day, with no shade available anywhere. I know it sounds like a recipe for heatstroke but I don’t run that fast and drink my H20 like a good girl. I guess I just love sweating profusely.
THE SEQUENCE. You’d think that always doing the same 26 postures would get boring pretty quickly. But doing these 26 postures in a row stays interesting because your body and mind can be so different on a day to day basis that you always learn something new when doing this yoga.
And because you know yourself quite well in these 26 postures after a while, it becomes easy to assess and evaluate how your body is doing. What posture is tiring for you, if your nose is getting closer to your knee, if you’re getting more flexible, if you can hold a posture longer, if you find your balance easier after a while.
Doing the 26 same postures all the time can be a nifty tool to get to know your body better over time as you practice.
THE SPOKEN DIALOGUE. I’m terrible at passive meditation, and although yoga is technically active meditation for me it is passive too. Having something to do (the yoga postures) while you meditate makes it active, but the fact that my mind has to focus on the Bikram yoga dialogue makes it easier not to think and just listen. This makes my mind more passive: Because it’s so busy focusing on following the dialogue and doing what the teacher says, I have little to no time for grocery lists, worrying or internal arguments.
For someone with a wicked case of Monkey Mind, having to listen to the yoga teacher for 90 minutes is absolute heaven and a form of meditation.
THE AFTER GLOW. I never feel better than when I just come out of a Bikram Yoga class. You’ve done something wonderful for your body and mind for 90 minutes, you have sweated your ass off, you’ve detoxed and now you’re all yoga blissed out. You feel very clear, relaxed and energized.
I usually have two hunger settings after yoga. One is the ‘I can live on dew drops and sun shine alone forever peace be with all’ and the other one is ‘Eat ALL the things that exist EVERYWHERE’. Added bonus: Bikram Yoga makes you want to go for healthy food, which makes both settings perfectly fine.
If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go sometime. My personal recommendation is that IF you want to take a good class, you should check out the Forty Degrees studio in Amsterdam. It’s clean, the hot room temperature and humidity is perfect to the degree and percentage and the teachers are excellent. If you want it to be a good experience (for as far as the external circumstances can influence this), Forty Degrees is the place to go.
Whoops, gotta go. Just because I’m not doing Bikram yoga right now doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything! OK BYE!