Hot, Sweaty And Sprawled Out On The Floor …
I am going to die.
Or at least, that is what I thought during my first Bikram yoga class. Die, pass out, throw up, have a heart attack. They all seemed like viable options, and I was so ready to welcome anything that would end the torture and suffering.
For those of you that have been living in Greenland for the past few years, Bikram yoga is an intensive 90 minute yoga practice.
“90 minutes?” you say? “No sweat!”
Wrong! Lots of sweat. The key element of Bikram yoga is that it is practiced in a room heated to temperatures of 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius and above, to encourage your muscles to be warm and pliable. And now, due to its ever increasing popularity, you are often practicing in a room crammed full of 20 or more other hot and sweaty bodies, at very close quarters. It gets personal. There are 26 postures that the founder, Bikram Choudhury, developed from Hatha yoga after sustaining a knee injury at 17 and being told he would never walk again. Needless to say, he now walks… and bends, and twists, and stretches. He’s pretty much a human pretzel. Oh and by the way, it only took him 6 months to fully heal his knee through yoga.
The collection of poses takes you through a series of 2 breathing exercises, stretches, back bends, forward bends, sit ups and my personal favourite, savasana or “dead body pose” or as I like to call it “Lie panting on the floor and try not to think about the sweat dripping into your eyes” pose. The poses aim to strengthen all your major muscle groups, work your internal organs, improve blood flow and realign your spine. And trust me, it works!
I fly around the world for a living. I am a flight attendant, air hostess, stewardess, trolley dolly…whatever you want to call me as long as you don’t push the call bell. I am often awake for 24 hours or more at a time and on my feet for most of it. Believe me, after a 15 hour flight from Dubai to San Francisco, my spine (and body and mind) is anything but aligned. I am also a tall lady, 6 feet tall in fact, so I regularly suffer from lower back pain. Or at least…I did.
Flash back a year and you’d probably find me curled up in a ball, heat pack tucked under me, sucking down the Vino’s trying to alleviate the pain in my back and relax my muscles. Oh, and you know those little Voltaren pills? Let’s just say I pretty much kept them in business. I had a pack in every handbag, cupboard and suitcase. Then, I found Bikram.
I was never a sporty kid. I had the flexibility of a bread stick and the strength of a kitten. But, I made a conscious decision for my health to live my life chemical free. I have been practicing Bikram for about 6 months now, as regularly as I can. I seek it out in every city, on every layover, and I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I popped a pill. I’m off the booze, quit smoking and am leading a healthy, vegan life. Bikram yoga really changed my outlook on a lot of things…mainly how badly I want to look good in a pair of lycra, side tie hot pants and a bandeau. Oh, and you know, the little bonus of inner peace, mental clarity and all that jazz.
Sure, sometimes I hate it, sometimes I feel like throwing my water bottle at the tiny, insultingly fit instructor and running screaming from the room, but I always go back, because afterwards, I always feel fantastic. Taking up Bikram yoga is one of the best things I have done in my life and it has brought me into a new awareness of myself. Everything’s better with Bikram.
Now get out there and “Lock Your Knee!”
Author bio: Anna George is an Australian writer/health nut/flight attendant living in the Middle East. After 11 years working as a model and in the hospitality industry, seeing the effects this had on her wellbeing, and battling an alcohol addiction, she undertook a massive health/life/soul transformation. She now lives a natural, vegan lifestyle, is training to complete a marathon next year, and has aspirations towards a career in Life Coaching. Life is beautiful!
Positive affirmation for the day: I release all beliefs of limit and lack.
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