Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five tips for Bikram beginners

My Bikram studio recently did several Groupons. This is great, because Bikram yoga is wonderful for your mental, physical, and emotional health, and everyone should give it a try! That being said, I've realized there are a few things that I wish someone had told me as a beginner, and so I'm sharing them here.

If you're going to try your very first Bikram yoga class, here are five things you should know:

  1. It's super important that everyone can see part of themselves in the mirror. If you're anywhere but the back row, be aware of other yogis in the class, and stagger your mat so that they can see themselves as well.
  2. The yoga room is a silent place. The Bikram community is wonderful, and talking in the lobby is totally encouraged, but a lot of people come early to class to zone out, get their meditation on, or just enjoy some silence. Even if you're coming to yoga with your friends, try not to talk inside of the room.
  3. It's totally okay to sit out a posture. Or seven. Yoga isn't a competition, and it's about the journey. If you need to sit down and take a breather, do it. Noone is judging you, I promise.
  4. People don't wear a lot of clothes, and it's more than acceptable to join them. You know why? Because it's cool. Literally. You are sweating in a 104 degree room for 90 minutes, and you're going to feel a heck of a lot better in a sports bra and short shorts than leggings and a t-shirt. Like I said, noone is judging you.
  5. Come back the next day. So maybe your first class was rough. Maybe you felt hot and sweaty and not flexible. Leave the room, sign up for the next day, and come back. Flexibility, inner peace, happiness... all of these things take time. You're never going to heal yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally unless you keep coming back.
Anyone else a Bikram yogi? What would you tell a newbie to the practice?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happiness is a choice.

Here’s a shocking fact: bad things happen to everybody. Okay, so maybe it’s not that shocking. But for a few months earlier this year, it was shocking for me.
It’s not like I’ve never had anything bad happen to me; of course I have. But the way I felt was new – and for two months, I wallowed, I pity-partied, and I told everyone who would listen about my plight.
At some point, I got sick of being the only person at my pity party, and decided that I could create the life I wanted. I signed up for a marathon, I registered for my first pageant in three years, I started blogging more. And in the last several months, amazing things have happened: I landed a fantastic job, I ran a marathon, and I earned my way to the Miss Virginia stage – somewhere I never thought I would be competing. All of those things have happened not because I am special or lucky, but because I refuse, on a daily basis, to allow things I cannot change impact my attitude.
Bad things happen to everybody. And most of the time, they’re bad things that you have zero control over: getting rejected from your dream college, someone breaking your heart, someone saying something mean. But you know what I’ve learned in the last nine months? While you have zero control over what happens, you have 100% control over how you react to it.
Positivity is a choice. Being happy is a choice. Proactively going after everything you’ve ever wanted in life is a choice. Change what you can, accept what you can’t, move on from your past. Forgive people who have hurt you, and stop letting them take up your time, your thoughts, and your energy. All of those things are too valuable to be taken up by people and things that do not serve you.
Today, be kind to yourself. Go for a run, read a good book, eat your favorite ice cream. Call your best friend or your parents, make that recipe you’ve been dying to try from Pinterest, volunteer. Write down all of those things you’ve always wanted to do, and go do them.
Why not?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bikram reflections: Days four and five of my 30 day challenge

Well,  so far I am five-for-five in my 30 day challenge, and as I'm writing this post, I'm preparing for class number six.

The last two classes have been pretty awesome. In a way I've never really experienced before, both classes felt like they went pretty quickly, and I actually kind of enjoyed every series of both of them. Bow (the pinnacle posture of the spine strengthening series) felt really strong both days, and I was kind of proud of how much better it looked and felt. Bow, just so you know what I'm talking about, eventually looks like this:

I am also finding that my practice is starting to feel like the "moving meditation" that it claims to be. I definitely am starting to fall into the rhythm of the practice, and I think that's probably what has been most helpful in making the 90 minutes enjoyable each day.

Scheduling myself time for my practice each day has been great. I love how Bikram makes me feel, how it makes me look, and that it gives me time daily to focus on myself. I'm sure I've blogged about this before, but I think that we sometimes forget how important it is to set aside time for ourselves each day. I don't just mean time to workout, I mean time to let all of our other responsibilities take a breather for a hot second (literally hot, in this case) and just let our mind have a break. We're all so busy all the time, and we sometimes forget that taking a breather is necessary too.

Here's to class number six.. after today, I'll be a fifth of the way there!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bikram reflections: Starting my 30 day challenge

I started my 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge three days ago -- and I am three for three so far! I'm doing my own little 30 day challenge for several reasons. Obviously, first and foremost, for my health -- to see what 30 straight days of getting my 90 minutes in the hot room can do for me. Then, it goes without saying that the competitive part of my personality thrives off of challenges. I've also been neglecting my practice a little bit lately, so it's definitely long overdue for me to kick it back into gear.

I'll be trying to reflect on my practice daily on this blog, but figured I would go ahead and combine the first three days. My three classes were all at different times (7:15pm, 8:15pm, and 6:00am), with different class sizes (five people in the 7:15 class, a full room during the 8:15 class, and then probably about 10 people in the 6:15 class), and with three different teachers. Here are my thoughts so far:

  • I was really distracted during the 7:15 small class, when a gentleman was breathing really heavily throughout the practice. I did realize that this probably means I need to work on focusing on my own breathing, and not letting little things distract me.
  • Holy cow is standing separate leg stretching pose hard. I always thought it was difficult (even though it looks like it would be one of the easiest poses), but after being away for so long, it's gotten even harder.
  • The 8:15 class is for beginners. There's a lot of people, a lot of fidgiting, and a lot of groaning. Again, reminded that I need to work on focusing internally instead of externally.
  • Conversely, the 6:00am class is for more experienced yogis. There's a lot less water drinking, and a whole lot more "class energy" propelling you through the series.
  • The 6:00 class is also nice because I think it's too early for your brain to be awake. It makes it a lot easier to make the practice your "moving meditation" and control how much your mind wanders.
  • I can do the whole spine strengthening series!! Yeah, it hurts, but I can do it, and I'm confident that I'll be doing locust correctly in no time :)
  • Sometimes, increased humidity is worse than increased heat. More on this later, I'm sure.
Anyways, just wanted to get this up before I head to work. Always nice to start my day with a Bikram class :)