Healing Your Mind & Body
Let’s start with some goofy haikus inspired by Bikram yoga:
HOT, sweaty stretching
how will I make it through this
one breath at a time
Breathing so deeply
moist warm air is a blanket
wrapping me anew
The hardest part about writing a testimonial for Bikram yoga practice at Pure Hot Yoga St. Louis is how to not write a book. I have become a yoga freak, preaching about how this yoga is the best thing in the world and how everyone should try it. People are getting sick of hearing me say, “If you practiced Bikram yoga you would feel better.”
When I first came in January of 2004, I was a mess. I had severe post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, as well as an immune system dysfunction. After being a successful person for decades, I had completely fallen apart and had become non-functional.
All the trauma — childhood and adult sexual abuse, the murder and suicide of friends and more — came crashing in on me. I was desperately trying everything I could to heal myself when I came upon a testimonial for Bikram yoga, and the person who wrote it had been through many of the same things as myself. I thought I had tried everything else, so why not this?
I need to mention I went back on medication to reduce nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, etc. But in addition to this, I started a practice of Bikram yoga as often as I could, and had periods where I was sick and had to lay off for weeks, but then would keep going back.
In my first class I was such a baby! I had a phobia about sauna-like atmospheres because I always feel like I will pass out. I cannot imagine what my teachers thought of me when I first walked into the studio, and then came running out, asking if I felt faint could I please leave the room! During that first class I felt like I was going to die and could barely get through it, I was so weak, but 7 months later, I make it through class just fine, and have come to crave this yoga. Now I cannot wait to get into the room and feel the deep heat. If I go more than a few days without it, I feel it and cannot wait to get back in.
In general I am calmer, handle stress better, breathe more deeply, and live through the nightmares better. I also lost my mother unexpectedly 2 months ago, an extremely devastating loss for me, and am working through the grief on top of everything else thanks to this amazing yoga. I know that if my mom had tried this yoga a year or two ago she would still be here. And so every time I enter the studio, I dedicate my practice to her.
There are no words really to describe the experience of Bikram yoga. I had seriously practiced other styles of yoga off and on for years, but never felt the moments of intense bliss and sense of aliveness that I now experience.
My old martial arts foot injuries are almost all healed. Periods are no longer painful as long as I practice regularly, and my mind and body are gradually healing. There is no quick fix for the types of challenges I face, and I found that looking for them is an illness in and of itself.
Also, many people claim to be able to heal a person of deep-seated trauma through working with the mind, but I discovered that the more I worked with my mind, the sicker and more traumatized I got on all levels. It is working with both body and mind in class that I feel I have finally found a practice that sustains, nourishes, and heals me, and gives me hope when I am hurting. The best part is I am healing myself instead of looking for someone else to fix me.
I love the heat, the challenge, the way the experience of my mind and body changes each time, even though the postures are the same every time. I love the relaxation, the deep breathing, deep stretching, and releasing of tension, the incredible sense of cleansing and the gradual lightness and freedom my body is starting to experience. I love to challenge myself each time — even in the agony of trying to hold a pose, I am deeply grateful. I cannot say enough about this practice.
The teachers of Pure Hot Yoga St. Louis are amazing and inspiring, the atmosphere is sacred and safe to me. I am so grateful to be sharing my practice with them.
Finally, I need to say that I love and believe in this practice so deeply that I am willing to drive twice a week to the nearest studio, which is 112 miles away. (I would go more often if I had time but I do have to work!) Some people think I am crazy but it is crazy not to do it.
Give it a try for at least a couple months and see what happens. Be open to anything and everything. Good luck and happy sweating.