Overall Wellness – A Beginner’s Perspective
I started Bikram yoga on February 10, 2007. Today, April 20, 2007 was my 52nd class. I still consider myself a beginner, but I am keenly aware of the progress I have made physically and psychologically. These changes continue to amaze me.
After years of daily running, biking, weight lifting and working out without stretching, I had all but retired any hope of flexibility. But when joint pain in my knees and perpetual nagging pain in my lower back and hamstrings began to interfere with sleeping and other enjoyable activities such as snow skiing, I decided to follow through on some advice and try yoga.
My initial concern was that Yoga would not be strenuous enough to maintain the cardiovascular conditioning I had developed through years of long distance running and biking. That fear was quickly alleviated after my first balancing stick pose. My heart was beating loud enough for the whole room to hear. And practicing asasnas in the heat also made it clear to me that Bikram yoga would enhance my cardio conditioning…and it has indeed. I am in much better shape today than I was two months ago when I was working out every day of the week without yoga.
But the benefits do not end with conditioning. That is but a fraction of the changes I have experienced. I have lost two inches from my waist. My doctor is amazed at how low my blood pressure is. My sleep is more refreshing, and I seem to need less. I still have aches and pains, but the frequency has diminished considerably. I feel better than I have in many many years. As I have said, I am still a beginner. There are challenges in each new class, just as there are in each new day. But I have come a long way…. at my first class I could not sit on my knees…I do so freely now…along with many other poses which were seemingly impossible for me just a few months ago.
There is more. I am also aware of the changes in my mind. For one, I am more calm now than I have ever been. The daily stresses of life and career continue…but my approach to dealing with them has changed. This is from class. Just as I have learned to use breath, awareness and patience in practicing asanas in the heat, I now do the same in my day to day life. Moreover, I have discovered a new self confidence which guides me to rely on strength and determination and not fear when facing challenges.
So it should not come as a surprise when I say that Bikram yoga has become a very important part of my life.
A word about the Bikram yoga in St. Louis. We are lucky to have a Bikram program in this city. The real core, or spirit, if you will, of this yoga is the way it is taught. And there are no finer, more dedicated, more generous humans than the teachers at Pure Hot Yoga St. Louis. In their very unique ways, they give of themselves day in and day out so that each student has the maximum opportunity to find ways to make this yoga work. I look forward to any class given by any of these teachers. I just wish we had more like them in our schools and workplaces.
I am still a beginner at this, and expect to continue with Bikram with my beginner’s mind for many years to come.