Today is my six-year Bikram anniversary. I’m in love with it. I can’t get enough. I jumped up out of bed at 5:30 this morning so excited to get my first class of the sixth year! I’m all giddy over this shit. It is addicting, it is a cult, it is the best thing I have ever done.
Last week I was asked what Bikram Yoga has done for me. I casually remarked, “have you seen my legs?” But the truth is that Bikram Yoga as completely changed my life.
I went into the Silverlake studio six years ago, took the 4:30 class. I had a friend who had been practicing for a while and I noticed a huge difference in his body. He had become a lean mean hunk of flexible man, not the flabby stiff old person he was just three month prior. I thought I would give it a try.
After my first ten days of Bikram I had to shop for smaller pants.
I practiced every morning with Big Diane – she was the bomb. She would pick me up at the ass crack of dawn and we would zip off in her silver bubble car to yoga. We were yoga buddies. We rarely did anything together but yoga. It was great to have a friend who I could count on to always get there with me. We went every day. We never said we were doing challenges but we went every day. Once in a while I would go twice during the day. When big Diane moved to Vegas I started walking to yoga, shortly after I started practicing at the downtown LA studio.
While I was at the Silverlake Studio Lauren, an awesome yoga teacher, stood on my back while I tugged and pulled, stretched, and exhaled trying to put my forehead on my toes. I was all straightened out there on the floor, forehead inches from my toes, Lauren jumping on my spine. Everyone watched. My head hasn’t touched my toes yet but it will soon, of this I am certain. Any day now, tomorrow maybe!
Six years ago I fell in love with Bikram.
Two years ago one of my dear friends went to teacher training.
I have lost a lover, a client, and my sister stopped talking to me (while I was staying at her place) because I took them to yoga. I guess they missed that I took them because I cared about them. Even the client. It is tempting to use yoga as a way to torture clients, very tempting indeed.
The downtown LA studio offered a big comphy area for sitting , they had beverages, showers and stickers on the wall next to your name if you were doing a challenge. I have done several 30, 60 and 90 day challenges over the years.
At the downtown studio I fell in love with the heat.
There was a crazy yoga teacher named Ziggy, he would run through the dialogue like an auctioneer. I loved his classes. Sadly he was canned – I think. He stopped teaching there and I never got a chance to see his punk band. If you know where Ziggy is please hook me up with the 411. I would love to take a class from him.
Now at Jim and Emma’s SD studio. It is wicked hot here. In most studios you get the promised 105, if you’re lucky. Jim and Emma have managed to make it at least ten to fifteen degrees hotter at their place. They have a steam room and Evil Asian Joe, my current favorite yoga teacher. Joe barks the Bikram dialogue at us, scaring us into the postures. He has a bright pink yard-stick that he carries around. If your posture is wrong he will whack you a little to get you to put your feet, head, or hands in the right position. Joe is a very intense yoga teacher.
It’s not your grandma’s yoga!
When I travel I visit the local Bikram studios. I have been to at least 50 of them over the years. The classes are designed to be the same no matter where you go. Sure there are little differences but the postures and the order you do them in are always the same. It is designed for beginners, so anyone can do it. But after six years it is still very challenging.
So what has this yoga really done for me?
I’m lean and strong
I have a tremendous ability to withstand unpleasant things
I have developed the capacity to cope with very hot temperatures
My mind and body are flexible
I’m very healthy
My skin is soft
I like to breathe
I drink a lot of water
I have developed a sense of inner well being that I don’t let on to very often but I feel grounded, even in my confused haze, I feel like this yoga focuses me, keeps me on track with my goals, allows me to do what I feel good about doing, keeps me fit, and generally brings a level of Zen to my life that I would not otherwise have.
Practicing yoga every day keeps me from being a loony, I don’t get caught up in a lot of the drama because I can center myself, breathe, and understand that in the scope of time, the irrelevance of human created time frames, I can do anything for ten seconds. And what is an unpleasant situation but several increments of ten seconds strung together?
I’m stronger, more self-disciplined, more capable of taking on the world, also I’m fuckign hot as hell!
Happy yoga birthday to me!