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I just finished a month of Bikram Yoga

Peyem2010-07-04 16:09:54 +0000 #1
First off, hello, I'm new.

I'll give a brief background about me and yoga. I've been going to the gym doing the typical western workout for about 2 years. Several months ago I met a good friend that is really into Bikram, and she brought me to try a class, I had never tried any yoga prior to that. At the time I couldn't continue going. One month ago, I signed up for a trial month at a Bikram studio in my town, and I went 3 days a week for the past 4 weeks. That brings me to current time.

The good: I'm more flexible and balanced (physically), my normal gym workout saw improvements with my focus and posture, I've seriously re-thought my diet and am changing it to what I think is better.

The bad: I'm very concerned about the potential over-training aspects of Bikram yoga. I've learned in my normal gym routine, that if you leave feeling like you've been kicked in the face and it takes a couple hours (or even a full night's sleep) to recover, you over did it. That's the sensation I get about half the time with Bikram. While Bikram may be good, I get the feeling that it's too much of a good thing. It's the same way I feel about marathon runners. Just because you can do it doesn't mean it's good for you.

I don't really know anything about the poses or the philosophy. I can do most of them ok. Some hurt though, and it's of the "I shouldn't do that" variety of pain. And the teacher says that is ok and to push yourself further. That raised a red flag to me. I'm also of the personality type that has no problems pushing myself way too far.

Anyway, I like the benefits I've gotten, but I'm unsure about paying for a 2nd month. I'm realizing I basically answered my own question by typing this, but does anyone have any thoughts about this? I'm completely ignorant about the other types of yoga, but I'd like to continue something of that nature.


InnerAthlete2010-07-04 16:25:05 +0000 #2
It's a hotly contested topic, no pun intended.

I think the question that often comes up for me logically is this:

How might one feel spending 90 minutes in a sweat lodge doing jumping jacks, sit-ups, and pushups?

I suspect that a commitment to such a practice would also leave one feeling flexible, strong, devoid of "toxins", and "in-shape". However it is fairly obvious that while all things ARE yoga there isn't much yoga to the sweat lodge scenario I present. Can it be done yogically? Sure. So can dying.

My point? The practices you mention do have a certain element of rigor and a certain element of "fitness" as you are using large muscles and that in and of itself has positive chemical results in the human body. However I find the practice you mention to have a certain absence of compassion for the practitioner and while I DO see leaner muscle mass, my definition of yoga, based on all of the classical yoga texts, is whether the person's relationships change as a result of the practice. If your relationship with your Self, with others, and with the planet are changing for the better then the practice is serving a mindful evolutionary purpose as yoga is intended to.

So the question isn't "can I lose weight doing this" nor is it "can I purge toxins" as those things are possible in a myriad of ways, none of which require Yoga to be present.

I would never ask, tell, or request that a student move through something, push, or generally ignore their body and its messages. I believe that to be a very dangerous life paradigm which follows students off the mat into their daily lives (as Yoga should).

Instead I prefer to teach from compassion and present yoga to students in such a way that those who need to move more are encouraged to do so while those like yourself who are constantly pushing would be asked to back off. That is an approach of balance - not one-size-fits-all.

All this having been said, I fully accept that some students may have a life contract that mandates they do this yoga or that yoga. We all have our purpose here and unfortunately some people learn best from abuse and injury.
Peyem2010-07-04 16:30:51 +0000 #3
I think I understand what you're saying. I know that personally I can be motivated and improved by a certain degree of punishment -- to a point. After a certain amount of time of doing anything I always stop to question things, the most common being, "why am I doing this?"

I certainly have some masochistic traits, which I think is what initially pulled me into this specific type of yoga. I've also gotten far more philosophical recently with daily meditation and keeping a journal, all of which I started far before Bikram, so I don't think I can attribute it to that. My conclusions have been that while I do have some masochism in me, it may not be the wisest plan to feed it, which could lead to a self-destructive future. I've created similar situations in the past.

If I ignore the physical gains of Bikram (which like you said could be found elsewhere), I don't see much reason to go in there and beat myself up. At best the heat increases my focus so that I can ignore the sweat and discomfort potentially improving my daily life, at worst it makes me angry and builds stress and self-doubt, especially on days that I'm tired and don't feel like I did a very good job, or I didn't push myself hard enough (my not-always-supportive inner monologue).

Anyway, I'm glad I did the trial run, but I don't think I'll be going back to that studio. The gym I go to has a variety of yoga classes which I think I will investigate. On their schedule, they have: Anusara, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Pranayama, and then others simply labeled "Yoga level I" "Yoga level II". I'm not sure what that means.

I really don't know what each type is or which one could best suit me. Does anyone have any advice based on how I described myself above? I'm also very tall, skinny, and 25 years old. I don't know if that makes a difference or not.

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