Bikram: A like story Part 2 (The Benefits!)

As I established in my last post, I’ve been practicing Bikram for almost six months. I go at least five times a week, rain or shine. I would go every single day in an ideal world, but sometimes life gets in the way. It’s a heck of a time commitment. The class itself is an hour and a half long and I like to get there a good twenty minutes early to snag a good spot. Plus, on days when I feel especially beat, I stay in savasana (the final relaxation pose, basically laying on the ground on your back) (ps- don’t I sound so wordly using the sanskrit word? pat me on the back) for ten whole minutes. With the commute to and from class and the mandatory shower afterwards, that’s a good 3 hours.

So you see? That’s almost 20 percent of my waking day time. I’m a fairly lazy person. It’s rare to see me devote that amount of time to anything I’m not getting paid for. I can’t even focus on TV for more 2 hours at a time. So, my dear reader(s), you may have concluded that there must be something I gain from this activity. I must be getting paid in some form, right?

Gosh, you’re smart.

So here they are. The things Bikram yoga have done for me.

1. Insomnia: Gone!

A couple of times a month, I’d have a spell of three or four sleepless nights in row. I’d lay in bed, after a long day of feeling completely exhausted, and just stay awake. One thought turned into twelve simultaneous thoughts, which then turned into massive frustration and bargaining with whatever god was up there to just allow me some rest. A couple of weeks into my yoga practice and this pesky problem went away.

2. Scoliosis: Much better!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a moderate case of scoliosis. My spine is shaped like an “S”. My hips and waist are asymmetrical and my ribs are a bit twisted to the right. I could write posts and posts about the insecurity, stress, and money this has caused me over the years (and I probably will). Anyway, with six months of consistent practice, the asymmetry significantly lessened. I gained a half-inch in height. My lower back muscles are more even, whereas before, the muscles to the left where more pronounced than those on the right. My hips and waist appear more even and the twist has corrected itself a bit. I still have a way to go, but the progress gives me hope. I must mention, however, that you must be consistent with the practice. Take a break for a week or two and your body may start to hold itself in the old way.

3. Posture: better!

I hold myself taller and I’m more aware of my body. Slouching just doesn’t feel right anymore.

4. Mental Health: good!

I’m generally a moody gal. You know, the kind that battles with crippling depression and insecurity on a regular basis. Crying alone on my closet floor, Fiona Apple, and chocolate binges were a big part of my life. Sometimes I would just feel so overwhelmed with emotion and fear that I could barely breathe.  I had to meditate daily to keep my moods a bit at bay. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel more peaceful, stable, and secure nowadays. A couple big challenges came up over the past six months (including a major loss and a move across the country without a steady job lined up) and I was able to handle them with ease. I still binge on chocolate and listen to Fiona Apple, but the crying alone on the floor thing is saved for more tragic circumstances.

5. Digestion: improved!

I had a plethora of food intolerances: wheat, corn, sugar, caffeine, soy, peanuts, all other nuts. If I ate any of that stuff, I’d get eczema or some sort of mood swing. Now I can eat all that stuff (minus the wheat and peanuts) and be ok. I do try to limit sugar and caffeine, mainly because I swear that stuff is poison, but they don’t affect me the way they once did. I’m no doctor or nutritionist, but I believe food allergies and intolerances are a case of leaky gut syndrome (google it). Bikram got my intestines working in a more pristine fashion.

6. Self acceptance and body awareness

I feel more present in my body, rather than living most of my of life in my head. I’m aware and accepting of my physical strength and my limitations. I know when to push myself and I know when to allow my body to rest. I feel confident enough to practice in a sports bra and tiny shorts. That in itself is a milestone.

7. Superficial stuff: hot dog!

My butt is firm, my thighs are defined, and my arms are tight. I also bike to and from yoga, which may also attribute to this.

If all that doesn’t send you running to your nearest Bikram studio, then I don’t know what to tell you. Do whatever you want, that’s what.

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