It’s been a little over three years since I started practicing Bikram Yoga. I had just run my 9th full marathon and along with feeling like I needed a change from all the running, my lower back had started to ache and it was preventing me from running like I was used to. A friend had recommended Bikram Yoga Natomas and told me how great she always felt afterwards. My first class was a blur that I don’t really remember besides thinking, “I run marathons, this should be easy!” It was far from easy, but I went back the next day, and that second class I felt like I was going to pass out and I remember sitting in the hallway after class feeling like my whole world was spinning while the instructor sat next to me to make sure I was okay. I kept going back because I loved how I felt later and because everyone there was so nice, it felt like I had a whole new set of friends. Three years later, and it’s never easy, but I definitely look forward to the heat and the challenge of the poses each time I go. Here are my top reasons to try hot yoga:
It forces you to look at yourself and say nice things. This is something I have always struggled with, and once I moved up to the front of the room right in front of the mirror where I had to look at myself to practice the poses it made me start to believe in myself (in other aspects of my life too).
It will help you with whatever aches and pains you may be dealing with. My back pain went away eventually, and if I don’t go at least three times a week my neck or back will start to have some sort of tension. Just taking the time to do the postures in the heat and let go of whatever I may be worrying about that day helps to ease the stress.
You will make amazing friends. I never thought I’d make so many supportive friends and I love talking to them every time I go to class. On a side note: when I went to run the Boston Marathon in 2015 my yoga friends were amazingly supportive – they helped me raise money to go, sent me off with a last celebration class before I left, and sent me texts and messages during my trip.
Yoga has helped my running tremendously, and I didn’t even realize it at first. It increases your strength, stamina, and flexibility, while also helping to reverse the effects of hard running (like muscle tightness and soreness). It is a great cross training activity, and a perfect recovery from races or running hard. Yoga forces you to be aware of your breathing and to keep it under control, which in turn, has helped with my running. Just like when I run, doing the poses teaches you that you are capable of so much more than you thought you could do. If you keep practicing you will get better.
Yoga teaches you to be in the present moment. Often, I will find myself thinking about something else during class and I have to remind myself to stop and focus on what I’m doing. I won’t say I don’t worry or stress at all, but it’s definitely helped make me do it less.
Bikram yoga is definitely a practice, and just like anything worthwhile it will be hard and challenging. My back pain that initially brought me in has never returned, and I’m better able to deal with stress. It’s helped my running, and I have made some great friends. I have always defined myself as just a “runner,” and I never thought I’d call myself a “yogi,” but I truly am – I love everything about it.