Bikram Yoga: The Sequence, Not The Name

Eagle Pose Garuasana
Photo by Bodhi Me

Everyone practises yoga for very different reasons. Some people see it as an exercise to compliment their regular other cardio exercise. I got into Bikram Yoga and kept up with the practice for very different reasons. At the beginning, I was travelling for work and away from home four nights every week so I wanted to find a hobby after work. My aunts have been raving about hot yoga for months. They have toned up their bodies, felt a lot about better about themselves and enjoyed their new-found flexibility.

There was a Bikram Yoga studio in the city centre when I worked away from home. There was a tempting intro offer. I didn’t have much to lose. My first class was dreadful but I had already paid for the intro offer so I would have been missing out if I didn’t go back. So I went back again, again and again. Little had I known that this yoga practice was getting me ready for what was about to come in my life.

I have been practising for six months before my longest relationship breakup. Wow, I had even more time in my hands. What was I going to do with myself with all this extra time? How do I take my mind off things? Bikram Yoga took up at least 2.5 hours of my day (by the time I got to the studio, changed and showered afterwards). There was no way I could balance with one leg in class with sweat dripping down my face and eyes if I didn’t focus in the moment and forget about everything else outside the room. Yes, I fell out of postures a gazillion times. It didn’t matter. Going to class became a ritual. I was on auto-pilot to arrive on my mat. After a few months, life outside of the room got easier even though the practice was still tough.

Was that it? No, I fell down the stairs about a year later and really hurt my lower back. I tried to practise at first but was in too much pain. After a few weeks, I went back and the practice helped me with the pain and I was more mobile.

One month after my last physio session, I had a car accident and was in lots of agony for months. I couldn’t sit up straight for more than ten minutes at a time at the beginning but got better over time with physiotherapy. I went back to practise after three months for 3-5 times a week. I had an altered sequence to start with. I was so scared to go back because my ego was yelling at me. How could I look at myself in the mirror, seeing my much-reduced mobility and flexibility? It was heart breaking. Thank you to my amazing teachers Sue and Jane from Bikram Yoga Fleet, as they gave me a set of amended postures for class. All of the teachers were kind and looked after me. I couldn’t believe how much faster my recovery was within a month and how much better I felt. That first month was a magical turning point for me.

From then on, I kept up with the practice regularly to help ease my lower back pain. The sequence saved me more than once, physically and emotionally.

I have never gone to a Bikram class for the infamous man. I don’t care how many cars and watches he had and what his jokes were. I turned up time and time again for very selfish reasons. I don’t know how my life would have turned out if I had not found this sequence. I am a lot more centred, appreciate more of the little things in life, more patient (yes, a little bit) and developed my inner strength to overcome the biggest challenges in my life. The practice has made me believe that if I set my intention to something, maybe just one day I will achieve my goal. The practice has helped me release and let negative things go.

I am thankful to Bikram Choudhury for creating this sequence and bringing this to the West. I am thankful to all of the teachers who have learned and gone onto teacher training to spread the word and heal broken bodies. I am thankful to all of the students who turn up day in, day out and practise this sequence. Without all of you, I would never have found this yoga. Without all of you, I would not have found this amazing community and be able to share the energy during the practice. I would not be so lucky to have such a vast range of yoga studios and classes to practise in. Without all of you, I would never have founded Bodhi Me.

Let me be very clear here. I do not condone what the founder of this practice has done. It was clearly wrong and very upsetting.

I understand those who have shirked away from this sequence because of the association with the name. If you have never tried Bikram Yoga, give it a go for its benefits and not the name. I am not afraid to say that I practise Bikram Yoga and I like it, because it helped heal me in more ways than one.

Let’s keep this practice going for all the good it brings for people like me. Let’s keep spreading the name of the sequence for what it is, because we don’t have anything to be ashamed of.

Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga?  What are your thoughts on the sequence?  Please share in the comments below:

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