I am one week into my 30 days’ Bikram yoga challenge and so far, I love it! I have more energy, I feel better about myself and my sleep quality has been great. I have started to be much more disciplined to be in bed by 10:30pm at the latest, as my body starts falling asleep at around 9pm. Here is my experience of the second week into my 30 days’ challenge.
Day 8: Thursday 8th September
I practised in Laura’s 6:30am class again in Chiswick and I felt slightly weak. I really focused on my alignment as I noticed that my muscles are starting to feel tighter. I also felt really hungry throughout class. I do not normally eat before an early morning class as it is so early and I don’t want to wake up at 4:15am just to eat 2 hours before class. It got me thinking that I should eat something small before an early morning practice. I have not drunk any water during a Bikram class for years and on that morning, I really wish I had some to feel slightly fuller, even though I knew I didn’t need it.
I didn’t feel as euphoric as Days 5 to 7 but I felt ok throughout the day. I decided to eat more during the day and that evening so that I would not feel as hungry for the 6:15am class on Day 9 class.
Day 9: Friday 9th September
If you follow numerology, you may have been aware that 2016 is a powerful 9 year and the date of 9th September 2016 represents 9999 which means a number culminations and celebrations, beginnings and endings as well as releases. We also have 2 eclipses this month and generally, things which no longer serve us are eclipsed from our lives. They may not be instantaneous but they can happen from a few days before to a few months after.
I went into my class knowing this and was ready to release whatever no longer serves me and welcome the new in my practice. I have been feeling good up until Day 9 so far and there was no reason for me to doubt that I would have a good class. In fact, it was going to a brilliant class as I could just detox and release during this class. How wrong was I to have these expectations at my 6:30am class as I started the practice wanting to fidget and my mind was so busy. I couldn’t believe how noisy my mind was as I only woke up an hour ago. I kept trying to tell myself that I can do these postures and to focus on myself by looking at myself in the mirror and breathing, yet my busy mind was winning.
We approached the standing separate leg forehead to knee posture and Laura started the dialogue. Laura and other Chiswick teachers do not ever say this but some teachers would say that this posture does not start if the forehead does not touch the knee. I always know at the back of my mind that I need to try and touch my forehead on my knee and the teachers encourage us to try. The negative talk started taking over in my mind and I ended up crying in that class as I gave myself a hard time asking why I couldn’t do this. I try so hard every time and I think I kind of touched my forehead on my knee a little bit on Day 6 during an evening class. Why was this not happening for me?
I felt like I had two voices in my head: one which was critical and the other one consoling me. I know I had an injury. I know that postures change over time. I know I should be kind to myself and I just have to breathe through it. I told myself it was ok… but it wasn’t ok. I tried to carry on practising the subsequent postures and only managed to calm myself down when we only had 2 postures left to go.
After class, I had a chat with my teacher Laura and she advised that I needed to be kinder to myself. My body was obviously going to be stiffer early in the morning. She gave me suggestions to help stretch my spine to improve on the posture. Yoga is a practice and not about perfection. Laura also said that my spine is quite long comparatively, which would make it harder for me to touch my forehead on my knee. I felt so much better after the chat. It was a hard lesson to learn not to have expectations before coming to class.
Tomorrow was another day and I have another chance to practise. I had some coconut water and felt better. I felt a bit miserable for the rest of the Friday and had to keep reminding myself that what was done, was done.
Day 10: Saturday 10th September
Saturday felt significant for me as I turned into double digit on this 30 days’ challenge. I would be one-third of my way through this and actually, it hasn’t been so bad so far. I knew that today is a different day and if I was to learn anything from Day 9, it was not to have any expectations but to arrive on my mat.
Day 10 was a much more enjoyable class. I practised next to my friend in class and afterwards, we had a chat about my challenge. She has also completed it and she ended up doing 36 consecutive days as she was worried what would happen if she didn’t carry on. I already had this slight concern in my head. I tried not to think too much about it.
During the day, I realised that I needed to drink a lot more and I started not wanting to eat very much anymore. All I wanted was fruits and vegetables, especially mangoes, apples, peppers and lettuce. I no longer wanted to eat noodles and I love noodles. I had a combination of water, coconut water, juice, herbal teas and I drank about 5 litres of liquid that day in addition to lots of vegetables and fruit that I ate. I felt a lot lighter that day. Perhaps it was to do with the emotional release and ten consecutive days of Bikram yoga. Perhaps it’s both.
Day 11: Sunday 11th September
I visited my yoga home Bikram Yoga Fleet for a 9am class and was taught by lovely Jane in a hot and busy class. I really enjoyed my practice that morning as I now no longer have any expectations over the practice when I arrive on the mat. I felt that my breath was short a couple of times, in which I missed a couple of second sets but all in all, I felt focused and energised during the class.
It was a pleasure practising alongside Mei who is also a Bikram yogi except much more elderly than me and she was also on her Day 11 of her 30 days’ Bikram yoga challenge. She inspired me to believe that if she can do this, so can I.
I suppose I arrived at the studio happy anyway as it is my yoga home and the teachers are always so welcoming. It was lovely to see the new yoga room and I couldn’t wait to practise there again.
The teachers advised that I might not notice any difference in my practice during the 30 days but the difference may come later. They also said that my challenge might start going very quickly after the half way point. I have heard that before but somehow I have this slight worry in my head. I tried not to think too much about it or let it get to me.
Before leaving the studio, I had some coconut water and now asking myself whether I really needed it or whether this was all in my head. I had a light lunch at my friends’ house which was soup and bread but didn’t feel full enough before going on a 3 miles’ walk with their dog. I felt really tired and a bit weak during my walk. I noticed how big an impact my liquid and food consumption is affecting me now and it is more than usual. I had some food fruit and herbal tea again at 3:00pm and felt a lot better.
Day 12: Monday 12th September
I went into this week believing that my challenge will go faster during the week as my Mondays to Fridays are about fitting yoga in with a very busy working life. I decided to practise at 6:30am Monday to Friday this week, which can be seen as a challenge in itself but I realised how good I feel practising in the morning compared to the evening.
Monday’s class was taught by Rachel and I haven’t been taught by Rachel very much before this challenge. Rachel gave me some good advice in class and I enjoyed my start to the working week.
I decided to try and eat a little bit more to ensure I don’t feel too hungry anytime during the day. I am now drinking 4 to 5 litres of water every day and noticed how much softer my skin is from sweating so much each day. My hips are starting to feel tighter a bit sore and I am happy to notice things happening in my body to improve my strength, flexibility and overall health.
I started thinking that my challenge might start to feel like slowing down after the half way point but I am trying not to entertain that fear much. I am taking each day as it comes.
Day 13: Tuesday 13th September
Tuesday 6:30am class at Chiswick taught by Andy was unbelievably busy and I enjoyed sharing my practice with other Bikram yogis who were all experienced in this practice. My right hip is starting to feel a bit sorer. I loved the energy Andy brought into this class and I kept thinking that it felt like an afternoon or early evening class because of how busy it was and also because of how awake I felt. I couldn’t believe how awake I was!
This was the hottest September on record for a long period of time and it was lovely practising so early in the morning. Andy brought our energy up and it was lovely to see a fellow yogi Laura starting her 30 days’ challenge on my Day 13. Andy is getting to know my postures and it was lovely to get advice from him on specific things like eagle pose and balancing stick pose which I hadn’t noticed before.
Day 14: Wednesday 14th September
It’s already mid-week and I am back in Rachel’s class at 6:30am this morning. I can’t believe that I have completed 2 weeks of Bikram yoga consecutively. My right hip feels tighter but it’s ok and I feel lighter. I suppose my hip will continue to be sore throughout the rest of the challenge. Rachel said that Bikram said in training that different things will unravel during the challenge and peel off like an onion. I am looking forward to the future days and seeing what else will unfold. I found a few postures challenging this morning as I felt weak and reminded myself that I need to eat a small apple or some nuts with my herbal tea before leaving home every morning.
This morning, Rachel took a photo of me in locust pose with 2 legs up which I have never seen myself in before, as I needed to be faced down. I was pleasantly surprised by how high my legs were and Rachel gave me great advice to keep pushing my shoulders down. It made me remember how I felt and what I must have looked like when I first practising locust pose. It made me believe that with time and practice, things will come. I have more faith in future years of having a stronger practice.
Tomorrow will mark the half way point of my challenge and I am a bit worried about what the challenge will be like between Days 16 and 30. I worry that time will drag on. Let’s hope not. I will try and focus on just arriving on my mat day by day and seeing what my body can do.
Have you ever attempted a Bikram 30 days’ challenge? I would love to hear your experience and thoughts.