Here are some of the benefits I enjoyed from my Bikram 30 day challenge: Weight loss of 7 pounds, I wanted to lose 10 but the challenge definitely gave me the jump-start I needed and now I know I will be able to keep going and loose those last few pesky pounds of belly fat. I feel better and have more energy. My digestive system is working better and I’m sure that’s a combination of all the yoga and cutting out junk food as well. I definitely advanced my practice; I’m going deeper in many postures and I’m often able to hold the balancing postures for the entire posture. This is the most progress I’ve made since my first year. During my first year of Bikram I learned a lot and progress came in leaps and bounds but during my second year I feel like my practice plateaued and that’s part of why I wanted to do this challenge. Well, I wasn’t disappointed; the challenge has propelled my practice through any imaginary ceiling! Here are some random things that I discovered during my Bikram 30 day challenge: I enjoy starting my day with yoga at 6am because I feel great all day! I can sleep like a kid again. I can control my sweet tooth. I am finally able to do Pranayama breathing without sounding like an old man snoring (that only took two years!). Doing a double is enjoyable and can lead to a breakthrough. Bikram yoga really is amazing and whatever you put into it you get back 100 fold. If you’re considering doing the Bikram 30 day challenge I highly recommend it, you will definitely advance your practice, gain a sense of achievement and learn a thing or two about yourself along the journey. It truly is a journey, filled with ups and downs and challenges along the way but worth every minute (and every drop of sweat)!! So what’s next for me? My biggest fear about doing the challenge was that I would get burned out on yoga. Well that definitely didn’t happen. If anything the opposite happened, I think I’m more addicted to yoga than ever and that’s a good thing. Going forward I’m going to aim for 5 classes per week instead of my old average of 3 classes per week. I think that’s the sweet spot. I also want to thank all of you for your support, advice and encouragement over the last 30 days, it really means a lot to me and I feel like I’ve made some new friends along the way! I’m going to keep my blog going and continue giving updates on my yoga journey. ~Yoga Dad
Friday, 6am class
My yoga marathon of the previous 24 hours has really wiped me out. Eight hours of sleeping like a baby was just not enough as I force myself out of my warm bed at 4:50am. As I take my dog outside in the frigid dark I feel tired to the bone. Even my eyes hurt as if I only slept a couple of hours. It takes all of my will power not to crawl back into my cozy bed but this is day 30 of my challenge and there’s no stopping me now.
I won’t lie, this was not one of my best classes. Any hope of ending the challenge with an all out, superman, king of the yoga world finish is quickly doused as I struggle through the opening breathing excersise just trying to stay present. My mind wanders, anxious to finally complete this thing. My body does no better than my mind, struggling to find balance as we progress through the postures. The final 90 minutes of what has been a 2,700 minute challenge seem to crawl by. I can hear a clock ticking in my brain and it’s ticking in slow motion. Time stands still as I sweat out every last drop of perspiration my body has left. Several times I catch myself going into the next posture only to realize we still have a second set to do. Apparently I’m not the only one absent mentally as at one point our teacher remarks, “what’s going on, do you all have a hot date after class?”.
I hear my mind saying, “I just want a day off” and “I just want to sleep in”. I’m so close now I can barely stand it. The last few postures take an eternity but we finally arrive at the final breathing exercise and those last few exhales have never felt so good. I did it! I feel a true sense of accomplishment as my teacher congratulates four of us by name that have just completed the challenge. The rest of the class applauds.
I lay on my back in final savasana, my 30 day challenge complete. Just one more step in my yoga journey.
Today was better than yesterday. Back was less sore, felt focused mentally. Happy about losing 7 pounds and happy my back is letting me continue on.
I got this great piece of advice in a comment from Views from the Podium, who is a Bikram teacher and it really helped me today with the hands to feet pose, which is the posture I hurt my back in:
As luck would have it, I went from 4 classes of smooth sailing to a great big iceburg. 6am class and I’m in one of the first poses, hands to feet.
As I’m pulling (Bikram says pulling is the object of stretching) I feel a tweek in my lower left back and by tweek I mean it made me grimace and possibly grunt. It hurt. Like “oh sh*t, I just threw out my back” hurt. The thought instantly flashes through my mind that I won’t be able to finish the challenge, much less this class because I just threw out my back. I try not to panic.
My back and I have a lot of history. Bad history. I suffered from a bad back from my early thirties up until two years ago when I started Bikram. I think it resulted from lifting weights in my garage as a kid, unsupervised. Not good. This is what drove me to Bikram two years ago. Within weeks of starting Bikram my back pain subsided. I went from being in constant daily pain and being a candidate for back surgery to only experiencing occasional, very infrequent pain- often times after pushing myself too hard in yoga class but this was part of the process of healing my back.
This feels different though, this feels like the old days when I would throw my back out and be in horrible pain for a week or longer. The I need a doctor and medicine kind of pain. The I can’t get out of bed kind of pain. That hasn’t happened at all since I started Bikram. So, I press on today, having faith in the yoga. I gingerly continue through the next few postures. Luckily, the pain doesn’t stop me. After the initial jolt, the pain rapidly subsides to a manageable dull discomfort. I make it to the end of class. Hopefully I will be ok for tomorrow’s class. Hopefully I’ve dodged the iceburg!
I’ve reached the half way point but there is no celebrating today, only pain. It’s Thursday, 6am class and it’s one of, if not the hardest classes yet for me physically. As great as class was yesterday, today is the polar opposite. My lower back hurts and it doesn’t loosen up during class. Some days I start off class tight but feel loose after the first set of half moon and backward bending. Not today, today I feel tight for the whole 90 minutes. Today the hot room feels like a torture chamber. Today I feel like the Tin Man. Tomorrow will be better.
The 8 am Sunday class is packed, more so than usual. The combination of those doing the 30 day challenge plus all of the newbies with their new years resolutions is good for business. At least 60 students are crammed into the hot room, mat to mat with no space in between. An old Police song pops into my mind as I lay on my mat waiting for class to start, “packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes”.
Today was a challenge, mentally more so than physically. Some days the 90 minutes fly by, not today. I just wasn’t feeling it and the last half hour of class, during the floor series, I struggle to keep going. Most days I enjoy the heat, I welcome the heat and the sweat it brings, its cleansing, like working out inside a sweat lodge. I even find myself craving that feeling when I’m not in class but not today. Today the heat feels oppressive and I seem to sweat even more so than usual, if that’s possible. I power through to the end and try not to think that this is day 11 and I still have 19 days to go, oh no.