Article by Leeanne Ekland, covering the wellness beat and giving us the scoop on Bikram Yoga.
A Yoga Convert
I haven’t always been a believer in yoga. I’ve dabbled in it over the years but it wasn’t until I got pregnant and had a C-Section that I took a really serious look at it.
I signed up at a yoga studio conveniently situated a block away from my apartment and spent nearly every evening for about six months taking different classes, trying different styles and instructors. I experimented with traditional Hatha, Ashtanga, Power Flow and Kundalini. The time I spent allowed me to get back in touch with my body that felt completely hung out to dry after carrying a baby in it for nine months. I felt like I was on my way back to a semblance of what my body looked and felt like pre-pregnancy. I could feel the strength returning. And then we moved out of the area.
Having a baby changes everything. Duh. The days blend and merge into weeks and months. Fast forward three months and I had probably attended maybe three classes. I was going to the gym and taking dance and fitness classes, but I really missed the yoga. I missed the quiet. The ‘me’ time.
People who do Bikram Yoga are Mad – Aren’t They?
In my new ‘hood, I stumbled upon Vancouver Bikram Yoga in City Square on Cambie and 12th. It looked surprisingly inviting and the staff were friendly and appeared normal. I say that because I really thought that people who did Bikram Yoga were mad. Years ago, I took a class and swore on my life I would never do it again! The heat in the room was too intense. I sweat more than I had ever in my life and afterwards I was utterly exhausted. I discovered later that I was dehydrated beyond imagination as I couldn’t sleep that night. It felt like I had a bit of heatstroke. The next morning I was sore, having overstretched my body beyond what is was used to. I had neglecting to replenish vital nutrients the rest of that day and I was paying a heavy price. I thought I had done myself harm.
Never say Never
Being the risk-taker that I am, I decided to take the plunge and give it a go, even though I had sworn on my life I would never do that again. I needed to shake things up, and felt confident I could handle it this time. I had six months of more traditional yoga under my belt and felt much stronger. I had been hearing more about Bikram Yoga classes lately and was intrigued by the idea that I could detoxify and heal my body by practicing yoga in a hot room. The way my body was feeling, all tight and discombobulated, it was time to give it another try. So I signed up for a month.
Stay in the Room!
The first class was absolutely, unbelievably difficult. It was stinking hot and humid in that room. I thought I just might pass out from the heat, my heart was racing and I felt dizzy. I wanted to bolt a half dozen times. I felt weak. I drank a ton of water. I lay down a lot but I stayed in the room. The instructor made it very clear that as a beginner the only goal was to stay in the room, even if I had to lay down the entire 90 minutes. If she hadn’t said that, I probably would have left. It was the most difficult thing I think I had ever done up to that point in my life. Having a baby seemed minor compared to that. Sounds crazy, I know.
I’m on to Something
When I decided to write about my experience with Bikram Yoga, I imagined I would take a couple of classes in order to write a one-off article. I said this to Danny D., one of the founders of Bikram Yoga Vancouver and an instructor and he laughed. He said I needed to give it at least two months. I thought he was crazy. It wasn’t until my eighth class that I actually thought he might have a point. The ninth class was amazing! I felt good in that room. I felt like I was on to something that might just change my life.
That, is Bikram Yoga
Fast forward fifty classes later and I think he was right. I am near the end of my fifth month now, and practice four times a week on average. There are still times I want to bolt. More often though, I have days in which I thoroughly enjoy the heat. There are classes in which I feel I am making progress, and sometimes I think I’ve got to start from the beginning again. That is yoga. Every day is different, every body is different. And that is what is so wonderful. Accepting what is, not judging or comparing, just letting go.
This is an incredibly important skill to have and a difficult one to master. What I realize now is that I was pretty out of touch with my body when I tried Bikram Yoga the first time. I ignored the subtle signals that suggested I pushed too far. I didn’t listen when it told me to rest.
The Pretzel Lady has Nothing on Me
I have heard so many people say that they injured themselves doing yoga and so it’s not for them. I would say this. The real practice of yoga ‘requires’ a person to listen to the body. To honour it and not let ego get in the way. Worrying about what the pretzel lady is doing on the mat next to you just gets in the way of your own body’s truth. Patience really pays off when practicing yoga. Our minds are strong. We have to believe that.
No single activity has helped me regain strength more after my baby’s birth than yoga. I started six weeks post surgery and I’ve never looked back. I’ve tried nearly every type of yoga and made progress but it wasn’t until I tried Bikram that I felt I had really found the answer to my prayers. I am not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I understand now what faith is. I know practicing Bikram Yoga will bring me home. Home to a stronger, leaner and fitter self.
Stay tuned, as I share more of my experiences in Bikram Yoga in future articles!
Leeanne Ekland is a stay-at-home mom of one, who’s on a mission to rediscover love, wellness, and neighbourhood happenings, and to have a ton of fun. She’s blogging about her experiences at leeanneekland.com. Having started the parenting experience much later than most, she offers a unique perspective on the challenges and all that is amazing about being a new mom over 40. At least – she does when she’s not napping, which is something she does often.