Bikram Yoga: Dear Bikram Butterflies

Before I start, I just wanted to say….

Halloween Yogi

HAPPY HALLOWEEN YOGIS!!!

NAMASTE!

Now that I’ve got that out of my system… the blog…

Soon after I started posting my very first blog on here about Bikram Yoga, Kerryalina from Bikram Butterflies came to read it and liked and commented on my posts which was great because I felt like I met someone who was enjoying the Bikram journey as much as I was!  A fellow Aussie too I might add 🙂

I’ve been following her and reading her blog every now and then and found her stories funny and inspirational but as you know I’ve been visiting here very haphazardly and sometimes not posting (and that means not reading) for a month or more so I hadn’t gone to her site for a while.

I just went online to read her blog again and felt compelled to respond but my response was huge… long….  longer than some of my blogs!!  So I decided I’d turn it into a blog and here it is.

You may want to read Kerryalina’s post which I’m responding to first so you know what this comment relates to.  I posted the response here because it does reflect on my experience as well as some discussions that me and Tones have had about whether or not doing “this much yoga” is actually good for us.  Plus when you see how long and how much I have to write, you’ll see why I thought it inappropriate for a “comment”!!

So, Bikram Butterflies, this one’s for you 🙂

As a fellow lover of Bikram Yoga… have you tried the Bikram Balance? We’re on it now, we drink it after every class, really helps nourish the body after the workout (hope it suits your dietary requirements. It’s made with and is equivalent to 15 servings of fruit and veg, keeps your body alkaline – might actually help the pain for your rubbing joints?  It does mine!).

Tones and I have experimented with this, drinking coconut water and just water, we even tried some Immune Boost drink by Arbonne but the Bikram Balance has helped us recover the best, we recover quickly, are energised and we eliminate all aches and pains for the day.  Tones even said to me the other day “I’ve never known any exercise that’s 1.5 hours long, burns 1000 calories, is as intense physically as Bikram Yoga that doesn’t leave you in pain afterwards.  This is the first type of exercise I’ve ever done that is this intense but leaves you feeling energised, healthy, flexible… and NO PAIN!”

I tell ya, he’s right.  Every time I went to the gym, even in my Ashtanga yoga days, I always felt that muscle ache, the sign that you pushed hard during a workout!  But we never experience any physical aches after Bikram Yoga when we’ve also drunk Bikram Balance.

We’ve been going to classes regularly (2-3 times or more a week) for 8 months now, so far so good but reading about your ailments and seeing that there is a possibility that practising a lot of Bikram yoga could lead to strange things like heart palpitations, over-stretched hips, imbalances in how the body processes nutrients… and who knows what else… in the future, kinda scares me!   I mean… could this be the pain that we’re not feeling??? Could it be that the pain comes later… MUCH later?  Sometimes if I haven’t drunk the Bikram Balance after class I feel twinges, sharp pains in my lower back and in my hip joint, in the socket… (which also clicks and clacks during class especially when I’m about to do a toe stand).  Could this be the beginnings of what you’ve got??!

After all, apart from what you feel after class, where’s the proof that doing that much Bikram yoga is actually good for you, in the long run say 30 years from now? Does doing yoga every day, sometimes twice a day, day in and day out, do more harm than good? Sure we feel great now but what happens later?  And if Bikram Balance was only created / released THIS year… what was everyone else doing to stop all those pains in the past??!!!  Did they feel pain?

Tones and I were discussing this and the truth is, none of us will know if it’s good for us in the long run until we get to that point!  I’ve seen clips on YouTube of 100 year old yogis being youthful and flexible and that inspires me to continue to do yoga but how many times did they practice a day and how long each day, what type of yoga did they do, what did they eat?  Did they take a break?  Did they get pains in their joints?  Of course you only see the result.   Their journey is never mentioned!

Bikram himself seems to be doing alright but how often does HE practice?  And.. what crap did he have to go through and what ailments did he suffer?

As for never being able to go and do Bikram yoga again – don’t believe the “never” there’s no such thing!  Bikram was told he could never walk again… he showed them where they could shove their “never”!

As for “Taking it Easy” – sounds like you’re not liking that one bit….

Our teacher said the other day, “This is a 5000 year practice and we’re all beginners.” Who knows, what if doing Bikram Yoga every day means we might all still be here in 1000 years?  And if that were the case, what does missing a few weeks / months mean in that grand scheme of things?

I’ve also heard them say, “This is yoga PRACTICE, not yoga perfect”.  Maybe my mind’s cheeky but I understand that to mean, I don’t need to push for perfect… EVER… I will only PRACTICE forever! LOL!

Maybe they’re gentler on us here in London, it’s been too long since my last Aussie class to remember how hard they push BUT we practice with teachers who have been teaching for over 12 years (some who’ve trained with and taught at the original Bikram studios in the US), we practice with Olympians and Asana champions (even celebrity chefs :P), pregnant women and women coming back from having a baby and I can tell you, as awesome and inspiring as they are when they do a beautiful practice, they ALL let you take it easy / take it easy themselves when needed! I’ve seen them take it easy!!

So, letting you know, that it’s OK to “take it easy”!! “Push to strain but not to pain!” Gosh I love these “Bikramisms”.

My questions to you are – did these ailments come about BECAUSE you did the yoga or were they all pre-existing and only just come to light now?  If pre-existing, I bet it’s only come up now because it’s only now that you’re strong enough to deal with whatever they represent emotionally.  I’ve experienced enough now to know that physical pain is ALWAYS linked to something emotional and emotional stuff I’m good at!!  I have lived many a drama and trauma myself to know that all you need do is deal with the biggest one (you’ll know which one that is) and the rest will fall away like dominoes.  Soon after, the physical stuff starts to heal as well 🙂
I know (because I’ve felt it) the pain of not going.  So I do feel for you.  Apart from the mental pain, the pain in the joints and aches in the muscles from being stiff and possibly growing lots of fascia is NOT fun at all!  But maybe it’s the fascia that you need to accumulate in your hips to make you better!!

I bet Bikram gives himself a break from practice and takes it easy during certain sessions too! So if you have to take it easy…. then take it easy! (have I said “take it easy” enough for it to be meaningless now?) What do they say? “Be KIND to your body”. If your body needs the time away from the studio, then give it the time, be kind to it and I bet you’ll be back in the studios before you know it!

There was a pregnant lady in our studio, who went away to have her baby and she was away for 6 weeks after giving birth before coming back and doing a class.  She had to take it really easy and do alternative poses.  You should’ve seen her bow though…. friggin’ brilliant!!  If I just had a baby, I’d want to look like her!

Anyway the point of telling you that is:

a) You may want to ask your teachers for alternative poses for your hips and alternative poses / milder poses for the cardio sequence.  Ours always give alternative poses for those with various aches and pains and injuries.

b) even with some time away, you can still come back and do really really awesome and kick everyone’s ass at bow!

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2 thoughts on “Bikram Yoga: Dear Bikram Butterflies”

  1. WOW this is a long response – thank you!! I had to open another window to type my comment so I could make sure I wasn’t missing anything!

    I haven’t tried the Bikram Balance, although I’m very careful about keeping my electrolyte levels up for class. I’ll definitely look into it though – it sounds great 🙂

    When it comes to injuries, I can understand your concern… but I don’t believe for an instant that it’s grounded in reality. Sure, you can temporarily injure yourself doing Bikram if you push too hard or don’t pay attention to form (pulled muscles, etc)… but that’s the same in pretty much every physical activity and I don’t believe that’s what you mean. From what I can see, you’re concerned about doing some serious, underlying, long-term harm to your body without realising. But as long as you’re practicing yoga correctly, that’s just not going to happen.

    Bikram doesn’t injure your body. It can help HEAL old injuries, and that process can be painful. But it doesn’t injure your body. This is a hard concept for me to explain in writing – it needs lots of hand-waving and animated facial expressions and scribbled diagrams on a whiteboard. But this is the example I like to use: I broke my ankle once when I was a kid and as a result that foot has always been a little stiff. It has a little less range of motion; a little less strength and balance. But I just got used to it. Life with a slightly dodgy ankle was “normal.”

    A few months after starting Bikram, that ankle started to hurt in class. At first I blamed the yoga, but then I remembered that old break. It couldn’t have been the yoga that hurt my ankle – my joint had been dodgy for DECADES. But now my body had finally improved to a point where it was able to work on healing that old injury. Bikram didn’t injure my ankle; it just healed my body enough to start redefining and improving on what I had come to think of as “normal.” And during this process, my ankle was moving in ways that it hadn’t done since I was five years old. So sure, this gave me a few twinges… but the overall result was overwhelmingly positive.

    With the body/health issues that I’ve been experiencing recently, not one bit of it is attributable to the yoga itself. At most, Bikram is acting as an early warning system. Let’s take the palpitations as an example – my doctor believes these are caused by SVT (although we won’t know for sure until I’m able to have some tests run). It’s a genetic disorder, and there is no way that yoga could have caused it. There is no way that yoga could even worsen it! But what yoga DID do was help my body to perform at a higher level, and that’s when the symptoms became apparent. This prompted me to seek medical help MUCH sooner than I would have had I not been practicing Bikram, and this is a fantastically GOOD thing for my body and my health.

    So yes, I’ll head back to class eventually! And yes, I’ll even try to take it easy 🙂 (And yes, I’ll get back to kicking ass at Bow!!!) But in the meantime, I can promise you that you’re not doing long-term harm to your body when you practice Bikram. Just the opposite.

    1. I so get what you’re saying here and I appreciate the reassurance! Also glad to hear you’re keeping a really positive attitude towards healing your body and getting back into doing what you love. Thanks for taking the time to read my response AND for writing back too 🙂

      I agree. As much as I do get that occasional “what if… this is bad for me because of the pain” feelings… there’s a much stronger “This is good for me and I’m healing” feeling in me so I’ll stick with that one and if anything does get a little bit worrying, a doctor is a good place to start!!

      For now, they’re just twinges and the occasional pins and needles or cramping during and soon after class but none that don’t go away once I’ve had some Bikram Balance… I sound like an ad for it.. but in all truth, it’s been pretty positive. So yeah, give it a go and see if it helps 🙂

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