Bikram Yoga: North West

So being in Australia to spend time with family and go to my mum’s funeral and help go through her things and travelling up and down between North West Sydney to Inner West Sydney down to Wollongong over and over had its moments.  I’d have to say that this had to be the most stressful, eventful visits to Sydney ever and one that we’d prefer never to repeat.

To be honest, I’d prefer to shoot myself in the head than to do that trip again.  Not to say that I didn’t appreciate being able to spend time with my family and a few of my closest friends (a lot of whom I didn’t even get to see at all).  I am very grateful for the time I got to spend with those I love dearly, it just wasn’t enough time and just the nature of the visit, the drama and emotional draining that went on was enough to send anyone to the loony bin.

With that in mind, we were extremely grateful to have been able to go to at least some yoga classes while we were there.  Not enough if you ask us but it was better than nothing!  The yoga definitely helped me hold it together at a time when everything was discombobulated and out of sorts.

Before we went to Sydney, we spent a great deal looking into all the different studios.  How much intros and monthlies cost, how close each was to where we were going to be, what people’s reviews online of them were etc. and the one place we were NOT going to go to was Bikram North West.

Why?  Because it was the only yoga place that had a review where the newby said they got kicked by the teacher for lying down the wrong way, got told off for talking before class inside the room and then got called “scoliosis” during class every time the teacher was talking to them because they’d mentioned it as an ailment/injury before the class.  I get the rules and yes, they do tend to call people “miss yellow” or “hey headband” or “blue towel! yeah you” if they don’t know your name but calling someone “scoliosis” and kicking them?  As a first experience of Bikram Yoga?  So I made a note NOT to go to this specific studio even though it might have been the closest to us while staying with Tony’s parents.

So before we left, we went to drinks with some yogis.  I know… Yogis drinking?  Well, they do in London.  And two of the teachers we went to drinks with who heard we were going to Sydney said….. “There is a studio there you MUST go to.  It is the ONLY studio you should go to… It’s Bikram Yoga North West”.

Unbelievable, the one studio we were NOT going to go to is the exact studio we were told we HAD to go to.

So I told them about the review I’d read and you know what the response was?  “Yeah… that actually does sound like something James would do.”  WTF?  So tell me again why I should go?

So it turns out, our teacher Steph and her partner Dave go to Bikram Yoga North West every single time they’re in Sydney.  They go there because that’s where Steph started and elevated her BY journey and James, the lead teacher and studio owner of North West is her mentor.  She couldn’t say enough great things about him and his studio and neither could Dave and so we agreed that despite what I’d read and what the newby reviewed, we would go and try it out.

We kept our word.

No words could describe the anxiety I was feeling on stepping into that studio.  Why?  Because I’ve got a tiny bit of scoliosis (which I didn’t mention to them) because I’m not that great in my practice and can’t do the splits… because I have bad habits in class that I haven’t gotten rid of yet… because I might need to rest and lie down… because I drink water in class.. because we just got off a god damned 24 hour flight with no sleep… and my hip my damned hip which has been causing me pain down my leg since Feb every time I sit for longer than 30 mins was in pain yet again…… 24 hr flight makes for extremely long periods of sitting down…. and my mum just died not even a week before….. so what if I burst into uncontrollable tears in the room…. etc etc etc

So I let Tony do all the talking.  Steph did say that if we mentioned her, James would look after us and so we did….

Let me tell you, at the mention of Stephanie, he was so happy, so welcoming, so loving, pride beaming out of him, smile from ear to ear full of glowing recommendations for Steph – the exact same way she spoke about him and his studio, I don’t even know why I was scared.  All my anxiety disappeared.  He made us feel at ease and at home and you know what?  In all the places we were in Sydney, that yoga studio is the one place we went where we felt like we could just be.  No judgements, no preconceptions, no expectations from ourselves or anyone else, just yoga and we so needed that.

And so it was, we did as many classes as we could.  The classes were amazing, the standard was HIGH.  I’ve never been to classes where as soon as a teacher walks into the room, everybody just stands up, feet together, facing forward, standing still, looking at themselves in the mirror.  They were SERIOUS!!!  Trained, like soldiers!  DISCIPLINED!!  That was impressive in its own right.  Every single class was like that and even beginners gave it their all.  Everyone moved as one.  We absolutely loved being there.

These guys were good.  I remember doing a practice next to some hardcore yogis and a teacher here in London.  Every single balancing stick was straight, every 2nd part awkward was held, every standing bow was high and straight and balanced.  The standard is so high that because you’re standing next to them, you just have to raise your game.  There is no giving up otherwise you look like you don’t belong.  That was one row… imagine a whole class of this and that’s what you get in Bikram Yoga North West!!

The energy in the entire room makes you do better, everyone moves at the same time.  I tell you, it is amazing what kind of studio they’ve created and the quality of students they have.  Don’t get me wrong, not every single person did a perfect balancing stick or a perfect bow etc.  Each person is on their own journey, their own level BUT every single person gave their best, never gave up and you could feel that.

In the first week of classes I “took it easy” ’cause my butt was playing up again after the flight and sending me pain up and down my leg but James does a lot of spine work with his students and I asked him to help me out with my pain and looking at my spine he found that I had a little bit of a slipped disc at the base of my spine.  A month of physio and an xray and nobody spotted this?  So he pushed it into place and gave me an exercise to do every day and believe it or not, within a few days, my leg stopped hurting and was the most pain free I’d been since February when it first started!!!

This was 2 months ago now and my leg still plays up now and again but nothing like it used to… one treatment (for 5 mins) was all it took. Makes me wonder why I went to 10 physio sessions!!!

So what to learn from all of this?

Australia still rocks when it comes to giving it your all.

Everything ever written is subjective and your experience could be completely different so don’t write something off or get scared of something just because of one bad review.

A lady once told me my future (when I was about 19), she said there were going to be some troubled times ahead for me.  When I got upset about what might be, she said that she mentioned it not to get me upset but to warn me so I prepare myself.  “What do you do when someone tells you it’s going to rain?” she said.
“Carry an umbrella.” I replied.  After this trip, I realised that yoga is my umbrella – it provides shade in the sun and shelter from the rain, a buffer from the wind.

When a teacher knows how to teach, you will see it in their students.

When a healer knows how to heal, you will feel it in your body pretty quickly.

When you meet a yogi, there is nothing but love, acceptance and respect.

If you’re ever in Sydney, you HAVE TO go to Bikram Yoga North West 🙂


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