I moved to Baltimore from California in 2002 to be closer to my family. It was like moving to a different planet. I was confused and defeated in every possible way. Depressed, unable to sleep, and feeling completely disconnected.
One afternoon, attempting to locate a health food store in Baltimore County, I found myself utterly lost, as was often the case, and a perfect metaphor for my life at the time. I pulled into a shopping center and a store with whited out windows and a big sign caught my eye. “COMING SOON…BIKRAM YOGA”. I yelped. I had never tried Bikram yoga, but had considered it in LA, where I had maintained a consistent Hatha yoga practice. A slice of LA. Ahhh….
A few weeks later I took my first class during the free opening weekend. After the 90 minute class, as I lay in final savasana in a puddle of my own sweat surrounded by 30 strangers, I wept tears of joy. “I’m home.” I have practiced just about every day since.
One of my first teachers used to say that “Bikram yoga brings us back to who we really are, deep inside.” Through daily practice, I started to understand what he meant. The weight I had put on since moving melted right off. The cloud above my head began to dissipate. I was starting to find myself.
The Bikram series is scientifically designed to work each and every cell in your body in a very specific order. The postures are basic and simple enough for anyone to do regardless of fitness level, age, weight, injury, or flexibility. A consistent Bikram practice will return any student to maximum health. It builds strength, balance and flexibility. It controls blood pressure and circulation, regulates hormone levels, and lowers stress. The Bikram series is cardiovascular and has a very high calorie burn. Physically, this practice makes your body function the way it’s meant to. Physically, who you really are.
So, it’s a great form of exercise. But it goes deeper.
Living in the modern world, we are inflicted with stress everyday. Our bodies, our minds, and our spirit hold on to these injuries. Our physical and spiritual selves suffer from trauma, negative messages, insecurities, and the struggles of life. Some we feel emotionally. Some physically, and some lie deeper but continue to effect our thoughts, feelings and actions.
A daily Bikram practice means that you perform the same postures in the same order in a heated room for 90 minutes everyday. This is a mindful moving meditation. Connecting the mind and body in a conscious meditative state is the path to releasing the negativity and stress from our bodies and souls. We leave class feeling emotionally lighter. We gain confidence and patience. We learn to be calm and to let go of thoughts and behavior patterns that no longer serve us.
In effect, we are returned to our factory settings. We are free to be, once again, the person we always were deep inside, the true self. This is the greatest gift of a Bikram practice.
I finally went to Bikrams Teacher Training in spring 2007 in Hawaii, and I never looked back. I have been teaching full time ever since. To say that Bikram yoga changed my life is not quite accurate. It gave me back the person I was always meant to be. My practice and teaching yoga is a huge part of who I am. The people I have met, friendships I have cherished, lessons I habe learned and lives I have touched have filled my life with light and love.
Being part of the Bikram Yoga Catonsville community brings me joy and purpose. I continue to practice everyday, always learning something new and still becoming more and more “who I really am deep inside.”