6048808454_a4f80b2fc3_zIt’s really hot. I get all sweaty and wear as little clothing as possible. When I’m finished, my body is tired, but surprisingly, I also feel strong and revitalized. My mind is calm and peaceful, yet alert and rejuvenated. I do this 3 or 4 times a week. No, it’s not what you’re thinking! It’s Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes of Hatha yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees and with 40% humidity. Some people’s idea of a hell on earth, right? A Bikram class consists of 26 postures with long, hard to say Indian names, but with simplified American descriptions like “Japanese ham sandwich.”

The heat hot increases flexibility, decreases the risk of injury, and allows a person to rework their body. Think of the analogy of a sword. Cold, the metal is rigid and inflexible, but heat it up,the metal becomes pliable with which you can work and shape.

The heat and humidity do make you sweat, but that’s a good thing. At the end of class , I look like I’ve been swimming. I have chuckled to myself during class because when I was supposed to be focusing on my breath, I was having visions of a Will Ferrell movie where the props guy used a water hose to simulate sweating ridiculously. All the sweat provides beneficial detoxification through the largest organ in the body, the skin. I leave the room cleaner than when I went in. Can’t say I smell better though.

Because over 90 pills went through my system when I tried to commit suicide, detoxing was a priority for me. When I first started doing hot yoga about a year after the suicide attempt, I would feel mentally clearer after each class. I completed a challenge where I took 60 classes in 60 days. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was probably the best thing I could have done to get the residual drugs out of my body. You think that’s crazy? A girl at my yoga studio complete 365 classes in 365 days.

She feels the same way I do. Bikram yoga transformed my life. It aided me in recovering from my brain injury physically as well as mentally and encouraged me to adopt a healthier, kinder, gentler perspective towards life and myself.

Muscle tension is a side effect of a brain injury, and I believe yogas helped my muscles relax. After the injury, my hands were clenched like claws and I clenched my jaws.  I believe yoga helped my muscles relax. Bikram yoga greatly helped to improve my balance. At first after the injury, my balance and coordination were way off. Now, I’m steady and can do an impressive impersonation of a flamingo.

The most important thing stressed in yoga is the breath, and a Bikram yoga class begins and ends with breathing exercises to increase lung capacity and strengthen the lungs. Yoginis are constantly reminded to concentrate on their breath during class which is harder than you would think.  A Bikram yoga class also begins and ends with breathing exercises to increase lung capacity and strengthen the lungs.

In the suicide attempt, I sustained an “acute lung injury.” While I don’t know exactly what that entailed, l do know that I used to not be able to breathe and talk at the same time. Bikram yoga encourages the heart and lungs to learn to work together and is proven to increase the oxygen levels in the blood and to improve circulation.

Anyone can benefit from Bikram yoga. It’s been shown to be helpful in aiding sleep, regulating the appetite, stabilizing moods, decreasing stress, reducing and alleviating pain and more. Because of its detoxification benefits, people doing chemotherapy have found it to be helpful. Also, because one class burns around 800 calories, it’s a great way to loose weight and keep it off.

If your idea of yoga is a room full of flower children, burning incense, relaxing and stretching while chimes play in the background, think again. Hot yoga is rigorous, physical exercise. It’s not pretty, but it is sooo good.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/58083698@N02/

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  1. Dr. Clare Albright, Psychologist and Neurofeedback Practitioner Reply

    Fascinating. Great post.

    Sounds like a super form of Yoga for the rest of us to check out.

  2. Tony Piparo Reply

    I agree with Dr. Albright. Nice name for a Psychologist too. Anyway, would love to hear more about the class; when it is, etc.

  3. botticellibelle Reply

    This sounds SOOOO good. If I still lived in Arizona I could practice for free… all I'd have to do is go outside 🙂

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