Is Bikram Yoga For You?

I welcomed the New Year flat on my back in corpse pose. I was at Bikram Yoga Merrimack Valley in North Andover, Mass., doing Savasana one minute before the ball dropped in Times Square and for the first full minute of 2013.   

A few years ago, if someone told me I’d be practicing yoga in a 105-degree room for 90 minutes, I would have bet the bank against them. But there I was, sweating like a pig and smiling widely. It felt joyous and life affirming to end 2012 and start the New Year this way! 

In Savasana, you lie on your back with your palms facing upward, arms by your side. It is in those still moments that, in layman’s terms, you reap the rewards of your practice, allowing the mind, body, and spirit to integrate the benefits of all of the asanas (postures) practiced during class.  

Bikram’s not a walk in the park. During my very first class, I had thoughts like “you must be joking” and “one more minute of this and I’m bolting for the door.”  

That’s normal for most people, as it takes your body time to acclimate to the heat. Studio owner Teri Almquist led my very first class, and I remember her saying to new students that the only requirement was that they breathe.  She said we didn’t need to do every pose perfectly. Over time and with patience, she promised we’d see change.  One thing I know for sure—it’s amazing how much more patience you develop outside of the classroom!

Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, refers to the practice as torture, but asks, “What would you prefer, 90 minutes of torture or a lifetime of torture?”

Many times, I’ve walked out of the Bikram torture chamber feeling cleansed, free of the back stiffness that has plagued me, enjoying a clearer mind and a sense of joy that makes me want to return as much as possible.

My mother was European and she sometimes got words in English confused.  She said to me once, “Heidi, you do so much better in life when you practice your yogurt! Why don’t you go back to yogurt class?”

I wish I had taken her advice years ago! But today I do yoga because it makes me happy. In this stress-filled world, I want to encourage as many people as possible to find a practice that feels right to them and makes them shine! 

I took the final two weeks of the year off.  There were many great holiday offers, including the chance to be with family in Michigan and an invite from a friend traveling around the United Kingdom. I would usually be packed and ready to go in a New York minute. But this vacation was different, it was filled with Bikram and other yoga classes. I spent time with the people who are closest to me. For the most part, I listened to music, read, cooked my favorite foods, sang to my beloved pets and brought them for walks and truly enjoyed the company I was keeping . . . my own. 

Thank you for joining me on my journey; I’m excited to learn about yours!

About Heidi Boone
Heidi Boone is a sales professional on the outside and a tree hugger on the inside. She strives for well-being at every level and blogs about her experiences with yoga, eating a largely plant-based diet, and exploring the many ways to make the journey both joyous and life affirming.

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