So now you're fully prepared, what to expect from your first week of practicing Bikram yoga at home?
So now you're fully prepared: you have everything in place to heat your room, you have learned the postures, and you have a great mental attitude as you approach your new yoga practice with energy and enthusiasm... it will all be plain sailing from now on, right?
Well I say that kinda tongue-in-cheek. Of course if you are fully prepared then you have given yourself a great foundation, but now it's really down to business. The real challenge begins with actually starting the practice.
I wrote the notes below during my first week of practice, and it is possibly one of the most challenging things I have ever done. As I write today I'm now in week five, and what I can say is that there are easier days, and challenging days. Sometimes the body feels very strong, and at other times weak. Sometimes the body feels very flexible and agile, and at other times very stiff and unresponsive. As I continue practicing through the weeks I am encouraged by remembering the words of Vanda Scaravelli:
"There is beauty in the acceptance of what is"
One of the good things about bikram is the heat (really). I’d heard that if you can just get through the heat, do two or three postures and then sit it out, then you’re doing good. For reasons I won’t go into here (see my previous blog about heating the room and temperatures) - in this first session at home I was in the heat for 5 hours!!
In a Bikram yoga center the whole sequence of postures takes about 90 minutes. To get through the routine following the book and the videos I'd found on YouTube took me two and a half hours! Hmm... something was off. I was okay with it, because I was learning, but something needed to change. I used iMovie to edit the videos so the timing on the videos would be different for day 2. I couldn’t hold my arms up for half moon pose as long as they did in the videos. One of the problems of learning at home is there's no-one to ask. Except for the books and videos, you're pretty much figuring it out on your own.
However, one of the benefits of doing yoga at home is that you don't have to keep up with everyone. I was able to take long rests between postures as I paused the video & sat down to catch my breath!
I was far too exhausted to do savasana (corpse/dead body pose) between every pose at the end but it felt good. I was exhausted but glad I did it.
I noticed the room was 54% humidity and I don't have any way to control that. The room temperature reached a maximum of 97.8ºf. The heater had been on full for 5 hrs and I'm thinking maybe it doesn’t get any hotter than that.
I wake up and feel too exhausted to begin. Doing it anyway. The heater is in my bedroom. I put it on at 3:00am then went back to sleep. Woke feeling groggy and got up at 4:45 am so I went downstairs to cool off. I came back in feeling more awake and began practice at 6:00am
Feeling very nauseous… I’m told that’s normal. Watching the mind try to control the experience… ‘take a break after each posture’. Still taking long breaks between postures… would be nice to do one long, flowing rhythm but the body isn’t ready for that. Can’t hold postures for anywhere near as long as the people in the videos... doing my own 'count to ten'!
It still took me two and a half hours to get through the routine.
Today decided to listen to Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class on audio…. no video… just to see if I can keep time within the 90 minutes… that means not so much rest between postures… oh well… here we go!
Taking a lot of concentration… but his sense of humor gets you through it. I’m a long way from Patanjali’s ‘mind settling into silence’… noticing many thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’ ... yet also a deeper, stronger resolve… I have a deeper knowing now that my current exhausted, unfit, unhealthy state is temporary, and that this body will respond with healing.
Still feeling nauseous. Still skipping the last few corpse poses. Managed to get through the timing (but had to sit down and miss a pose or two half way)!
Still with audio. It's better for timing - to get through the routine within 90 minutes. Can’t hold poses as long as the ‘official’ count (I also think I read somewhere that it is better as a beginner to get the posture as good as you can get it and hold for shorter time - increase the time with experience). Well that works for me, for now.
Still feeling nauseous. Can’t wait for the day when I notice some benefit to this. Later during the day I noticed I do have more energy (amazingly).
Stuck with 90 minute audio. Feeling irritable. Very tired. Can’t seem to get the rhythm for the pranayama (standing deep breathing) and I want to I'm sure the breathing is key and have read reports of other people, where everything fell into place for them once they got the breathing right.
Between my own mental chatter and the audio mp3, I'm a long, long, way from Patanjali's 'mind settling into silence'. ...and I'm getting irritable that my mind is so busy, but I suppose that's to be expected when doing something new.
Decided today to forego the videos and mp3 and see if I can do the whole routine in silence - just using the wall poster as a guide to remind me of the sequence. I can still hear Bikram in my head which is a good thing I suppose at this stage - because I'm remembering tips for the postures.
I am more able to access the silence too and feel much better. One of the things I love most about yoga at home is the silence and solitude.
Still taking breaks between poses but feel much better about the day and am happy that I was able to practice the whole sequence without the constant input from mp3 or video. I'm more able to find my own rhythm in the postures.
Ta-da! Day seven and the end of the first week is in sight! Today my knees/legs feel noticeably stronger. In corpse pose (savasana) I felt the tops of my thighs touch the floor. To me that means my legs are getting straighter, and my ‘anterior flexors’ (I think that’s what they’re called) must be stretching and relaxing!
Well that's the first week completed. There's still a long way to go before I can even imagine doing the whole sequence 100% without stopping in between poses for a rest, but I feel invigorated, stronger, encouraged and I know it will only be a matter of time, persistence and patience.
Enjoy your week and whatever you do, keep being kind to your body and mind!
with best wishes,