I started practicing yoga because I was physically and mentally bent out of shape. I needed something to reset my system and I knew I enjoyed doing yoga (but I had never committed to practicing regularly in the past.) I had no idea what I was getting myself into with Bikram yoga!
I ended up really enjoying it, and about 5 months later I completed my 105th class in 100 consecutive days. I have taken over 150 total classes so far, and I have no plans to stop making time for this yoga to be a big part of how I care for myself.
I dislocated my elbow when I was two and have experienced elbow pain ever since. During my first couple classes I felt quite a bit of pain in locust pose, but I kept trying a little bit each time. After a few months of practicing, it dawned on me one day that the pain in my elbow had disappeared! I had been so focused on just doing my best that I don't know what day or class had been the first one without pain. Even outside of yoga, the normal stiffness I felt with a slight change in weather is now gone. With the loss of pain and increased strength I have noticed that I am becoming more confident in locust pose- and in my body’s ability to change.
I feel like I am getting my life and my health back on track, and that is starting with yoga. I have a history of not making time for myself, and dedicating an hour and a half to myself every day has been amazing. No matter how I feel before class physically or emotionally, my body does the yoga (often in better form than my mind expects) and I can feel good about doing something for me. The best part is that it reflects in my daily life outside of class. Practicing yoga helps me to be kind and thoughtful in my interactions with others. I have lost weight and gained muscle, but more importantly I am making time to care for myself and nurture my body.
Another benefit I have found from the yoga is community. Being new to Portland, I have found Bikram Yoga St. Johns a welcoming, comfortable place to practice. I have made several good friends at the studio and brought some friends in to try yoga too. Staff and students are friendly and welcoming to all of us, no matter where we are in our life journey. All of the instructors encourage us to do good for ourselves in our practice and to try and push through mental barriers while connecting to our bodies in a way that keep us at peak performance. I continue to learn new things about myself and about this practice every time I enter the hot room.
I remember that my first class was very difficult, and there were so many things that I was doing wrong. I was telling myself I would never be able to do a certain pose or stretch a certain way. While I still have doubts about my ability to reach great depth in some of the postures, I have surprised myself so much by the improvements I have already made. My competitive streak keeps bringing me back to this practice every day- not to compete with my fellow yogis, but to compete with the self-imposed limitations that I plan to conquer.
HHY Founder, Yoga Business Coach, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay Afif!