I remember, after mentioning to Kay that I’d lost 40 lbs in just over 100 days, her asking “But it’s more than that, it’s the inner transformation, right?” My response was quick, “Absolutely, I just have no other way to sum it all up!” Later, I've been able to clarify my thoughts:
The weight loss, I decided, was a 'superficial yardstick' for the multitude of positive life changes i was experiencing due to my new yoga practice. Essentially, the real transformation was me getting back to me.
Everything kept falling into place, like a domino effect. I was eating healthier & required less sleep. I soon found I had more energy then I knew what to do with. This means I now find time for personal creative endeavors as well as exploring the natural beauty that is just outside our doors.
These past 6 months of yoga have shown me, and I want to tell you: You Already Are That Better Version Yourself! If your intention is set, nothing can stop you from reaching your goals. Pardon the hippie-dippy sentiment, but I did kinda move here from Santa Cruz, CA ;)
My first class was the sliding-scale donation class on a Thursday night last fall. After reading of the many benefits associated with Bikram, I thought it was something I had to try for myself! I approached with a healthy skepticism, and after giving it test-run realized it was everything I was hoping for and more.
Within a week, I was telling friends it was "the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.” Within a month, the lower back pain I was suffering from had disappeared.
Savasana (aka Dead Body Pose) is still extremely challenging for me. Patience is a life-long lesson. I believe that learning to be still and relax is one of the best things we can do to maintain balance in this fast-paced world in which we live. Look around- we’re all here for the same reason. As we become better versions of ourselves, we’re better able to serve the community around us- what an amazing gift! P.S. Don’t forget to breathe.
Here's a recipe for one of my healthy meals that keeps me hydrated and energized for practicing 4-5 times per week:
Original Hot Yoga Salad
• your favorite greens mix
• low-fat cottage cheese
• roasted sunflower seeds
• kosher dill pickles
• chili flakes (100% *not* optional!)
"I started Bikram yoga in Grapevine, Texas in June of 2015 with the 30-day challenge. I had herniated my L5 disc in my back and was in physical therapy for 6 months with no real results for the pain. A friend recommended Bikram hot yoga. Though painfully wonderful the first 30 days, the pain subsided and I began to recover.
"In 2016 during a regular physical exam (after I had paused from Bikram yoga for about 9 months) the doctor informed me I had high blood pressure. He wanted to evaluate after 30 days with a recommendation of lower salt intake, weight loss and more exercise. I told him I was going to return to Bikram yoga and see if I could resolve the blood pressure issue. The following results speak for themselves:
"My goals were: Lower Blood pressure (Achieved); Lose Weight 210 lbs (Close!); Heart Beat in lowest level for my age (Achieved); No prescriptions (Achieved); No alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, caffeine (Achieved); Low daily sugar 23g per day; Fun every day! (Achieved)
September 12, 2016
Heart Beat Per Minute 65
--> 30 days later!
Heart Beat Per Minute 51
"When I returned for my follow-up, my doctor was shocked that these results were achieved within 30 days of my September exam. He asked me how I did it. My response was: Bikram hot yoga, 3-4 times a week. Bikram hot yoga has now been added to my normal routine and I am convinced it has cured my ailments and redefined my body, mind and soul! Bikram hot yoga should be a required prescription in our medical system, for the results are stunning and life-long."
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.
Naren Heals Back Pain, Loses Weight & Forms Healthy Habits
"The key reason I started Bikram yoga was my severe lower back pain. I was injured at work in August of 2015 and for a year I tried physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, medication, even cortisol injections. It was always the same pain, and it was not going away. Then I lost my older brother last December and I went into depression. I had to make a big change. In July 2016 I was exploring online looking for more options hoping to finally come out of this pain in my back. I discovered Bikram yoga reviews about this yoga helping with chronic pain, and I decided to do a trial at BYSJ.
It has been 3 months of practicing about 3 times a week, and I have stopped drinking and feel no more depression. I have lost 32 lbs and 3% body fat, and I feel strong and fit. I actually enjoy the classes! Best of all, my back pain has gone away. It has made a massive difference in my lifestyle. Because of me my wife Sangeeta joined too, and we both enjoy doing Bikram yoga. We are eating healthier and we are devoting time for ourselves to get to class, even with our hectic schedule of work and kids. At 4:30, I drop everything and go to yoga!
I would like to say thank you to Kay and her team for being so helpful and friendly and making us feel welcome always. I feel so at home and comfortable at this studio. The moment I walked in the door I felt welcomed and loved. It is a beautiful and sacred gem in St. Johns. The owners, teachers and members of BYSJ always motivate you!"
-Naren Sharma, 39, BYSJ member, surgical technologist and father of 3
HHY Founder, Yoga Business Coach, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay Afif!