Turning up the heat and challenging your body can revitalize your health
The Daily Aztec
Amy Ebersole, Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, November 6, 2008
In Bikram yoga, 26 postures are held and then repeated, allowing people to sweat out the stress.
“Put your hands behind your back, head to knees, lift up legs, now, push, push, harder, harder. Change! Lie down on your back. Three, two, one … dead body pose.”
Flipping onto my back, my sweat-soaked clothes sink into the floor.
My heart: palpitating. My body: perspiring.
Fresh, oxygenated blood is pulsating, rushing through every organ, fiber, joint, muscle and ligament, coursing through my veins, leaving me in a pure state of total mind-body ecstasy.
All I hear are shallow, deep breaths: breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.
This is Bikram hatha yoga.
Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury is the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India. He created this 90-minute session of 26 postures repeated twice, with a savasana (lying flat and not moving aka the “dead body pose”) between transitions, and two breathing exercises that are held in a room with a minimum of 105-degree temperature with about 40 percent humidity.
Exercising the endocrine systems and cleansing the body by flushing toxins, hatha yoga energizes, revitalizes and reorganizes the body to increase concentration, mood and mind-body integrity while reducing stress.
Colleen Bourgeois, La Jolla studio owner and teacher, has been doing Bikram yoga for more than 10 years for about five to six times a week. She started Bikram yoga to control the effects of stress after she had finished cancer treatment.
“I am a cancer survivor and realized that stress contributes to the cause of most every disease,” Bourgeois said. “After I began Bikram yoga, I began to notice changes mentally and physically. Immediately, I began to be a much happier person due to the elimination of stress and anxiety from practicing yoga.”
This “blissful” feeling of happiness after every session is a common response to Bikram yoga.
“I felt like I had just had the hardest and most fulfilling workout of my life. It’s not just a physical workout; it’s mental and spiritual too,” English student at Cal State Fullerton, Nicole Mcfeely said, after her first practice. “After one time I felt like a new person – lighter, more complete and tuned into the energy around me.”
Tuned in — hmm, no wonder yoga means “union.” One of its goals is to aid in the junction of the body, mind and spirit to enter a state of oneness. This preventative medicine increases the mind-body integrity as a ticket to positive change and increased connectivity. To connect with others, one must first learn how to connect with themselves.
Every class has the same set of postures in the same order and time period so beginners and advanced students of all ages and sizes practice together.
Prices range according to studio, but for students younger than 25, it is $10 a session or $100 a month, and classes run at various times throughout the day.
“As a first-timer, have an open mind. You cannot master yoga in one or two practices. The more you do it the more you learn and, truly, the learning is infinite,” Bourgeois said. “The gifts of physical and mental well-being are the most important aspects of your life. If you ignore them, they will go away. Embrace, learn and practice yoga to have a healthier, happier, more balanced life.”
So why do people pay for torture? Sometimes a little pain is well worth the pleasure.