Every year for the past 15 years, I have ‘participated’ in a Bikram yoga (BKY) 30 day challenge. Sometimes more than once a year. I think this will be my 25th challenge. This challenge seems very simple – 30 classes in 30 days.
Every day without fail, you go do Bishnu Gosh inspired yoga in a room at 41 degrees Celsius (105 Farenheit), with 60% humidity. For 1.5 hours, we practice 26 asanas (repeated twice – one to practice, the second to strive), 2 pranayama (breathing). For many Bikram enthusiasts including myself, having the mental strength and focus to meet this challenge is what draws me back year on year.
As one friend who does Bikram yoga regularly, says ‘you go into that room some days feeling really shitty, but you always come out the other end, feeling great about the rest of the day”.
Much has been said (and unsaid) about its physical health benefits, but I am one who knows from my personal experience, that this so-called extreme version of “hot yoga” has improved my flexibility, muscle tone, attitude and mindfulness to life.
And every year, BKY has helped me clear some tension, mental, emotional or physical bothering me. My experience is it forces such clarity and focus in the mind and spirit, that even I can still be ‘blindsided’ by the awesome feeling of power and immense peace that Bikram yoga can generate in me.
It helps me clear the temple for my spirit, removing excess baggage from my body and my mind.
This year I am doing the challenge in my fourth country. In Singapore, where all you have to do is shut your doors in your condo, turn off the a/c, and wait for the sun to hit your lounge room, and you already the conditions for Batiste Yoga (another form of hot yoga).
I register for the challenge (everywhere else, you simply said you were going to do it, people smiled and said, well done). I have a sign on and off sheet, and I pick up a little red sticker every time I complete a class, which I can place next to my name on a number sequentially so we can track how many classes we are doing, in a list of names across three whiteboards (there are 89 people doing the challenge). There are prizes for finishing. There are 89 people doing the challenge – wow! more than I have ever seen.
And so I start the journey again – never the same twice….