“INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIVING A LIFE: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ~ Mary Oliver

This piece is not written for longer term practitioners who have learned to ‘grace’ through ‘stuff’… this is written for the younger person/Yogi whose life is just ramping up and everything is new experience (including Bikram Yoga), work is new, life is new, love is new, pain is ‘new’ and ‘unknown territory’ and they don’t quite know how to categorise it without a point of reference because not enough lifetime experience has been racked up yet; e.g. is this feeling serious or normal?’ This is written for those who are finding navigating ‘it all’ a bit hard.

I know what knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain, chest pain feels like, I know what it feels like to creep out of bed and tentatively put a foot on the floor and then try and get things going (I have history! I’m 48.5! bound to have a few ‘that’s life’ wounds). But any one who knows me will know I am in the Yoga for the ‘head stuff’; I know what mental pain and heartache feels like and I AM HAPPY TO SAY I NOW KNOW the mental, psychological, and spiritual benefits of a regular Bikram practice. I had a time in my life when I hit the proverbial rock bottom and felt everything was beyond my control and I just did not have the stamina to endure anymore of these seemingly random awful things that kept ‘happening to me’ (I am harking back to a few decades here folks). With a low self esteem and a despair of what the future held (of course I didn’t know then that ‘I’ create my own reality and if anyone had said that to me at that time I would have laffed at their ‘airy fairy mumbo jumbo new agey psycho babble’ ).

Then I walked out of my first Bikram Yoga class on a ‘high’ and rearing to go, immediately planning my next trip back to class {always a good idea when new to have your next attendance mentally planned when leaving a class}.  That ‘high’ and zest after classes lasted for SIX whole months! I didn’t know it then but that was very likely the wellbeing effects of those lovely endorphins that are produced by any exercise and the reason I felt the effect of them so profoundly was that I had never actually made any sustained effort in any form of training before and so the feeling was brand new to me.  I never knew one could feel like that naturally.  OK I had been to one step class (age 23). Once (didn’t get that buzz then).  Oh and new year’s day once when I was 25 I got off the sofa and went for a run which lasted all of about 8 mins (including the ‘walk’ back) (didn’t get that buzz then either).  Oh and in the month before I took up Yoga I took a few short runs along the front 🙂 ; but for all the wrong reasons (someone had said to me casually you don’t do much do you ~ that really hit home ~ how I may have appeared to others. I did OTHER stuff (not physical) but I didn’t harp on about it because I didn’t realise that for some other people you are meant to advertise your activities/accomplishments in order for them to validate you, at least that is what it felt like at the time).  I had heard about Bikram Yoga for a while and for some reason references to it peaked my interest (as a possible self help method for dealing with my eternal insomnia). In truth I was really looking for a different way of living than the pub, club lifestyle I was so enmeshed in. I really wanted to try out Bikram but was too anxious to go on my own. One day I heard a colleague talking about how amazing her class experience was and I expressed my nervousness but keenness to go and she told me to come along with her (July98). That was it; I never looked back.  There were no mirrors only the petite little blond lady demonstrating ideal first set of everything at the front of the room. To me she was so ethereal. She was doing this posturing stuff AND OMG SHE WAS TALKING AT THE SAME TIME!!!  I hung on her every word from that day onwards any opinion/thought she expressed about anything was keenly listened too and analysed. I had opened a new door and the world beyond it was exciting and inviting and welcoming and HOT and I INSTANTLY knew it to be the answer to what I was looking for.

Without focusing on the physical aspect of the Yoga and what I couldn’t do physically at the time, the immediate benefits I noticed were all mental. In the early years following takeup of Bikram, aside from that lovely victory feeling and elevation after completing any class I found my instance of catching colds to be reduced significantly.  Whereas previously I would have one-a-month (way too much alcohol/compromised immune system) I was catching them only couple times a year (probably the ideal humidity standard/optimal Bikram environment of Bikram Yoga classes where I was spending a lot of my spare time) and the effects of the colds were significantly less severe (most likely my stamina for enduring had increased thus diminishing the effects).  From the day I took up Bikram I never had a day off sick from work for 10 years!! {EMPLOYERS SHOULD TAKE NOTE!} (That first time I had to take time off was a bad chest infection in early pregnancy (immune system in flux) {would also like to point out here that YM has been open 8.5 years and never once has a class been cancelled for instructor illness}.  With my newfound Bikram Yoga practice I became more focussed and where previously I was meandering haphazardly through a number of exams I started to knuckle down and focus on what I was doing and not on what I wasn’t doing. Trying to do what I did to the best of my ability and taking ‘responsibility’ for my experience of life. The ‘right’ choices became more apparent with my new clarity of mind and things started to ‘get completed’. My focus just kept getting better and better. Fear started to diminish and where it didn’t – well I didn’t let that stop me doing things :). Challenges became something that just needed to be dealt with rather than avoided.

I am grateful for all those things that I made the mistake of thinking ‘happened to me’.  They made me walk into my first Bikram Yoga class where I learned to pause, take stock, readjust, let go, learn to make different choices in life. THANK GOODNESS. Those aches, pains, niggles and issues brought on the biggest transformation in my life.  Through them I found a body mind connection that I never had before.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing until I delved into the meaning of my first Yoga teacher’s business name (‘Body-Mind Connexion’ she called it ~ this was a whole new language to me).  I learned to trust my inner voice and not to be scared to say it out loud.  I LEARNED NOT TO DIMINISH MY WANTS AND DESIRES AS INFERIOR TO ANYONE ELSES. I learned I am not my pain. I learned I didn’t have to carry experiences with me.  I learned to honor my body and re-trust my intuition. Because of this I ended up on a path that is in harmony with who I really am because whilst I previously appeared to be meeting the traditional measures of success on the other path it was all superficial and I felt like a major part of myself was shriveling up, it was not being nurtured and came very close to dying out. I felt my contribution in that world, although it had a great ‘monetary’ significance, was not a worthwhile one for my soul.  Many of the physical pains I experienced were directly related to my choice (I say choice but I really ‘fell’ into it 🙂 ) of career (shoulders, back, chest, diaphragm… problems ) and my mental pains were down to my lack of ‘education’ (I have chosen this word after great deliberation). Ultimately, tho these pains were a gift – they forced me to do things differently in the end (age 27) and gave me my new beginning.


Yes, something in you might resist for a while, it might not want to be changed. It doesn’t want YOU to grow/ expand or have a radical shift in thoughts or beliefs because it upsets the status quo which feels familiar and safe; it doesn’t want to be left behind.  Yes, sometimes when you start you are moving from a place of pain and trauma.


Actual injury existing aside don’t ‘perceive’ limits where there are none because then you are not allowing yourself to live up to your true potential. Stay open to opportunities to evolve. EVERY BIKRAM CLASS IS A NEW CLASS OPPORTUNITY to push against the edge to CONSCIOUSLY SEEK OUT THAT RESISTANCE and practice mentally pushing it back and leaving behind what no longer serves and gradually you will find you are moving from a place of LOVE and SELF RESPECT.

TO DO: Make a list of all that you want to leave behind today (all that stuff that is holding you back, cramping you, getting in the way of your better life) and COME LOSE IT AT BIKRAM YOGA. But Remember! Carry no expectation! sometimes your Yoga practice is just about TURNING UP on your mat. You don’t HAVE to do anything other than turn up. THAT IS THE SUCCESS. Everything you try after that is a bonus.




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