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Experience the Bikram Challenge
Bikram himself has put out the challenge to one and all to do one class of Bikram’s beginning yoga every day for 60 consecutive days. At the end of those 60 days he promises you’ll have a new body, a new mind and a new life. If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering just what he means by that. How can that be?
Bikram Yoga is an amazing process in so many respects. The structure of the class, the sequence of the postures in which every posture prepares the body for those that come next, the group environment, the intensity of the heat/humidity ratio, the teacher’s instructions and ever present watchfulness from the front of the room, the mirror (we teachers call it the cosmic mirror) in which you look at yourself for almost a full 90 minutes, all combine to make the completion of just a single class a challenge. Add to that the repetition of doing it every single day for 60 days straight and, yes indeed, you have a challenge.
Most all practitioners experience the physical challenge of Bikram Yoga in the very first class. They leave the room feeling physically spent with some level of awareness that they just completed the most thorough and difficult workout ever. We teachers have heard that even from professional athletes. In this state of exhaustion their mind quiets and relaxation settles in. Within a few hours the body recharges and they begin to get an exhilarating feeling much like the runner’s high. Add in the muscle soreness that begins the next day and the physical benefits of Bikram’s beginning yoga class are apparent right from the start.
What most often goes unrecognized is the mental benefits of the class. Bikram speaks often about how, especially in the West, our mind is our worst enemy. It is constantly thinking (which in and of itself can be a problem) and negative thoughts are the most prevalent and therefore the most powerful. A good teacher’s dialogue will keep the practitioner’s mind focused on what they are doing in the posture and what they are trying to accomplish, thereby keeping the mind occupied. With this there is a reprieve from the thoughts that normally are constantly present. Bikram Yoga is meant to be a 90 minute, open-eyed meditation and it’s the challenges inherent in the class that make it so.
It takes patience, concentration, determination, discipline and faith to stick with a regular practice of Bikram Yoga. These are all mental qualities and they are the same mental qualities that are required to create a truly successful life. Whichever of these are lacking or not quite up to par will develop over the course of the regular practice of Bikram Yoga. At the same time the deeper systemic changes in the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, central nervous, digestive, elimination, musculoskeletal systems will begin to materialize as well.
Why did Bikram choose 60 days for his challenge? You should ask yourself how long it takes for you to break a bad habit and/or form a good habit. Most researchers say it takes a minimum of 60 days to break a bad habit which, of course, varies with the strength of the habit and the level of addiction that may be tied to it. This is really what’s at the root of Bikram’s challenge. The seed is planted for most in the very first class and begins to sprout shortly thereafter. But it’s the ability of the root to take hold which is what’s important in the quality and longevity of the new life that begins to form.
Are you ready to change your life? Set aside 60 consecutive days and make taking care of yourself in the best way possible the top priority for each day. Pull out your calendar, mark down which Bikram Yoga class you will do each day and work the rest of your schedule around it. Know that you are nurturing the roots that will grow to form the new body, the new mind and the new life of your dreams.
Beware, the challenge begins once you make this commitment. Watch as distractions and conflicts surface from all aspects of your life throughout the course of the challenge. Each time one comes up, redirect your mind to the vision of your goal. The 60 days is just the start to a whole new you.