When I came to my first class, I was interested in yoga as a way to improve my rock climbing. Climbers often end up with hunched, over-developed shoulders and tight hamstrings from heel-hooking – so I was looking for a way to stretch everything out and prevent injuries.
Bikram appealed to me because I liked the idea of the 26 repetitive postures and sweating in the heat, but it’s safe to say I had no idea what I was in for. For the
last 30 minutes of my first Bikram class I remember the acute feeling of wanting to throw up while simultaneously feeling as if I was having a heart attack. Luckily Nick got me through it.
I really underestimated how hard Bikram is, and I remember thinking what kind of a masochist does this to themselves for fun? But, I made a point to go back and try again. That was over a year ago, and since then I’ve been practicing more or less two to three times a week.
There are a lot of parallels I can draw from climbing – working with your own bodyweight, intense concentration, the ability to get into ‘the zone’ and the satisfaction I get from incremental improvements, no matter how small. I am constantly surprised by the physical benefits of the practice, especially building strength.
My climbing has improved a lot since I started, I am stronger, more flexible, and I recover much faster from the training sessions.
More than that though, I think I’m beginning to discover something a bit more profound. The more I practice the more I feel a sense of calm in just about every other aspect of my life. Those 90 minutes of masochism in the hot room – heart beating out of my chest, fixated on how good water tastes and how tight my hamstrings are when I try to ‘LOCK THE KNEE!’ – are making my life more enjoyable in ways I’m not quite sure I know how explain.