"yoga is the best medicine for mental illness"
I love reading people's stories on Facebook and hearing of their experiences with bikram yoga, however I notice a lot of what I read is about the amazing physical and healing benefits that can be achieved. I notice these too, and I think I could write a book of the ways this yoga has improved my life.
In particular, Bikram yoga has helped me more than I could have ever expected with my mental health. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was 13. I feel like it has held me back so much at some points in my life and after trying what felt like everything to make it go away before my first yoga class, I felt like that was just how my brain was and that it was just something I'd have to deal with. I really was very unhappy. However with regular practice I have gotten my life back on track and despite the fact they are becoming less frequent the more I practice, i feel like I can cope with bad days kind of a easily now, as I know yoga is the best cure! Next to none of my bad moods persist after a class.
In class today I was a bit distracted because I began thinking of how far I've come in the past year and a half of practising, and how all my achievements outside of the class can somehow be tied to what I've learned inside the room. I am forever grateful to you, the other teachers and yoga for teaching me how to let go and be happy again. I feel confident in myself and realise I am capable of more than I ever thought. The Glenelg studio has helped me in more ways than I think you'd ever realise and I thank you so much!
I think that yoga is the best medicine for mental illness and I'd like to share my story as I believe that often a diagnosis is thought of as irreversible and a life sentence, and that is easy to believe that when you are in a bad place. I am slowly learning that I'm in control of my mind and how to unhook the bad thoughts that previously would leave me unable to even get out of bed, so that I can go about my day normally. Every day I feel like this yoga is helping me improve myself.
Thanks for reading,
I started Bikram just under a year ago because I had terribly consistent back and neck pain caused from improper weight use at the gym and not recovering properly. When I first began, I could not even touch my toes without having to significantly bend my knees and the concept of back bending was bizarre!! Ever since coming to yoga consistently, my back and neck pain has pretty much completely gone, and now even my physio recommends I continue Bikram! And now any back bend in class is something I have a new found appreciation for. I am absolutely in love with this practice, as it has helped me become more relaxed, patient, motivated and determined not only in the room, but outside of the room, too. I don't know what I did with my life before I discovered Bikram yoga, but it obviously wasn't that great if I can't remember, haha! It is my favourite thing to do, and I consider myself lucky to have the ability to practice. I thank all the beautiful and encouraging teachers at Glenelg for helping me become a better yogi. You all inspire me :)
"My physio recommends I continue Bikram"
"Its tough, but dont give up!"
I started yoga in January last year. At the start it was really hard, but as I kept going
every week it got the tiniest bit easier. It helped me be less stressed and helped me
sleep. It helps me be happier and less moody. I recently completed a Bikram Yoga
challenge were I did 2 hot classes a week and after every class I would feel good. I
am proud of myself because I don’t know any other 13 year olds that do the yoga. I
think that if you have just started the yoga an you are struggling you should keep
going even if it’s hard.
I have been practising for one year now.
I began Bikram during uni exams last year; I was looking for anything to help ease my anxiety. I had no expectations and no idea what I was getting into! I struggled the first few months to even stay in the room as my body undertook a massive detox. Since then, Bikram has been my saving grace and I cant imagine sitting an exam or facing the day without going! Bikram makes me feel seriously happy and has taught me to be patient, take time for myself and appreciate the skin I am in every day (even on my "fat" days)! Plus I am getting flexible, strong and no longer experince shoulder pain and joint pain when I play tennis, bonus!
"Appreciate the skin I am in every day (even on my "fat" days)!"
"The regular practice has improved my health, my posture, my sleep and my mental well-being."
"I lost 11cms"!
I am a 'nubie' in my mid 50s - and proud of being a nubie! I have not yet finished even 100 days of Bikram Yoga and so my technique is very much flawed and I struggle. But there is honor in the struggle.
In e...very class there is a spectrum of proficiency. There are 20 something year old ‘veterans’, who count their practice in years, who stand beside those like me that count their practice in days - and struggle. I honor the veterans (especially our teachers) for their dedication and the inspirational ease in which they bend and stretch. Equally when I see someone struggle, I understand their pain, and honor them for the inspirational discomfort they endure.
In my short Bikram journey I have found great satisfaction in small victories - doing the things I initially never thought possible for me. The greatest satisfaction however is in simply practicing. The regular practice has improved my health, my posture, my sleep and my mental well-being.
I started late last year. My workplace commenced a personal training program - but I instinctively thought Yoga would be better for me. (It would have been flawed for me to try to build muscles on an unstable and inflexible frame!)
So I walked through the doors at Glenelg and started my first class. I decided I would put my trust in Bikram Yoga and its teachers. They said my elbows would stop hurting - and they did. They said controlling my breath would make practice easier - it does. They said to practice the right way and I would improve - and I have. I bought the book "Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class' and it suggests that beginners (like me) should "do the full class religiously each day for two months" (pg 199) - as of writing this testimonial I am in my 37th day and loving it!
I still can't get my right foot behind my left leg in Eagle pose, my sit-ups are a disaster and I still can't 'lock my knees' - but I have enjoyed small victories in the past so I am sure I will continue to enjoy incremental victories in the future.
More importantly as Bikram Choudhury says 'the only bad Yoga is no Yoga' so I will continue to struggle to do it the right way. I will listen to our wonderful teachers, I will breath, I will keep my eyes open and 'be present', I will try to 'lock my knees' and remember my "stomach, stomach, stomach'.
I did some Bikram a year ago for a month, but gave up as I was going to a gym and found the time commitment hard to keep up. As the year went on I slacked off with gym and my calorie intake. I weighed myself after Christmas and was in a bit of shock, time for a change!
A New Years resolution!
I had been thinking about returning to Bikram for a while, I had obviously forgotten how hard it is, and when I saw they had a waist challenge on, I decided this was it, time to get serious. So I joined up, went back to watching my calorie intake, gave up chocolate, beer and hardest of all, custard tarts...mmmm custard tart.
So here I am, I've dropped 7kg's, lost 11cm's of my waist and feel heaps better.
Many thanks to the girls (and guy) at Bikram for always being a happy, motivating bunch. I really like the way they have been more helpful with your form in the postures, giving tips when you can't get into the poses, and praise when you finally make it.
I am looking forward to keeping up my practice, getting down to my goal weight, and nailing Eagle pose.
"My family feels more connected".
I am relatively new to Bikram Yoga, I've only been practising since September (I actually don't know when I started?)
Before I started yoga I had constant back and sacroiliac joint pain from a form of arthritis I have had since I was 14. I was unable to contract my left thigh muscle after an ACL injury and repair from 8 years ago. I was unfit, unmotivated, stressed out a lot, anxious about many things, and just generally low on energy.
My firsts few classes are a bit of a blur, I just remember feeling hot, and a little overwhelmed with all the information that you get in a class. But at the end of each class I was always so proud with my body.. Which is a feeling I had never before had when looking in the mirror. After the first week I realised how much Bikram could change my life, but also realised my family could benefit.
I have two children, my daughter is 7, before yoga I had problems with her confidence, self image, balance and concentration. My son Archie is four, and his start to life was filled with medical complications that left him with a speech delay, poor fine motor, poor balance and his bodies ability to manage stress.
We all practise regularly (even my husband, who is totally boss on camel pose). My kids have much better balanced, their concentration is better, Archie's body doesn't react to stress so severely and Mya is able to articulate what she is feeling so much better. My family feels more connected. My body is healthier, stronger, more balanced and my chronic back pain is gone. But mostly for me I have seem the biggest change in my mind. I am calmer, happier and so much more confident. I am proud of myself and what I have achieved so far, I can't wait to see what the next six months brings.
"Bikram Yoga has helped to transform my life in so many more ways than just physically.
My name is Daniel Sheehan and I began practicing Bikram Yoga over the June long weekend of 2015.
I’d driven past the Pultney street studio on my way into the city on a number of occasions prior to
that Sunday morning in June and I had often wondered to myself, what exactly is Bikram Yoga?
(Actually I have to admit, I’d been considering to give it a go - while at the same time, putting it off
for at least the last 5 years or so)
This is a an account of my first class and my Bikram Yoga experience that I’d love to share with you if
you’ve got a few spare minutes to continue reading…….Namaste.
My introduction to Bikram was an early morning class with Robyn.
I’ll always remember the warmth and comfort from her smile that greeted me upon entering the
studio, it quickly helped to relinquish the feelings of anxiety and nervousness that I had allowed to
build up within, while driving into the city that morning before the class. Her friendly and caring
nature was immediately absorbed and it had me feeling welcome straightaway. After concisely
having the class explained and what the next 90 minutes would involve, I was ready…..or at least I
thought I was…..
I can still recall my first thoughts when I entered the yoga room……... “This isn’t too bad; it’s not as
hot as I thought it would be”…………. I sat my mat down and waited for the class to start. I was
surprised by the large number of people in the class, everyone had their own routine of preparing
for the class and I remember being amazed at the flexibility/strength of some of the positions that a
few of the fellow students were able to place their bodies into as they warmed up. At that moment I
was inspired, excited but also a little intimidated to be trying Yoga for the first time.
While I’d been waiting for the class to start, my heart rate had slightly increased and by the time
Robyn entered the room, I already had sweat beading and I was suddenly beginning to realise that it
wasn’t going to be like anything that I’d ever done before.
(Funnily enough, the room is appropriately named - “Bikram’s torture Chamber” - as I noticed during
my first few classes, until I’d learnt how to accept and persist with the challenges that the practice
commands – “there’s only one way, the hard way” – “90mins of Pain or 90 years?” - drinking plenty
of water beforehand helps immensely to deal with the heat as I also learnt earlier on in my practice.
Foolishly, I didn’t hydrate enough before my first class.)
I remember by the second set of the first breathing exercise I was already thinking
“what the #*@”………….
At this stage I was starting to feel some hesitancy towards my decision to take the class…. I was
feeling unsure about myself and unsure of my surroundings. I was in a room full of complete
strangers - who I must add looked to be handling it, without any visible signs of distress, a whole lot
better than I was.
I was struggling to coordinate my movement and breath with the dialogue and I was feeling
awkward and totally out of my comfort zone but I was aware that I just had to trust the process
and ignore the negative thoughts from within. I knew at that point I wouldn’t achieve anything by
walking out of the class.
I was open minded to the fact, that the only way to be fair and to reach an informed, non-bias
conclusion about Bikram Yoga and as to whether it was right or not for me, was that it would
probably take a few classes before that decision could be made.
I was able to calm down. Robyn’s earlier advice - “Don’t compare yourself with others in the class”
and to “just focus on yourself and do what you can” - registered again at this point and I was able to
refocus and continue with the class. I continually reminded myself that even just staying in the room
for the full 90 minutes was a huge achievement and persisting with the postures and the rest of the
class was an important step towards overcoming the challenge.
There were a few more “what the #*%@” moments throughout my first class but overall, I seemed
to have settled down after the first water break and from then on, I was able to connect with the
flow and enjoy the rest of the class.
The feeling I had when I left the room after class was phenomenal, the buzz I felt was absolutely
astonishing. I couldn’t wait to get back in the room, I was instantly hooked. From this point on there
certainly was no hesitation. On my introductory pass I attended every second day and before the 10
days had expired, I’d signed up for a 1 month pass.
During this 1 month period I decided to give the Hot Pilates class a go. What a different challenge
that first was. It’s totally different to the Yoga but requires the same approach to the class. Focus on
what you can do and don’t compare your ability and effort to others in the class. Do your best.
I just couldn’t get enough of this place. By the end of this 1 month pass I was attending 4-5 Yoga
classes a week and 1-2 Pilates classes a week.
I then signed up for a 12 month pass and a month later began my first 30 day Challenge. At this stage
I was already attending 6 classes a week and had included 2 Pilates classes into my weekly routine.
The hardest things that I found about completing the 30 day challenge were, understanding that the
body was always changing and that the ease/difficulty of the postures changes from day to day and
the ease/difficulty from posture to posture also can change daily. Towards the end of the 30 days,
fatigue was setting in in a big way.
The challenge was so much more than just physical. It was a huge test of mental strength and a test
of my commitment to endure and complete the challenge. There were days that I didn’t feel like
going to class but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way.
I learnt quite a lot about myself and what I’m actually capable of from those 30 days. I realised I
could achieve anything if I wanted it enough and was prepared to work hard for it. Just before the
end of last year, I was able complete 70 classes in 60 days.
It’s strange how some days, you feel fine and you’re ready to practice and you have a great class.
Other days you can feel fine but you have a horrible class and then other days, it can be the
complete opposite. I’ve learnt not to have expectations of my practice. Each day is a new day and a
chance for me to give my 100% to the practice, regardless of the results from performing the
postures; it’s always about the effort.
In my practice I deliberately haven’t allowed myself to develop a favourite posture, position in the
room or teacher. I feel that doing this may lead to me neglecting the advancement of my practice
and may also encourage bad habits to form, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Everyone is at different levels in their practice and with different things happening in their own lives
but we all share the one common goal in the room – to give 100% while aiming to be the best
version of ourselves. I love that about Bikram Yoga. The entire 90 minutes in the room is a chance to
focus on you. It’s not a competition.
Bikram Yoga has helped to transform my life in so many more ways than just physically.
It has helped me to overcome the battle with my depression that set in immediately after my
marriage broke down just over three years ago now. At the time when this happened, I was wiped
out by a huge wave of emotions -anger, sorrow, abandonment, loneliness, despair, frustration and
confusion- which I became entrenched in and enveloped by these feelings. They completely altered
my outlook on life and I developed a very frail and ill state of mind.
I was in a very dark place and not seeing any way out of it. I’d gone from living a very happy life with
a woman that I deeply loved and cared for, to feeling totally alone, unable to trust anybody and not
even caring anymore if I was alive or dead. It definitely was a frightening time in my life and is a
place that I never want to return to, nor should anybody ever end up in.
Through my regular Bikram yoga practice, it has helped to restore my wellbeing. I’ve regained
control of my emotions. I’ve been able to reclaim my determination and focus in life and I now have
back my ability to remain positive, calm, grateful and happy to be alive.
The environment here is so welcoming; the people I’ve met and practice with are all fantastic people
and it certainly has been a life changing experience, one that I’m so thankful for.
Looking back to when I first started this journey and to where I am now, I can honestly say that
although along the way, I’ve believed in and proved to myself that I can do it, I’m also quite
surprised at the remarkable transformation that’s occurred…..
Thanks for taking the time and allowing for me to share this with you.