Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bikram Yoga - Week 3 and Goals

I start my day with Dandy Blend instead of coffee.
I've now started week 3 of my Bikram yoga workouts. In a way, it's getting easier because I've gone at least 4 times a week so consistency is helping. My balance is getting better and I feel more energy after the workouts instead of being wiped out. Many of the poses are getting easier as well.

I remember when I tried Bikram before, I thought it would be easy to get hurt because there isn't much explanation in the script. Well, I was wrong about that. If you listen very carefully to the script, then everything you need to know is there, plus the instructors I've had all add some good tips to help with technique.

It helps to stay focused and present during the entire class. I try not to drift off and just go through the motions without really listening.

I've also been reading my email newsletters from the Hot Yoga Doctor, which give tips to get the most out of practice. One I learned recently was about "Lock the Knees!" which instructors say many times during a class. In regular yoga class, I was always told not to lock the knee by pushing back on it. According to the Hot Yoga Doctor, lock the knee means to "Engage your quadriceps until the kneecap lifts and your leg is solid with muscle strength."

I started doing poses this way and it was a totally different experience than just trying to lock my knee joint and push back, which could cause injury.

Some of my own goals for my Bikram yoga practice include:

Increasing flexibility - for boomers this is especially important. Flexibility helps keep arthritis and all those aches and pains of aging at bay.

Tighten my core muscles - Core muscles are important for helping us maintain balance and protect our spine as we age. Bikram has already helped me in that aspect as my stomach muscles are much tighter now.

Lose weight - I lost about 9 lbs this past year by simply eating less meat and I'd like to lose about 5 more pounds but it isn't my most important goal. If I can tone up and tighten up, that would keep my clothes fitting nicely and I'd be happy with that.

Clear stress and calm my mind - Doing a good workout really relieves stress and as we age, stress can take its toll, causing many age-related disease like high blood pressure and it even contributes to disease like Alzheimer's and cancer.

Focus and discipline - Just going to practice 4 times a week takes discipline and I feel better about myself than when I was letting my yoga practice slide. Being present during the 90 minute practice is great for teaching focus and concentration.

Strengthening my neck and spine - As we age our spine becomes less and less flexible and Bikram helps improve both strength and circulation to the spine and therefore the nervous system.

These are just a few of the goals I have at the moment for beginning a Bikram practice. I know these will change and evolve as I go through the weeks ahead and I can't wait to see what other benefits I stumble across as I practice.

If you've been practicing Bikram yoga for a while, I'd love to know what benefits you've received.

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