I can't believe I'm on week 4 of my Bikram practice already. I've been going at least 4 times a week, which hasn't been easy with having company and Thanksgiving holiday preparations. Still, I'm getting over the initial soreness of beginning a new and strenuous practice so I don't want to start skipping now, even though I'm busy.
This week, I've noticed very subtle benefits to practicing 4 days a week. First, during practice, my right shoulder doesn't hurt as much. I have experienced pain in my right shoulder for probably 2-3 years, due to computer work and knitting. Lifting my arm always caused pain but now, I've noticed that during Half Moon and Awkward poses, lifting my arm no longer causes a problem.
As we get older, I think we just kind of get used to the constant aches and pains and stiffness that creeps up on us. I've been exercising steadily for the past 4 years and I've always been a walker but still the stiffness persisted in various joints and muscles. This week, I've really been noticing that my entire body feels better, more flexible and just looser. There is less pain all around, which other forms of exercise haven't shown me.
My neck has also shown improvement. My neck was stiff and painful when going back in the pranayama breathing exercise. The pain isn't totally gone but it's better. During the twisting poses too, I can turn my head further back now without pain.
I am also able to balance better and hold the Eagle and Standing Bow poses for longer. As one instructor told me, I don't have to do the pose perfectly but just get into the correct form and aim to get better each time. Good form is essential even if you don't go all the way into the pose.
I've noticed some hot yoga benefits outside the practice room too. My skin feels softer, I think from the constant cleansing sweat during practice. I am breathing better and deeper. I was hoping to benefit my lungs because I have some chronic asthma and bronchitis which bothers me sometimes.
I think the pranayama breathing exercise is also helping the pain and stiffness in my hands. My fingers have been getting stiffer as the years go by from constant overuse and I know I probably have arthritis in my fingers and wrists. My hands feel much more flexible now and don't hurt.
If you're a boomer, you might see great benefits to the first signs of an aging body if you take up hot yoga. I signed up for another month this morning so we'll see what the next month brings in the way of improvements.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm off to one more practice before overeating at the holiday dinner table. I'm trying to make a couple healthy dishes this year though and have found some great brussels sprouts recipes. I'll take a picture and post the recipe later this week.
If you would like some valuable and free information to help make your Bikram or hot yoga practice all it can be, check out the resources on the Hot Yoga Doctor. There are free videos, a forum to ask questions about anything Bikram related, free downloads and a free and very helpful email newsletter. I've already used so many tips on my technique from the Hot Yoga Doctor and it's really helped me to take my practice to the next level.