This is a bittersweet post for me. I originally wanted to do a post about the medical benefits of Bikram Yoga, which I will get to here in a bit, but first I have to say that my son and I have made the very difficult decision to stop doing the yoga.
We started doing Bikram two years ago this month. Shortly after my surgery to remove the cancer from my pancreas, I started researching places to do yoga in my area. I knew nothing about Bikram Yoga, except that it was hot yoga. I wanted to do yoga because after an eight-week recovery period from my surgery, I could barely move. I was very stiff and sore, and had limited mobility.
I have always hated to exercise; I have tried running, cycling, weights, aerobics, and even doing push-ups and sit-ups in my home. I have purchased just about every single home exercise machine, only to have them become expensive coat racks. I even did the Wii Fit regularly, but never really saw any results.
Bikram Yoga was the first and only exercise regimen that has ever resonated with me, and I love it. My son loves it, too, and he is such a prodigy. I guess it helps to start at age 11, when you are still very flexible.
However, lately, we have not been able to make it into the studio regularly. I pay for Liam’s membership, but I get mine free through a work/trade deal that I have with the studio. I clean the studio every Saturday afternoon, and I get unlimited yoga. Pretty sweet, right?
Well, not when you can only get in once or twice a week. Since Liam started the 7th-grade this year, his homework load has been enormous (he is in all Honors classes). Plus, his PE classes are pretty intense, so he gets good exercise every day in school, and he does not always want to go do yoga after school. I am lucky if he can make one class each week. Sometimes it is two, but often, it is not even once.
And with my new work schedule, I am even more limited to when I can get into class. Right now, there are three possible days that we can get into class; of those three, two are actually feasible.
So, Liam and I had to talk about whether or not this was even worth continuing. Financially, I am having trouble paying for his membership right now. Even with my work/trade deal, it has become a drag to clean the studio every week when we don’t even use it anymore. So, it seems reasonable to say that it would be best to stop. Even for a little while. Now is not a good time to continue.
Except that, I give a lot of credit to my health and survival to Bikram Yoga. Part of the reason that I am so healthy after battling cancer, apart from my diet, is that the Bikram helps to clean out my blood and organs, provides fresh oxygen to every cell in my body. It cleans me out and regenerates me from the inside out. I would guess that after about 1 ½ years of consistent practice, even getting in once or twice a week is still benefiting my body.
In each class, yogis sweat out toxins (heavy metals, pollutants, free radicals), and brings fresh oxygen to the brain, which then releases serotonin, which regulates mental well-being. The constant sweating cleans the body out so much, that one no longer even needs deodorant if one practices consistently enough (trust me on this).
Each of the 26 postures in the series provides different benefits that help with the circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems in the body. The postures also work different muscle groups to tone and strengthen the body. It is a great cardio workout in a 105 degree room (more often, 110 degrees), that trains you to focus and relax while working hard. Not only do the cardio and muscular systems get worked-out, but the organs are exercised, as well. There are four postures that specifically target the pancreas, which obviously benefit me.
I, personally, have gained tremendous flexibility in the two years that I have practiced. I have also kept off all of the weight that I lost after my surgery. I do not eat as carefully as I used to, and I have a rather large appetite, so I credit Bikram Yoga with keeping my weight in check.
Also, I truly believe that the yoga is helping my son through his most graceless years. He turns 13 in a couple weeks, and we all know that age brings awkwardness and growing pains. He is the most laid-back 13-year old I have ever met, and I think that the yoga is partly responsible for that. Plus, the benefits to the muscular-skeletal system has helped his posture, and might explain why he is already a 5’10 string bean.
Perhaps I should give this more thought. After all, even if we practice once or twice a week during the school months, we can still go back to four or five days a week once summer comes. I really would hate to give it up, but it feels fruitless now.
If I could make it to class more often, then I would have more mental clarity right now.
I think I’ll just do a long Tree Pose and think about this some more.