by Lauren Wells, Digital Media Manager
———- It was my first Bikram yoga class. In fact, it was my first yoga class. After having spent the day listening to forewarnings from my friends and co-workers — who described hot yoga as ‘brutal,’ ‘slimy,’ and ‘borderline torturous’ — I was skeptical, to say the least. Although I’d also been told of the powerful, transformative effects of hot yoga, I wasn’t sold on the idea of surrounding myself with minimally-clothed strangers and intentionally placing my body in uncomfortably awkward positions.
Yet, there I was, standing in the 105-degree room at Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh. As I found my eyes in the mirror, they seemed to be asking only one question: “What are you doing here?”
Ninety minutes later, the answer to that question became simple. Still today, I cannot tell you exactly what happened to my mind in the hot room during my first class. However, I can tell you that I left feeling more energized, content, and optimistic than I had felt in years. It was a small — yet powerful — beginning to a transformation. The thought of shifting into a better version of myself became instantly intriguing, and I knew that a return to the studio was imperative. The rest, they say, is history.
Three weeks and nine classes later, my life has already started to change in ways I never thought possible. My thoughts, once chaotic and overwhelming, are calmer. My posture is gradually improving. Unhealthy cravings and desires are slowly inching their way out of my mind.
More than anything, I feel lighter. The heavy emotions that have plagued me over the years — all of the sadness, the anger, the jealousy, the guilt — are diminishing. As humans, it seems normal to go about our daily routines carrying negative, purposeless emotions without even a second thought. Through my yoga practice, I’ve realized that, while it may be difficult, it’s okay to let go of these self-destructive feelings. It’s okay to start over. I am a different person each day I enter the hot room, and I am a different person when I leave.
My message to you may be hard to believe — it may even be far-fetched. Still, my message to you is this: give Bikram yoga a try. Challenge yourself both physically and mentally to replenish your mind with positivity and to free it of the weights that have been holding you back. Take some time to yourself to experience just one class — I guarantee you’ll leave feeling different than you did upon entering.
Should you choose to make the leap and venture into the world of Bikram yoga, I give you three parting disclosures. Prepare to sweat more than you ever have in your lifetime. Prepare to be challenged — and possibly confused. Most of all, prepare to embrace the changes you’ll begin to see in yourself. Your mind and your body will thank you for it.