I woke up this morning with a physical need to strap on my running shoes and fly down the streets, my heart thumping to the music as the scenery passed me by. It was my day off from yoga, both teaching and taking, and lately on these days I feel antsy and unable to really relax without doing something that will make me sweat a bit. I haven’t run in about a year and it felt truly joyous to step into something I have done since I was a kid to stay in shape and relieve stress. It was hot and humid out and I may have gone faster than I should have, but it felt somewhat effortless. As I was headed up the last block and started to cool down I thought to myself, “Thank you Bikram Yoga,” and smiled.
I had someone recently ask me, “Is Bikram Yoga all you really need or should I be doing more?” I have gotten this question before. Students always ask me if I have other fitness activities that I do to stay in shape and the answer most weeks is, no. Bikram Yoga usually covers all of my bases – cardio, strength training, endurance, and flexibility – you name it and it’s in the system. That being said, I have always been an active person long before yoga came into my life, and though most people believe that all I think and do is yoga, yoga, yoga, I do have other things going on and other interests that I may not talk or write about.
I guess my answer to the question is, it is up to you and what your own personal goals are. For me it is enough. It’s a rare week that I need more than what my practice already provides. I practice an average of 4 classes a week (sometimes more, very rarely less) and teach 6 to 8 classes on top of that, which is a great deal of time in the hot room. I feel healthy, strong, flexible, and full of energy. It’s enough.
If you want to run a marathon or become a body builder, you have different goals that require a different kind of training. This does not mean you should abandon your yoga practice though – it will help you to stay focused, maintain flexibility, protect you from injury, and increase your stamina. I have witnessed athletes from every sport imaginable establish a regular yoga practice and believe that the traditional Hatha Yoga postures of the 26/2 Bikram Yoga Series are intended to heal and unite the body, mind, and spirit in a positive way.
What I have found through my yoga practice through the years is that it prepares me for anything. If I decide to go for a run, I do it and don’t even blink an eye at the thought. It’s not hard or arduous. I am not out of breath or wishing for it to end. I simply run, enjoy it, and move on. This also goes for long hikes and walks, weightlifting and strength training, or if I suddenly feel like checking in on my dance skills. It’s all there for me to call on when I need it because I have a regular yoga practice that is a priority in my life. Lately, I’ve been dreaming about taking up rock climbing and learning how to propel down a mountain and though, I will no doubt be sore when I start, I also know that I am in the right physical condition to give it a go and see if it is something I will actually enjoy. Why not?
The yoga will help you appreciate the body you have. The longer I teach, the more I am realizing that it takes a student about a year of regular practice, getting into the hot room at least 3 times a week, for the I-hate-my-fat-lazy-no-good-damaged-junk-body thoughts to go away and be replaced with something else entirely. In that year you realize how awesome your body truly is and what a gift it is to live within the confines of it during your life span. The more positive the thoughts we think, the more positive the body, and the life inhabiting it, for that matter, can become.
So, my words to you today, is don’t think too much. Enjoy your yoga practice. Always look to learn more, for there is always more to learn. The more you learn, the harder you will be working, cultivating even more strength, flexibility, and mental determination that will affect every part of your life. If you feel like going for a run, then go. If you feel like learning how to kickbox , why not? Enjoy the health you have worked so hard for each day during your yoga sessions. The yoga is your tool to help you enjoy your life in every way to its fullest capacity and well into your later years. Let your life be the adventure you always wanted it to be.