I had a fainting episode in the blood donor chair about 4 months ago, since then things with my head and neck have been all out of whack. It’s been extraordinarily frustrating, excruciating migraines, spots in front of eyes, some nights spent in tears of pain. I’ve tried the physio and massage to help the problem with little relief. Being such a sensitive area with so many nerve endings unfortunately I can’t receive any sort of dry needling or acupuncture directly into the area. About 3-4 weeks ago, I started seeing a new chiropractor and finally experienced some relief. Around the same time I first saw my chiropractor I also started doing Bikram Yoga.
Last week, I was “too busy” to attend yoga. I felt a serious backward slide in my neck, back and head health despite visiting my chiro 3 times that same week. I attended practise last night and woke this morning feeling much clearer and noticeably less sore in my neck. Could it be that the primary key to improving my neck injury could be practising Bikram and not visiting the chiro? Whether or not, I don’t really mind, I love Bikram and the way it makes my body feel and I absolutely can not wait until the next time I step into the hot box. That’s my story, just a little something to consider for those with chronic neck or back pain. If you are not yet aware of Bikram Yoga here is a quick intro to get you familiarized but trust me when I say, you know very very little about Bikram yoga until you have experienced it for yourself.
Bikram is a 90 minute yoga sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises designed to work and open every entire muscle in the body. Performed in a room at 40°C heat and 40% humidity Bikram Yoga is incredibly challenging even for the ultra-fit. Bikram yoga is instructed only by Bikram certified teachers who have completed 9 weeks of intense training which includes practising Bikram twice a day for the whole period and memorizing a set dialogue that teachers recite in every class.
1. Weight loss – Pretty self-explanatory, 90 minutes of intense yoga in 40 degree heat and your body will burn a lot of calories. A typical “burn” for a Bikram session is 500 to 1000 calories. On top of that Bikram helps to build muscle which will boost your metabolism.
2. Back Pain – As mentioned above, Bikram yoga is designed to open and work every muscle in your body. This includes those key muscles in your lower, mid and upper back that support your skeletal system. There is also a lot of forward, back and side bending that works the vertebrae in every direction helping to develop a healthy spine and nervous system.
3. Skin – After your first Bikram session you will notice an immediate improvement in the quality of your skin. The excessive sweat helps to open your pores and cleanse your skin from the inside out, allowing natural lanolin to release through your pores and preserve or even improve your skins elasticity. The sweat and opening of pores also helps to act as an exfoliator to rid your skin of dead cells leaving your skin feel soft and unblemished.
1. Prepare – Bikram can be a taxing and overwhelming experience and a certain amount of preparation is recommended before hand. First and foremostly, increase your water intake to ensure you are well hydrated entering class. It is also suggested to eat lightly no earlier than 2 hours before class. Going into class with a full stomach can make practise fairly uncomfortable and can leave you feeling nauseous and sluggish. Personally I find I feel best eating a light lunch around 4 hours before practise.
2. Listen – Focus on the instructions your Bikram teacher is giving you. The instructors have useful constructive criticism to offer that will help you get the most out of every posture and your practise overall.
3. Body Awareness – Don’t be afraid to make the 90 minutes of Bikram all about yourself. Spend the practise focusing on your body’s requirements. If you start to feel faint, overwhelmed or any sharp pain, rest and take the time you need to recover. Every practise is a new experience and should be approached without standards or expectation. Always remember that the hotbox is a place free of judgement.
4. Be Happy – Most of all, try to enjoy your practise. Free your face of tension and bring a light smile to your face. Thank yourself for taking the time out of your busy day to do something incredible for your body, mind and soul.