Bikram Yoga During Pregnancy
I “happened” into my first Bikram Yoga class. I was living in Washington DC, but traveling in San Francisco on business. I overheard someone in my company talking about a hot yoga class. I was intrigued, having always enjoyed physical challenges (weight training, running and other forms of yoga were my mainstays). I approached my coworker and got the address of the hot yoga studio. (Funky Door in San Fran)
As I entered this studio, I immediately felt a different energy. I must say I was a bit intimidated. The lobby/entrance to the studio was not hot; I’m not sure what I expected. I saw all of these “interesting” people completely wet, both men and women in skimpy attire, milling about.
I sat outside the studio and waited for the regulars to go in. Then I entered my first Bikram studio. I remember thinking, wow this is pretty hot, but since it is yoga, and it is a meditative practice (i.e. not much movement – or so I thought) it should be ok. The class started with breathing and I still thought it wouldn’t be too strenuous. Then, the rest of the now, second-nature, 26 postures started. To be honest, I don’t remember much after that. To make matters worse, I had forgotten my water outside in my rental car, so I went through the entire class – my first class- without water!
I remember going back to my hotel room after the class, ordering Chinese food, barely eating, drinking a gallon of water and falling asleep by 7 pm that night, not waking up until the next morning.
As I woke up I was energized and felt like I needed to try it again. A month later, back in DC I looked up Bikram Yoga on the web and found two studios. I picked one and went. This was a very different makeup of students. A true East Coast crowd vs. the West Coast crew I had previously experienced. After the class I spoke to Jim, the studio owner and developed a friendship with him. Over the next few months, I attended class 3 to 5 times per week while training for a marathon and continuing my weight training. I soon noticed that my running was significantly improved due to the yoga. I ran my marathon, the Marine Corp Marathon, and finished it with ease.
Since my job required a lot of travel, I practiced in every city I went to. It was a pleasure to visit so many Bikram studios and experience the many teaching styles yet always be in the now-familiar 26 postures and hear the consistent dialog.
At the recommendation of my teacher, I started entertaining the idea of attending the teacher training to kick my practice into the highest gear. Its funny how things work out the way they should. All events and situations in my life aligned themselves so that I had a clear understanding that I should attend. So I did.
I can easily say that it was by far, the best experience of my life up to that point. Not only was it an amazing physical experience, it was also cleansing for my soul. I could go on about this forever, but won't for now. Suffice to say, if you want to take your practice and yourself to a level you never thought possible, consider this experience, whether you want to teach or not.
After training my practice was amazing for approximately one year. I was going to class a minimum of 6 days a week (sometimes doing doubles – a practice I had acquired a taste for during training) and I was able to attain a depth in the postures that I never thought my body would reach.
In the following few months I met my soul-mate, Richard, married him after only knowing him for 16 days and moved to St. Louis, his hometown. I still remember the relief when I looked at the Bikram website and saw that a studio had just opened up there.
The moment I came into the St. Louis studio I was greeted with warmth. After a brief conversation with Erin and Carol, and introducing myself as a teacher, I sensed the awesome discipline in the studio. I can’t stress enough how important this discipline is and how it is at the very heart of Bikram’s teachings. My first class here was reminiscent of the teacher training. You see, Carol and Erin expect only the best from you but they are ALWAYS willing to give their best back.
I spoke so highly of this studio that my husband decided to try the yoga. An athlete himself, he was pleasantly surprised at how much he enjoyed it and was challenged by it. Richard will tell you, that after 6 knee surgeries, a couple of car accidents and many athletic related injuries, his body has never felt so good. Now, yoga is part of his regimen along with the other healing practices he has found such as acupuncture and massage.
After practicing in St. Louis for only two months I became pregnant at the age of 39. I am confident that the benefits of a healthy approach to nutrition, a lifestyle inclusive of exercise and the many benefits Bikram yoga made this process an easier one for my body to go through.
I had an amazing pregnancy and throughout it, practiced the yoga religiously 6 days a week. The only day – Thursday – that I did not practice was Erin and Carol’s only day off. As my body changed with each facet of pregnancy, I found myself needing to come to class and stand in the hot room. You see, this was the only place my body felt like my pre-pregnancy body. My stamina was fueled by the yoga. I was not aware of what was to come and how much I would need this stamina through what was a very long (37 hour) labor. I practiced until two days before my beautiful baby boy, Giovanni, was born. And came back to my practice 2 weeks later.
Throughout this time, I spoke to many students and answered questions about this yoga and pregnancy. I even educated my doctor as to the benefits of this yoga. She is now a believer and a proponent of this yoga.
I can highly recommend Bikram Yoga throughout pregnancy with one major footnote. This is not the type of strenuous activity that you should start while you are pregnant. This is a practice to continue throughout your pregnancy IF you practiced Bikram yoga before you became pregnant. You should not start an exercise plan or a practice during a pregnancy.
Bikram Yoga is a life changing experience and I can guarantee it will take you (if you let it) to places you never knew you could go.