DAY 101: Here We Are

Author: thedancingj /

"Beyond the mountains, there are mountains." ~ Haitian proverb


Well, here we are.  One hundred days of yoga, plus one more at the end for good measure.  We did it!

And who are we, these crazy people who took on this enormous task?  We are people from all walks of life.  Our youngest participants were in their teens, and our oldest were in their sixties (or older).  We are lawyers, dancers, bankers, engineers, artists, and bull riders.  We are professional athletes and semi-professional couch potatoes.  We live in Canada, New York, Malaysia, Las Vegas, Sweden, California, London, Australia, and many other cities and countries.  We practice at busy urban studios, and we practice with CDs and space heaters in rural areas.  Some of us have overcome crippling medical conditions, and some of us are just holding our heads a little higher these days.  Some of us have been practicing Bikram yoga for many years now, and some of us have been doing practicing for precisely 101 days.  Some of us are teachers, but we are all students.

We are yogis.

Imagine if we could all occupy the same space for a while.  Imagine if there were more of us.  Imagine if we could fill a city.  What kind of a place would we create?  What would that world look like?


When you started this challenge, it was probably something that you were doing for yourself (or rather your Self).  And I'm certain that you've seen changes.  You're not the same person you were a few months ago.  You are transforming.  You may not be at the butterfly stage yet, but at the very least you are spinning your chrysalis.  (These things don't happen overnight.)  You are taking care of your Self, and it shows.  The people around you are starting to see the difference.  Maybe they've noticed a glow.

I don't think I've used my favorite yoga class metaphor yet.  And it's not "yoga class is a gas station," although that is a very good one.  It's "yoga class is an oxygen mask."  It's one of those silly yellow oxygen masks that's supposed to drop down from the ceiling of the plane if there is an emergency.  You remember the instructions that they give you about those oxygen masks, right?  (They go over this at the beginning of every airplane flight, in every country, so it must be important.)  They tell you that if there is an emergency, you must secure your own oxygen mask before you can think about helping others.  Before you can save the person sitting in the neighboring seat, you must be able to breathe.

So yoga class is your oxygen mask, in every possible sense.  And you've finally gotten your oxygen mask on.  That fresh, high-speed oxygen is now rushing through your body, waking up the cells that were on the brink of death, bringing life and energy to every part of you.  Re-energizing, revitalizing, re-organizing.  You've saved yourself.  You're starting to breathe again.  You're going to be fine.

Now what about that person who is sitting next to you?


It has been a pure joy to watch all of you during the challenge and hear all of your voices.  It's been a gift.  I hope this little community doesn't disperse too much.  All the websites will still exist, and maybe we can come up with some creative ways to keep using them.  It's up to all of you!  You can take control now, I think.

For me, there's only one thing more powerful than doing this yoga myself: sharing the yoga with others.  This can be such a simple thing to do.  Say a few encouraging words to a new student after class; let them know how well they did, tell them about your favorite post-class snack, encourage them to come back tomorrow.  Sit outside the room for a few minutes and compare notes on postures with another regular.  Trick your co-workers into coming to class with you and see if they ever forgive you for it.  Smile at someone in the mirror (but not in a creepy way).  Be a source of calm in stressful situations, when you're the only person in the room who is still breathing normal(ly).  Be a source of support for a friend who's going through a hard time; you developed the strength for this when you stood with your toes on the line every day and looked at your own eyes in the mirror.

The more you give, the more you receive.  As it turns out, this is how the world works.

And if you're really nuts, like me, you might one day find yourself living in a hotel room for nine weeks with 300 other yogis and some crazy 60-something year old Indian dude who still thinks that white disco suits are the height of fashion.  I'm referring, of course, to the nine week long Bikram yoga teacher training program.  I'm going to the next session.  It starts in exactly one week.  It's something that I've wanted to do for years.  For me, this choice was obvious and inevitable.  I'm going to teacher training because sharing Bikram yoga with the world feels more right to me than anything I've ever known.  There are plenty of other things that I could be doing with my life right now, but this yoga thing trumped them all.  At the end of the day, I just couldn't think of anything that was more important or worthwhile.

So that's my journey.  It started years ago (or maybe before I was born), and I'm certain that it's only just begun to unfold.  Your journey will be different, because we all live different lives.  But wherever you path leads you, I hope that yoga will remain in your life as a source of strength, joy, and love.


Juliana Olmstead would like to thank the Academy....  No, but really.  "Bikram 101" has been one of her favorite parts of this decade so far.  (It would have come out in the number one spot if she hadn't also finished grad school and signed up for teacher training while the challenge was going on.)  She promises to blog at least a few times at teacher training (and beyond), so feel free to keep stalking her at her blog.  If her posts become incoherent at some point, it's probably just the sleep deprivation talking.  She thinks that you are all rock stars!!

DAY 100: Write Your Script.

Author: Unknown /

This is my last post in the challenge.

Tomorrow is the final day in the Bikram 101 Challenge. And we are going to be honored with a wonderful final post from a very inspirational yogini. (Enough pressure for you J?!?!)

But I wanted to collect my thoughts for one last post, in hopes that it will provide some inspiration to all of you who are thinking about doing a yoga challenge. So here are my thoughts...
  • The biggest step you take each day of the challenge is simply just getting to class. Once you get to class, the rest of the script writes itself.
  • Never be hard on yourself because you aren't progressing in a pose at a rate you think you should be. This is a LIFETIME PRACTICE. For some of us, Standing Head to Knee pose will take a LIFETIME.
  • It is possible to hold down a full time executive job, maintain a household, spend time with a significant other AND practice regularly. It's all mental.
  • A daily practice keeps you healthy. I practice Bikram yoga to heal my body from all the damage I have done to it, and all the damage I still do to it.
I think the biggest thing that I am taking away from this challenge is how important it is to be fearless and continue to push myself. We each have the ability create our paths and write the script of our lives. But we often hold back, waiting for signs from The Universe. But that is silly. We create our destiny. We choose to show up or not show up for a Bikram class each day and complete the challenge.

Did I do 101 DAYS of Bikram yoga? In reality, no. I will have done 101 Bikram yoga classes IN 101 days. But did I go to class every single day? Nope. There were things I chose to prioritize over yoga some days... Like getting two root canals on two different days... Traveling for work... Needing to sleep because of an overloaded work schedule. But I made up for it by pulling doubles. And I finished the challenge I set up for myself.

This wasn't easy. There were days where I didn't think I would make it through Pranayama. But I pushed through and found the energy. I wrote a mental script in those moments to finish the class. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. And as a Bikram teacher reminded me this week...

"Life begins outside your comfort zone."

It really, truly does.

Some of you may know that I now plan on going to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training this Fall. I have been toying with the idea of going for a few years. But I kept telling myself, "Oh, if I'm really meant to go, I'll receive a sign."

I realize now, though, that I was waiting for myself to give me permission. I didn't think I could be a teacher. That even though I love this yoga, I didn't have what it takes to be a good teacher. But now that I have completed this challenge, I realize that it is time. I am ready.
  • I know I can handle two yoga classes in one day.
  • I look forward to spending time in a hot room each day.
  • I want to teach others how to heal their bodies the same way I have learned.
  • I know the world does not end just because I still struggle with Standing Head to Knee. (Besides, my Standing Bow pose kicks a lot of ass now.)
  • I have what it takes because I know what it is truly like to struggle and grow in this yoga.
It's been wonderful sharing this journey with you all. We've had some amazing guest posters share their stories and thoughts with us throughout this challenge. I hope you all found this to be insightful and educational.

I'm off to go study some dialogue now. I have 23 weeks to learn 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises from a script, verbatim.

It's the one script I can't write.

Day 99: Untapped Strength.

Author: Unknown /

by Diedre Rose DiBlasi

101 days of Bikram yoga is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, but not to be taken lightly. To go through the challenge is to understand directly through experience what it means to change your body and change your mind. We are so much stronger than we believe we are and 101 days of yoga forces us to find and tap into that strength.

As an experienced yogini of vinyasa, power, kripalu & kundilini styles of 8 yrs, I stumbled into Bikram yoga for my first time a few months ago as a way to support a friend new to the practice, and curious about the hot style. I had no idea how deeply I would be changed by it. The heat felt healing to the body and bitter truth of the dialogue medicine to the mind. I found the philosophies behind the dialogue to the parallel the challenges we struggle with in daily life – courage, fear, determination, patience, & discipline. The more of these qualities I brought to my practice, the more they became a part of my total life. I felt that as my practice grew stronger, so did I. There is no hiding in Bikram yoga; no more excuses. I was able to confront and tackle faulty personal belief systems I had put on the backburner for many years and for the first time in a long time, I began to see myself as worthy and deserving of great things. I attribute this change in thinking to Bikram, the dialogue, and yoga sequence. My yoga teachers in St. Charles have been generous guides and role models and I am so grateful and appreciative to have found this practice and opportunity. Additionally, it has been especially encouraging and inspirational to go through this experience with other challengers and share these changes together. Sweat sisters are amazing!

A few weeks into the 30 day challenge my employer announced my job would be outsourced to India this summer. This allowed me to extend the 30 day challenge to 101 days since overtime at work was no longer expected. I am excited for a career change which will give me an opportunity to put these new skills to the test and realize my potential. I am still working toward my own vision of success but know that Bikram yoga will be there to challenge and push me to keep growing stronger – deepest thanks to you Bikram!


Diedre Rose DiBlasi lives in Gilberts, IL and has practiced yoga as a hobby for more than 8 years. She is also an artist and makes yoga and spiritual inspired jewelry and paintings and has ambitions of owning her own business in the near future utilizing her passions. She is looking to connect with like-minded people who want to encourage the pursuit of personal fulfillment in all people. You can contact her at

Day 99: Old Skoolasana.

Author: Unknown /

by Michelle Zimmer

I look forward to writing my monthly blog post.

I think about what I might want to write about, without actually thinking specifically about what I will be writing about...all the time.

Rather often actually. It makes me feel happy to know I have a month to ponder. But, I tell myself, first, don't start sentences with "but"... And second, this time I will not procrastinate!

"Don't wait until the last second to write!" (Just like I did in school...)

But then I do. And that works for me mostly. (Don't start a sentence with "and" Michelle.) So here I am writing (having my mom weirdly correct my grammar in my head) and having no idea what I was going to talk about... Until I started writing, and then I totally knew.

It is a stream of consciousness. (Ooh.. I spelled consciousness correctly on the first go! =) This is exactly how I prepared for Day 45 Valentimes Day as well as Day 66 Shartasana (lol!)

I have assignment habits on the brain... Earlier this week I had the privilege of starting a composter certification class at the New York Botanical Gardens.

("What! What!" I am doing a happy spring dance!)

I have not stepped foot in a classroom since 1990! (And back then I was cutting out to go on auditions - to my drama teacher's chagrin.) Only 15 students are accepted to the Master Composter Certification program a year and I am very proud that "doody" called. I will be a better student this time because I want to be there. Worms and all.

I stopped only grabbing my knee in standing head to knee this week. And only I only grab under the foot now. (Wahoo!) Yesterday I spent most of the day in an Epsom salt bath reading/ruining a Vanity Fair with baaad cramps and a Snickers bar.

I have already done a double to make up for it.

"One down! $@%*& to go!"

That's right...It seems that I haven't changed all that much since my school days. I still play hooky, resulting in my final week being all doubles .

Whhhheeeeeeeeeeee!!! ^_^

MY final class is on tax day (owing on unemployment is fun), as well as the 5 year anniversary of my dad's funeral. (Sigh.) No hiding in my bedroom this year! Nope. I think it will be cathartic to have a positive connection to the date 4/15.

I miss you so much Daddy! I hope you are proud that I got off my lazy "in denial" ass and made a change.

Michelle lives in New York City and originally hails from the Riverdale section of the Bronx. She is passionate about the food, drink and garden industries. She used to think she might be a "vegetarian with sausage tendencies," but recently realized she is more like a "carnivore with a conscience." She considers herself an "Urban Garden Hoe," as she invests a lot of time volunteering in her neighborhood's community garden. She loves the Yankees and constantly invites people to explore the "northern" part of NYC. "You won't get a nosebleed," she promises.

DAY 98: The Best of the Rest

Author: KT /

Day 51: %$@! happens (no post)

Day 52: You can't stop progress!

Day 53: Dreaming of being late represents fear and running out of time. Classrooms represent the need or desire to earn something.

Day 54: Because what is the yoga class (and especially the standing head to knee part of the yoga class), if not one big, long "character building" exercise?

Day 55: We are doing this challenge for a reason. Don't forget that. In the midst of the grind of laundry, logistics, work, family, life and just trying to make it into that room everyday, don't forget that there is a higher purpose to this whole thing.

Day 56: Point yourself in the direction you want to go and one day you'll get there. Progress happens gradually, then suddenly. If you don't show up, you might just miss it.

Day 57: (Wow, nine weeks. Can anyone think of something else that's nine weeks long?! Nine weeks can go by fast.)

Day 58: Yes, we get 90 minutes everyday to get away from all of this while in the hot room. But is that enough?

Day 59: When we come out of that room, we should all realize we have given ourselves another chance for a better life, a new appreciation of ourselves and a way to open up our minds and our hearts to those in our lives- for that we all deserve a gold medal.

Day 60: There's no (more) crying in Bikram.

Day 61: There will always be hard days, fun days, killer days, and rock star days, no matter how long you do this stuff!

Day 62: %$@! happens again, sometimes.

Day 63: I love the kind of people who love yoga.

Day 64: There is really only one rule for Bikram yoga: breathe.

Day 65: Bikram’s advanced series...or how to scare people aware when trying to motivate them!

Day 66: And that's not the point of this yoga. The point is to progress. To go for it. No fear.

Day 67: "You're getting something out," as one of my studio owners told me in my last really bad class. "This is good."

Day 68: Yoga class is a gas station, remember? (Maybe you don't? Maybe I should talk about that next time.) Take my word for it - yoga class is a gas station.

Day 69: You see, while I like those other forms, it's just not the same as the 26 and 2 of Bikram. The dialog, the room conditions, the teachers, the sequence....put together it's magic.

Day 70:'s detoxification & intoxication.

Day 71: When was the last time you saw your body as a whole, instead of seeing bits and pieces of things that you like or things that you want to change?

Day 72: The teacher teaching, though, knew I was half-assing it... She knew I was surrendering to the absence of energy into my mind. Yet, instead of verbally calling me out on it in class, in the second set she did something that helped me get back into line with my energy and pose...

Day 73: “Open your knees, keep 6 inches between your toes, heels knees and hands” - *snigger. Sorry, that line just sounds really dirty [well, ahem, to ME at least. No really, TINK OF IT!]

Day 74: There have been plenty of days where I did not want to be in the hot room. But I use my English bulldog determination to make myself go and throw my mat on the line.

Day 75: It's a lifetime practice, and it's a lifestyle, too.

Day 76: Do not have green shorts or top on. Do not bring a green mat. Do not have a green towel, hand towel, washcloth, water bottle, hair tie. In fact, if you have green eyes, close 'em!

Day 77: pleasure of the pain.

Day 78: Yoga teaches you to love yourself now. Perfection is not the goal. It's not even part of the equation.

Day 79: This is our journey and we are so incredibly lucky to have found this path and to be able to experience its wonders together.

Day 80: Although sometimes we need a little distraction to lift us and get us through a tough moment, it’s important to try and come back and focus on the present, no matter what we may be feeling.

Day 81: I don't even notice the heat anymore.

Day 82: Our yoga is similar in so many ways. It's the same everywhere you go, and it speaks through a universal language - movement - that can bring people together regardless of age, race, gender, or anything else!

Day 83: I don't know how my body will react to each posture, or if the room feels too hot or cold that day, or if the person next me is wandering around their mat. I can control if I'm in the room and focused and if I do that, it's a smooth ride for the whole class.

Day 84: Just get to the room. That is all you have to do. Get to the room. Your body will know where to take it from there for today.

Day 85: And I think the yoga works the same way. At first, we are all just strangers. Then we come to honor and respect one another. Eventually, we are bound together by our sweat (thicker than blood) and become like family. It's strange and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Day 86: "You’re here...that's all that matters. It doesn't matter how well you do the poses. All that matters is that you are here and you try."

Day 87: Each new day is a clean slate; I rise up from sleep and I am in some sense, reborn. Ninety minutes of daily practice teaches me that I have a chance to connect to myself and connect to the Divine. Each new day, I have an opportunity to try again, to reach further, to dig deeper.

Day 88: I would love nothing more than to get over whatever is holding me back and keeping me at my current progress state. I just don't know if I will be able to do it before the challenge ends.

Day 89: We find out how much of the stuff we've been carrying around with us is completely unnecessary. And when we get rid of all that stuff, it feels so much better. It feels great every day!

Day 90: Yoga is the gift that brings us closer to that peace.

Day 91: This Bikram 101 challenge has changed. my. life. period.

Day 92: It means to celebrate each step towards freedom as if it were enough, then to start on the next step.

Day 93: I've developed the patience to recognize that all the things I wish I had are what keeps this yoga challenging for me each day.

Day 94: For the low-low price of $5 a class, I am healing my body in incredible ways.

Day 95: We are each our own creators. What are you going to create with the seven days you have left?

Day 96: We can't control the events that surround us, but we can control the way we respond. And that is what yoga teaches us. We learn that it doesn't matter what environment we're in, what other people say to us, or what happens around us. We can breathe through all of it.

Day 97: Thank you, Bikram.

DAY 97: ...A Bag Full

Author: Unknown /

by Kim Corbett Johnson

I’m lying on the couch debating on going to class or not (in extreme pain, two aspirin and a hot, Epsom salt pack providing no relief) when I recall another blogger’s post about using the class to heal.

I had just completed a double the day before, first time ever doing a back-to-back. I’d experienced lower back pain before, but nothing like this. Not sure if it’s a sciatic nerve issue or not, nonetheless, it wasn’t pleasant.

The day was filled with lots of sad news. Two close friends of mine were dealing with their mom’s failing health. One dealing with newly appointed hospice staff, the other taking her mother to chemo treatments daily. Another friend had been taken to the hospital to spend his last moments fighting with pancreatic cancer. My heart was heavy with sadness and overwhelm with all of this.

As I lay there on the couch, covered with my warm blanket and purring cat, groaning in pain, it struck me that all of these hardships these people were dealing with could perhaps been prevented if they had a regular practice of Bikram yoga. I immediately sprung to my feet, had 5 minutes to get out the door and headed to my class.

My intention for the class was to heal, inspired by my suffering friends. As I lay there on the mat in pain, anxiously waiting for the bright lights to come on, I thought...

“I want more than healing. I want more than what I came for, like when I go to Trader Joes for that one thing and leave with a bag full.”

I didn’t perform to my usual 100%, but I was relieved from pain and left with that centered stillness, came home content and rested, ready to be there for my loved ones dealing with their great pain and sorrow. Thank you, Bikram.


Kim Corbett Johnson, is new to Bikram Yoga, and practices at Bikram Yoga St. Charles. She began 101 day Challenge January 2, 2010, and had attended one class before this. She started with the intention of completing a 30 day Challenge, which looked impossible… And now is thinking about completing a 365 day challenge. She’s the President of a company she started, Enhanced Lifeskills Solutions. She teaches participants proven principles for successful living anchored in the science of synergetics.

DAY 96: The Absence of Control

Author: thedancingj /

It's incredible how little control we have over our lives.

I mean, so many of the things that affect us every day are completely out of our hands.  We don't control the weather. We don't control the tectonic plates.  We don't control the people in our lives - our bosses, our employees, our friends, our family.  Anytime we apply for a job, join a class, or even just step out into the road, we can set off a chain of events that is completely out of our hands.

And we certainly can't control our yoga classes.  We can't control the teacher.  We can't control the temperature of the room.  We can't control the actions of other people in the room.  We can't even control our own bodies, not fully.  They change from day-to-day in ways that we can't perceive or understand.  We might do everything "right" and still get run over by the yoga truck, or we might do everything "wrong" and end up feeling great in class.  Some days, it seems as random as a coin toss.

I purposely didn't describe this as a "loss of control."  I'm talking about the crystal-clear realization that we never even had control at all.

So... so what?  What do we do?

We breathe.

We can't control the events that surround us, but we can control the way we respond.  And that is what yoga teaches us.  We learn that it doesn't matter what environment we're in, what other people say to us, or what happens around us.  We can breathe through all of it.  That's the part that we can control.  Sometimes, it's the only part that we can control.

But it makes all the difference in the world.

95: Seven Days.

Author: Unknown /

That's all we have left, folks. Just seven days.

The bible (if you have ever read it - I'll admit, I haven't) says that God created the Universe in seven days. He took energy and made something tangible with it.

We are each our own creators. What are you going to create with the seven days you have left?

DAY 94: Yoga Math.

Author: Unknown /

Bikram yoga really isn't that expensive.

At the studio I practice at here in Toronto, a single class of Bikram yoga costs $17. If you multiply that times the 101 days I have been practicing, you get $1,717.

Now, if I chose to purchase a 3-month unlimited package ($400) and an extra 1-month unlimited package ($150) - which would get me through the 101 day challenge, it would be $550. Divide that by 101, and it averages out to $5.44 a class.

Not bad. Not bad at all. If you plan on stopping relatively soon after the challenge.

I could have gone with a 6-month unlimited package, which would have ran me $700, covered the entire length of the challenge, and allowed me to easily move into a few months of practicing the five days a week that I want to be practicing here on out. If I divided the cost of this package by the 101, I'd be paying just under $7 for each class.

Again, not bad.

But I chose to buy an annual package on January 1st, the day the challenge started. This cost me $1300. And I get to practice all year. As many times as I want. The cost of this package during the 101 days ran me about $13 a class.

Then, once you factor in the four to five days a week I will be practicing for the rest of the year, it averages out to about $5 a class.

Definitely the most economical solution, for my pocket book, was to go with the 1 year unlimited pass. Much better than paying for each class on it's own. And much better than having to buy passes over and over again. The only way this could have been more cost-effective is if I was a work-study student.

For the low-low price of $5 a class, I am healing my body in incredible ways.

I think it's very much worth the price.

Day 93: I WIsh...

Author: Unknown /

Over the past 93 days of practicing this yoga... I have begun to pay attention to my body and the role each limb plays in helping me execute my poses. And as a result, I have some bodily short-comings.

I find myself wishing:
  • That I had longer arms. Longer arms to make picking up and holding my foot in Standing Head to Knee much easier. In order to get into those pose, I have to lift my knee up, bend over with my fingers inter-locked, grab my foot with my knee sticking out beyond my elbow, THEN maneuver my knee under my chest.
  • That I had flatter feet. I have very pretty feet. But I have high arches. And balancing on feet with high arches is tough! I wobble like mad when I try to balance on what I have touching the floor: heel, ball, toes and one side of my foot. I tend to lean right or left, depending on which way I am trying to correct my balancing. But if I had FLAT FEET, like many people I have seen in class, balancing would be so much easier. More foot on the ground equal more stability.
  • That I had larger feet. I have small feet, given then length of my legs. And whenever I try to push my hips forward in poses, I have the potential to fall forward because I don't have enough foot-coverage for my leg height. (Though, I have worked really hard to keep my weight back in my heels to help combat this! The dialogue is GENIUS!)
  • That I had shorter legs. I've mentioned it before, I know. But I do wish I was longer-torso-ed and shorter-legged. It would make grabbing those feet much easier!
Now... I won't be completely negative in this post, only listing things I feel I lack. Here's my list of things I am grateful for...
  • That I've developed the patience to recognize that all the things I wish I had are what keeps this yoga challenging for me each day.

DAY 92: Dayenu

Author: thedancingj /

Earlier this week, JoJo wrote this very cool post which connected the Bikram Yoga practice to the spirituality of Lent and Palm Sunday.  She wrote beautifully about yoga in connection with prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial.

Shortly after I read that post, I was a participant in a ritual from a different religion tradition, when I attended a Passover dinner at the home of some family friends.  Passover is a Jewish holiday that takes place in the spring, right around the same time as Easter.  The Passover dinner is called a Seder, and it follows a specific structure and order where we read certain passages, sing certain songs, eat certain foods, and retell the story of the Jews' exodus from slavery Egypt - the story that includes Moses, a burning bush, the cruel Pharaoh, the ten plagues, the hasty flight from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and forty years of wandering in the desert.  As the Italian proverb says, "Even if it's not true, it's a good story."  I grew up in a sort of agnostic Jewish/Christian hybrid household, so I've never taken these stories to be precisely true, but the Seders were a regular part of my childhood.

Of all the Jewish holidays, Passover is one of my favorites, because it revolves around a simple and powerful theme: liberation.

At the beginning of the night, we read, "It is said that every person, in every generation, must regard him or herself as having been personally freed from bondage in Mitzraim, the biblical land of Egypt."  We are reminded to be grateful for our freedom, and we honor all people who have struggled or are struggling for freedom.

This theme doesn't just apply to the people of Israel, but to all people.  Bondage and liberation come in all different forms.  Bondage can mean literal slavery, but it can also mean slavery to society, to habit, to other people, and to your own mind.  Liberation can involve a flight from Mitzraim, with the miraculous parting of the seas, or it can involve killing your self (your ego) for 90 minutes in a hot room, until the mental chatter miraculously fades away.  The seas part, the veil lifts, and you glimpse your true Self.

One of my favorite Passover songs is Dayenu.  Dayenu is sung after the telling of the Exodus story, and the word means, "It would have been enough."  Here's a passage from my own (very secular, Unitarian Universalist) Haggadah (book):

"What does this mean, 'It would have been enough'?  Surely no one of these [steps] would have been enough for us.  It means to celebrate each step towards freedom as if it were enough, then to start on the next step.  It means that if we reject each step because it is not the whole liberation, we will never be able to achieve the whole liberation.  It means to sing each verse as if it were the whole song - and then sing the next verse!"

That's "dayenu."  So...

When you stand on the line, toes and heels together, and meet your own eyes in the mirror... dayenu.

When you go into a backbend without fear... dayenu.

When you stand on a solid, locked-out knee for 60 seconds, 20 seconds, or even just 10 seconds.. dayenu.

When you are able to attempt every one of the 26 postures in the series... dayenu.

When you stand a little straighter and walk a little taller... dayenu.

When you breathe through a stressful situation instead of losing your cool... dayenu.

When the old familiar knots and tensions start to melt away from your body... dayenu.

When you spend 90 minutes sweating in a hot room, without ever leaving the room... dayenu.

When you do it every single day, for 92 days...??
Dayenu, dayenu!!

DAY 91: Ninety-one Days

Author: KT /

This Bikram 101 challenge has changed. my. life. period.

Day 90: The Watcher

Author: bikramyogachick /

Social Media serves many purposes. I find it interesting because I feel like I'm getting a peek inside of my friends heads. Take facebook and twitter for instance. People type in thoughts and hit enter, many times before thinking it through. "Do I really want to post THIS?" Twitter is almost like a strange little collective stream of consciousness. One hundred and forty characters at a time of disjointed thoughts, ideas, opinions, and emotions. If we could truly get into each others heads and hear what goes on in there for a full day we'd probably think our friends crazy and they in turn would be appalled at what goes on in ours!
We are not our thoughts though. That stream of consciousness that flows during the day is not truly who you are. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, songs that rattle through your mind, all of the "noise" is not you.
Yoga helps us to tap into that deeper layer of consciousness. I like to think of it as the ocean. The top of the water is choppy, churning, sometimes violent, always moving. At the bottom of the ocean, where all is still, quiet and deep, lays "the watcher". This is the other part of us that observes. This is the part that takes over during the 90 minute moving meditation that is Bikram. The watcher is what pulls us through a tough class. Our minds, like children, will start to wander. "It's hot in here. My shorts are riding up. That girl has amazing postures. Man she's keeping us in postures forever today. My contacts are jacked up today. Crap I can't balance today. Look at mr. cutie in the back row....." The watcher interrupts the chatter and reminds you to breathe. You are brought back to the room, your focus returns and your mind quiets. If you are like me, the mind does not stay quiet. The 90 minutes is an exercise in constantly returning to focus. When it's all over, we lay in savasana, quiet, sated. If we are lucky, we are able to take that gift and use it the rest of the day. Able to stay calm and focused in other segments of our day, not just yoga.
The mind chatter is what makes us human. The watcher is what reminds us we are also spiritual beings, able to connect with something beautiful and powerful. Able to get out of our own head and find peace, even if just for a moment. Yoga is the gift that brings us closer to that peace.

"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
Mark Twain

~~Bikramyogachick completed 74 days of the 101 day challenge. Due to unforeseen changes in her life, she had to drop out of the challenge, but will never drop out of Bikram Yoga. She has been practicing in Las Vegas for 3 years, blogging for 2 and has completed several 60 day challenges and a 99 day last year. She will post her full bio this coming Saturday. She is VERY proud of all that are continuing down the road to day 101 and is your biggest cheerleader!

DAY 89: Shedding Skins

Author: thedancingj /

Is a theme developing?  Yes, I think so.  But I'm just gonna go with it...

Today I changed my appearance.  I now have very short hair - pixie cut!  I did a "transition" hair cut last month, when I got my hair cut to a short-but-curly length.  (It had been almost down to the middle of my back.)  I loved the shorter hair, but it was still long enough that it moved around and I needed a headband for yoga, and it grew out really fast!  So today I went back to my hairdresser, Nolan, and told him "SHORT," and he agreed.  It is now completely different from how it was at the beginning of February, and I like it.

I said two things today that Nolan appreciated.  First, when I was talking about taking off the remaining length, I told him, "Now it just feels like I have all this unnecessary stuff!"  Then, when I was describing how much I've been enjoying my shorter hair, I said that "I love it every day!"

This is not a bad metaphor for yoga.

We find out how much of the stuff we've been carrying around with us is completely unnecessary.  And when we get rid of all that stuff, it feels so much better.  It feels great every day!  Like snakes - cobras, maybe - we shed our old, used up skins, discard them, and never even give them a second thought.  A snake never misses its old skin after it's gone.  There's no sadness for the passing, no regret, only joy and lightness.

I love it every day.

DAY 88: Releasing Old Patterns.

Author: Unknown /

From the first time I practiced this yoga, I had quirks and habits in class.

  • My mat had to be in a certain spot in the back row, towards the right side.
  • I had to have a hand towel to wipe my hands and face throughout class.
  • I wore pants, a sports bra and light-weight tee or tank top.
  • Fall out of Standing-Head-to-Knee after about 25 seconds of holding my feet.

This evolved, after about two years to...
  • Front row mat-placement. Left side.
  • Still rocked yoga pants. Only strictly with a tank top.
  • Had to have a Vitamin Water immediately following class.
  • Fall out of Standing-Head-to-Knee after about 25 seconds of holding my feet.
Two years and five months into my practice...
  • Shorts and a sports tank.
  • No Vitamin Water. Replaced with coconut water.
  • Moved mat anywhere and everywhere that I could find a spot.
  • Fall out of Standing-Head-to-Knee after about 25 seconds of holding my feet.
This past list is where I continue to reside in my practice, in terms of patterns and habits. I have
advanced in all of my postures. Just not Standing-Head-to-Knee. Sure... There are moments when I can hold my leg the entire time. And I can always kick out. But I fall out after a few seconds of trying to stabilize.

This pose is the bane of my existence. And I would love nothing more than to get over whatever is holding me back and keeping me at my current progress state. I just don't know if I will be able to do it before the challenge ends.

Releasing old patterns may take my whole life.

DAY 87: A Spiritual Journey

Author: Unknown /

by: Action JoJo

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the end of the season of Lent. As I walked out of church clutching my palms, I recalled Deacon Greg’s homily:

“They are a reminder - and an indictment. While we were standing here, crying out "Crucify him!," we were clutching the branches that we used to sing out "Hosanna." The palms reveal our very human duplicity. How easily we turn. How quickly we pivot from faithful, to faithless...from belief to doubt...from being disciples to being betrayers.”

My spiritual journey these last forty days of Lent have been a continuation of what I started 77 days ago when I started my Bikram 101 challenge (I began on January 9th). In fact, there are so many parallels between practicing Bikram yoga and my Catholic faith.

No matter where I go in the world, even if I don’t understand a lick of what is being said, I can still participate in the 26 plus 2 or the Mass. Some days, I am totally disconnected or distracted while other days I walk out feeling sheer exhilaration, heightened awareness, and pure inspiration. I hear the words uttered from the person in the front yet I am certain that I internalize those words differently from the person next to me. I move as one in the crowd yet we are all at different points in our journey. As things draw to a close and I find myself on my knees – in camel or after receiving the Eucharist – I feel the most vulnerable yet the most connected to the Divine.

And at the end, I receive a blessing: Namaste! May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is advised that Lent be spent in prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial. This year, I found it easier to do these acts since I’ve been practicing them for 90 minutes in the sweat box daily.

Prayer? A 90-minute moving meditation.

Penitence? As I work my way through the tightness and 18-years of scar tissue in my knees in fixed firm, I find myself saying, pleading, “Please knees, forgive me for what I’ve put you through. I promise, I won’t abuse you in the way I used to. Please open up, please release, please heal.”

Almsgiving? I may not be giving wealth but I certainly give my energy and focus to those around me. “Oh no neighbor, please don’t sit down! Stay strong! Here, I have some energy, take it! Come join us when you are ready.”

Self-denial? “No mat. No water. No towel. No hair. No costume. No fidgeting. These things are all irrelevant to your practice. All you need is breathe and stillness,” one teacher always tells us in between postures.

When I first started practicing, I thought she was certifiably insane but now I’ve come to realize that she’s right. I’ve discovered a pattern with myself: when I’m uncomfortable – too hot, too weak, too frustrated – I am not still. Denying the body to move in mountain pose and savasana helps to still the mind and strengthen the spirit.

I am reminded daily of my humanity: my imperfections, my shortcomings, my inabilities. How is it that in the span of a day my body is different, my mind is different, my practice is different? How is it that I can balance on one leg today and fall out of it tomorrow? How come I touched my forehead to my knee in Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose yesterday but I can barely graze the tip of my nose to my knee today? Whaaaaat?! I have become aware of how easily I do pivot from praising myself to berating myself, from believing in myself to doubting myself. It’s really incredible how quickly my mind turns on me.

“Your mind is like a rabid dog,” one teacher said. Yes, I see that now.

Yet despite these quick turns of my mind, I have also discovered daily the one constant that never changes. Inevitably, at some point in the 90 minutes, I experience doubt, panic, or weakness. I find that despite these feelings, I still have the mental clarity to search into my dark eyes in the mirror, to take a deep breath, and reach into the deep well within myself, and access the power that I know I have but don’t always believe in. It is the Divine within me, the Spirit that is greater than my humanity. When I tap into this well, I know that everything will be alright, that everything happening in this moment is all that is supposed to be happening, and to accept and be at peace with it even if it is not happening the way I want it to happen.

Next Sunday, the season of Lent culminates with the celebration of Easter, my favorite holy day. The period of fasting and waiting is over. At Easter, I rejoice in the message of mercy, hope, love, and renewal. Easter reminds me that I have to go through suffering, tragedy, and pain before I can be renewed.

Bikram says, “In order to get to heaven you have to go through hell.”

In order to kill my “self” as thedancingj wrote earlier, I have to peel the layers away like the skin of an onion. Each new day is a clean slate; I rise up from sleep and I am in some sense, reborn. Ninety minutes of daily practice teaches me that I have a chance to connect to myself and connect to the Divine. Each new day, I have an opportunity to try again, to reach further, to dig deeper.

Yoga means union of mind, body, and spirit; communion with God and communion with each other. Faith is the same no matter how you practice it. So whether my hands are in prayer at church or in half tortoise, I ask for grace from the Divine so that I may be compassionate, merciful, loving, and at peace towards others but most especially, towards myself.


ActionJoJo has been a practicing Catholic all her life (except for that momentary lapse in college when she thoroughly questioned and eventually reaffirmed her faith) and a regular practitioner of Bikram since March 2009. A native New Yorker, she practices regularly at Bikram Yoga Union Square and is welcomed on the weekends at Bikram Yoga Astoria. Outside of the sweatbox, she enjoys eating, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her family. She dreams of hosting her own travel show and becoming a bikram teacher one day. Find out how she stays out of trouble at and check out some of her travel videos at

DAY 86: "You're Here..."

Author: Unknown /

"... That's all that matters. It doesn't matter how well you do the poses. All that matters is that you are here and you try."

These are words I often here from a few different Bikram teachers up here in Toronto. And I find them to be undisputedly true.

I have been practicing this yoga for over five years now. I started doing it because I read an article in 2004 about Jessica Simpson and how she was practicing Bikram yoga. I looked into what exactly it was and the philosophy behind because I was having back pain a few times a month.

I don't believe in taking pills (unless for infection)... And I had tried acupuncture to help heal my back - which worked, except that you have to keep coming back to see long-lasting results. No, I wanted something that was going to strengthen my back. So I tried Bikram yoga. And it worked. Back - STRONG!

So I have always seen this as a "healing yoga." Sure, it's a nice workout... I come out of class with tired muscles, sweat dripping from me, and a nice calorie burn.* But my body is incredibly efficient. Or rather, it's much more efficient than what it was before I started doing this yoga. And since this challenge started, it's even more efficient.

Here are the things this yoga has helped me heal over the years:
  • Back
  • Wrists (I used to have REALLY weak wrists. Now I can do some push-ups.)
  • Fertility (Holy crap! I ovulate on a very precise schedule! Should I ever want to have a kid, I know exactly when to try each month.)
  • Pulled muscles (A year ago, I badly pulled a calf muscle the doctors said would take weeks to heal. I was fine two days later. Perfectly fine.)
  • Digestion (You can't put a price on regularity.)

Though I have seen ailments heal themselves, this yoga has actually caused one to start in my body:
  • Acid reflux
  • Wheat Intolerance
  • Dairy Intolerance
I think these two things have shown up, though, because as I am "healing the body, inside out," it has decided that some of the food I put into it just ain't cool.

"Why are you fucking with me, asshole?" is what my body says to me in class on a day when I've had a few pieces of vegetable tempura and a Coke Zero. (This is my favorite lunch.)

After eating some pasta with a spicy arrabiata sauce, followed by a bit of Greek yogurt, my body responds with, "You dumb whore! Now you will have that burning sensation in your chest and throat for hours. And it will combined with a slimy feeling from the dairy!"

My body really pays attention to what I put into it now. And as a result, I have to as well. Because my body is now trained to immediately begin processing what I put into it.

All because I showed up to class to heal.

*Before the 101-day challenge, I would burn about 750 calories in class. But now that I have begun coming every day, my body has adapted. Now I burn about 550.

DAY 85: The Third Cup of Tea

Author: thedancingj /

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family..."
 - Balti proverb **

There are many traditions around the world where the sharing of food and drink is the ritual that turns strangers into friends.  This is just as true in the modern "first world" as it is in the remote mountain town of central Asia.  How many relationships have you developed over cups of coffee, glasses of wine, or lunchtime sandwiches?  Some of my most precious friendships were sealed over pickle spears and potato chips (although "Three Bags of Potato Chips" has not caught on as a proverb or book title yet.)

So what about shared sweat?  What about that strange intimacy that you develop with the stranger who stands next to you as you spill your guts out for 90 minutes, as you tell the story of your life through your movement and your struggle and your sweat?

Sometimes we practice our yoga next to strangers for years, without ever knowing their names.  Sometimes we know the name of everyone in the room.  Regardless, there have been so many people who I felt that I came to know through our shared time in the yoga room.  Sometimes I would never even know them by their first name.  But I knew their body, their breath, their focus.  I read a quote from Emmy once where she said, "If you ever want to get to know someone, bring them to a Bikram yoga class.  By the end of half moon, you'll have found out everything that you'll ever need to know about them."  What a thought!  We are so exposed, all of us nearly-naked together, doing our best.  Sometimes we don't even notice the other people in the room because we are so focused on our own practice (and those days are great).  But we're all on the same boat!

I like that Balti proverb, because it lays out the path from stranger to family.  And I think the yoga works the same way.  At first, we are all just strangers.  Then we come to honor and respect one another.  Eventually, we are bound together by our sweat (thicker than blood) and become like family.  It's strange and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

** This quote is taken from the title of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.  It's a phenomenal book, and if you haven't read it, you should.  It's about this hiker-turned-humanitarian who builds schools for kids, especially girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This guy was just one person, with nothing to his name, and he ended up achieving something huge and important.  Incredible story.