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.

DAY 84: Best of...the first 50

Author: KT /

Day 1: Every now and then, remind yourself that you're not trying to "kill yourself" by being better than the other guy, by being more aggressive, or by suffering the most. You're trying to "kill your Self" and find the Divine part of you.

Day 2: No. That truck doesn't care who you are, what you have eaten, how hydrated you are or how long you have been practicing. It will run you over occasionally.

Day 3: And that is how classes go sometimes. "Lifetime practice," they call it. You can practice for many years, and you're going to have days where you struggle.

Day 4: "You abuse your body, eventually it will correct you on what it likes and does not like."

Day 5: The Bikram community lost one of its own in the last hours of 2009. A deeply fabulous senior teacher, seminar leader, and true Bikram yogi by the name of Ren Soriano...Across the board, there is one sentiment that keeps being repeated: he is still with us. He still lives in us. We won't forget him. We honor him by living our lives the way he would have wanted us to live. He is with us.

Day 6: Slowly but surely we, as a group, started to get into the groove. We started to open, like a flower petal blooming.

Day 7: I've told myself, "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 8: This is the upshot to the cumulative: Bikram claims that once you've stored up enough points, you can cut down to two or three classes a week or even "lay off for whole month", and just live on interest.

Day 9: It's a marathon, not a sprint. Just get there. Just go to the studio, lay down your mat and let the teacher guide you through the class.

Day 10: Trust yourself. Know you will be ok. Breathe. See what happens when you get out of your own way. Surrender.

Day 11: "NOOOOO!" I screamed. I walked to the door and looked from him down into the darkness of the descending stairwell. "DAMMIT!"

Day 12: I am so amused and delighted that the "twenty-six and two" can still surprise the heck out of me.

Day 13: When you have a class where you are one with the dialog you know it. It's the best feeling in the world. This is why I fell in love with Bikram yoga and no's a beautiful 90 minute moving meditation.

Day 14: "No," I said back, loudly. "It's my ass muscles! They burn!" She laughed. I think other people did too. It was hot. I don't exactly remember other people.

Day 15: We get so excited for every single person who taps into the power of Bikram's yoga. They all matter to us. Everyone is cheering, everyone cares.

Day 16: “Who are we, not to shine?”

Day 17: We've all been there; we've all experienced the negative spiral of emotions that sometimes ensues in the yoga room.

Day 18: And already my body is showing the signs of a Bikram Yoga Challenge...the piece de resistance... My Bikram Stigmata!

Day 19: We know that we're investing in our futures, and the investment is a solid one.

Day 20: Can you transform your whole life in 60 days?

Day 21: ...endurance is coming back. It's been great. I'm seeing my poses stabilize right before my own eyes.

Day 22: "Do your practice and all is coming." I always loved that.

Day 23: There are some teachers that are commonly known throughout the Bikram community. Diane Ducharme. Craig Villani. Mary Jarvis. Lynn Whitlow. These are amazing senior teachers that are very well respected and well loved in our wonderful little community.

Day 24: I started to argue that bulls are much stronger than yoga, but that’s not true. When you put 33 students in a yoga studio, yoga just gets stronger.

Day 25: I love that simply changing where I put my mat offered a new challenge in my practice.

Day 26: Yes, "fresh oxygenated blood"! No kidding.

Day 27: The series of 26 and 2 is really all your body needs.

Day 28: You know what they first, then yoga & iPhone are simultaneous, equal, 50-50.

Day 29: Tomorrow as we lay our mats down and honor our challenge by hitting our 30 day milestone, it would be wonderful if you could think of my friend and send light, love and healing her way.......

Day 30: Feeling good? I bet you are!

Day 31: It doesn't matter how beautiful you are. How much money you have. How people look up to you. How many friends you have. How successful your career is. How much power you have. All those things that might seem important "out there" are worth nothing inside Bikram’s torture chamber.

Day 32: I found myself BAWLING in the floor series. Not because I was in pain. But because I was suddenly sad. I don't know why... But my body wanted me to cry. So I did.

Day 33: The room is too hot, the room is too cold, the room is too empty, the room is too crowded, the carpet stinks, the lights are too bright, your water bottle is heating up, and that dude really needs a shower.

Day 34: So it's OK if you cry. And it doesn't even have to be after Camel. Let it out!

Day 35: The opportunity is there, but one must have the courage, tenacity and desire to take it.

Day 36: We compress. We extend. We flex. We point. We stretch. We SWEAT. We move our bodies in ways that nature intended. No props. No modifications. Just you. Just your body, your determination. Your guts. Your glory.

Day 37: The only thing people in the hot room really have in common is that they showed up that day. But for all of us those same 90 minutes are completely different.

Day 38: How far my journey down the path of yoga will lead I can't tell. But today I caught a rear glimpse at how far ago this journey started and I feel blessed.

Day 39: I promise, I'm no wizard.

Day 40: I'd rather talk about yoga than myself, but today I will talk about myself. And yoga.

Day 41: Continuers come back. Once a day, once a week or something in between. They come regularly. They have an open mind and want to learn. They continue. They do their yoga continually.

Day 42: Some things are gonna' hurt like hell--don't be scared.

Day 43: When good people compete with each other - not against, but with - without malice or pettiness, everyone improves from it.

Day 44: After all, you are doing this for yourself and not to prove anything or receive some sort of award.

Day 45: Don't even get me started on what it feels like to do rabbit with my DD's and with this gut that used to be a 6-pack. "Stop judging and breathe normal." Breathe normal? It sounds like I'm motor-boating myself!

Day 46: When I do certain poses, certain memories come back. Not bad memories. Just random ones.

Day 47: It was a wild, disorganized, and wonderful weekend, all in true Bikram style.

Day 48: Now I don't know about you, but doing yoga so many days in a row sometimes the dialog can sound like the teacher on charlie brown "wah, wah, wah, waaaa" That's no good. We need to listen to the dialog like we are hearing it for the first time.

Day 49: Resist the urge to take that habitual sip of water right before Fixed Firm (ummmm...yes, I'm talking to you).

Day 50: Take my hand, and we'll make it, I swear!

DAY 83: Making Shapes.

Author: Unknown /

by: Greg Stockdale

I had a very interesting discussion with a teacher a few weeks ago about the difference between practicing Bikram yoga vs. making shapes with your body. This topic came up as I was lamenting my lack of flexibility, and complaining that there are so many students that are more flexible than me. While many of these students are indeed very good, a few of them are just, well, making shapes. Having a good practice isn't just showing up and moving your body into different positions for 90 minutes. Just imagine doing the postures in the right sequence in the heated room, but add in loud music, people talking, wandering around the room, leaving the room, drinking water whenever they want, etc. Do you think you'd get a lot of that class? Of course not!

Of all the things I pay attention to when I'm practicing, it all begins with my focus. When that's good, then the breathing is good, the discipline is good, and the class just flows. If my focus goes out, you guessed it, I start just making shapes with my body. My focus is the thing I have the most control over. 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.

Greg has been practicing Bikram Yoga since August 2009. He has completed over 230 classes in 220 days since starting and has handled numerous physical ailments since he started. In between classes, he lives and works in Las Vegas, where the temperature outside is sometimes hotter than the yoga room. He has his own blog at

DAY 82: Wherever You Go!

Author: thedancingj /

I watched one of my all-time favorite short videos on YouTube last night, and it made me think of Bikram yoga.  It's the "Where the Hell is Matt?" video, in which this guy travels around the world and does the same silly dance everywhere he goes, with all the different people he finds.  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!

I've seen this many times and it still never gets old for me.  Enjoy!!  (It's definitely worth clicking through to YouTube and watching in full screen HD, by the way...)

Day 81: Heat? What Heat?

Author: Unknown /

Time is flying by! We only have TWENTY DAYS LEFT!!!!

Now that we are 80 classes into this challenge, I have to say...

I don't even notice the heat anymore.

Do you guys? I mean, I know it is there. I can feel it. But it definitely does not distract me from my practice like it used to. No more dizzy spells. No more getting tired. Now, when I fall out of poses, it is purely because my hands slip or my muscles are shaking and can't hold me anymore.

But the heat?

What the hell is that?

DAY 80: Baskin Bikrams.

Author: Unknown /

by: Stephanie Marek

So I’ve never actually been to a Baskin Robbins, but everybody knows their original claim to fame was having 31 different flavors of ice cream. According to their website, that number has since grown exponentially. And if you’re lucky enough to be near an actual store location, you can go in and they will let you TRY as many flavors as you want by giving you samples on little pink spoons. Pretty cool!

Well at a recent yoga class, on my little pink mat, I got a sampling of some of the different “flavors” Bikram has to offer. It was a class during which I experienced MANY distinct sensations! So many, in fact, that I know this post is going to end up sounding more like a list of ice cream flavors rather than an eloquent piece of writing. Oh well, I’m just going with it! :)

#1. “HUNK-A CHUNK-A HALF MOON HUNGER” During this posture my stomach felt like it was gnawing on itself and I kept thinking about all the things I wanted to eat when I got home. This is not the first time I’ve experienced the pangs of hunger in Half Moon. I like to practice on a fairly empty stomach, and many times it’s just really apparent in this posture specifically. Fortunately, the feeling never stays with me through all of class. (Is there a logical explanation for why that is? Fellow yoga dorks, feel free to comment back with any insights.)

#2. “SURPRISINGLY SWEET HANDS-TO-FEET” A few weeks ago I was getting praise in Hands-to-Feet and I could tell I was making some progress towards locking out my knees. But lately that has stopped and I’ve been feeling like I’m actually regressing a little in this posture. Therefore, it was a DELIGHTFUL surprise when during this class something opened up in second set and I experienced an awesome full-body stretch! Let me tell you, I felt like I could have stayed there all night! It really was sweet!

#3. “ARCTIC AWKWARD FREEZE” I‘ve heard that the more easily you break into a sweat, the more efficiently your body is at cooling itself. I was already working up a great sweat by the time we got to Awkward, and I did feel a nice coolness despite there being no breeze in the room. Recently I’ve been kind of hating Awkward, but this made me actually dig in and enjoy it!

#4. “STANDING SERIES SUPREME WITH TERRIFIC TRIANGLE SWIRL” I felt really satisfied by pretty much my whole standing series in this class. Despite falling out of postures probably as much as I normally do, I had a lot of energy and was really focused on trying the right way. And then the cherry on top of this Bikram Sundae was that I felt like I had tremendous strength in Triangle! Normally, I pretty much loathe every second of Triangle. (I swear getting my hips down low enough will be the death of me!) But for once it seemed like I was nailing that “perfect upside down ‘L’ ” on each side and I had enough strength to stay in the posture for the whole time. This was a nice change for me- perhaps my favorite flavor!

#5. SLOW CHURNED FLOOR SERIES WITH FOOT CRAMP CRUNCH” Once the floor series started it seemed like an entirely different class. My energy and strength were zapped. I was moving really slowly in and out of postures because the lower half of my body felt like lead. On top of that, my feet were cramping up horribly throughout all off spine strengthening. There wasn’t a single Savasana where I could keep my toes together and let my heels fall open while on my stomach; I had to keep flexing my feet back against the floor as a counteractive measure. These killer foot cramps returned later during final breathing and prevented me from even doing the first set.

#6. “CAMELL-O HELL-O JELL-O” After having gotten over my initial fear and dislike of Camel back when I first started practicing, I’ve become one of those people who actually likes this posture. In fact, I love it and usually feel really good in it. But in this class Camel harkened back to my early days of practice. I was really shaky and weak; my legs might as well have been columns of Jell-O. I was quickly getting down into Savasana to make “the dizzies” stop. In a way though, it was cool to experience this again now that I’m more confident in this posture and can trust it. (By “trust” I mean basically knowing that I’m not going to die.) This wasn’t my favorite flavor, but I’m actually glad I got to try it again.

#7. “FAMOUS J’s RED-HOT RABBIT” (That’s right, fellow 101 challenger and one of the main authors of the Bikram 101 blog, thedancingj, has been immortalized as a Baskin Bikrams flavor!) By the time we got to Rabbit that nice coolness I experienced back in Awkward had been obliterated. My skin felt like it was being scorched and I really thought my face just might MELT OFF! But during this time I recalled J’s recent post where she talked about how although we will always feel discomfort in class every now and then, to some extent we have a choice about suffering. So I decided to just acknowledge that I was feeling really hot and go with it; I was uncomfortable but I was not going to suffer. I even smiled a little remembering how in the same post J was downright gushy about her love of Rabbit. :)

#8. “WET & WILD HEAD-TO-KNEE WITH STRETCHING” Normally towards the end of class I’m no longer aware of how much I’m sweating. I’m soaked to the skin no matter what. But during this class my upper body was noticeably raining on my legs in Head-To-Knee with Stretching. Each time I leaned forward I felt the heavy PLUNK, PLUNK, PLUNK of sweat beads dripping down. It was nice and juicy!

I could go on and on with the list, but it’s probably time I talk more about what I think all of this means. Other than showcasing my penchant for making up silly names for the postures, it tells me that on this particular day I successfully stayed present for the entire class. It’s something our teachers always remind us to do, but it’s easier said than done. Far too often those outside thoughts creep in and our minds drift away from what’s actually happening in the hot room. 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. This hyper-awareness really connected my body and mind, and I quite enjoyed it! Some sensations I liked, some I didn’t, but it reminded me of one thing for sure: With all the different “flavors” Bikram has to offer, I’ll never get bored!

In closing I would like to pose a question to all those who are reading: What’s the name of YOUR favorite (or least favorite, most unusual, etc.) Baskin Bikrams flavor??? I want to know! This is a call to my fellow yogis to flex that creative muscle between your ears and comment back! Looking forward to hearing from you all! :)


Stephanie hails from the lovely western Massachusetts. She is completing the Bikram 101 Challenge at Bikram Yoga Northampton, where she began her practice in October of 2009. When not in the hot room she loves spending time with family, friends, and her cat, Buddy. She also enjoys dining-out adventures, writing, shopping, and anything relating to either The Wizard of Oz, Sex and the City, or Lady Gaga. Stephanie currently works in the field of advertising as a full-time Media Buyer, but she hopes to one day complete Bikram Teacher Training so that she can turn her passion for yoga into a career. This is Stephanie’s first challenge and you can read more about her experience at

DAY 79: Dwelling, Dreaming, & Concentrating…

Author: Unknown /

by: Heidi K.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” --- Buddha

The individual journey that we all experience together in the Bikram Yoga room are each very unique, changing, and challenging and follow us outside the yoga studio, whether we like it or not. When we are in the hot room, we are to use our body over mind; to listen only to the teacher’s words and to allow our bodies to do as they say. It must be a tremendous thing as a Bikram Yoga teacher to watch so many people all in the same room all going through very different things at the same time and to have such influence on those experiences, encouraging patience, progress, and change.

The quote that I am sharing today is one we should all try and remember each and every time we set foot into the yoga studio (and every other place, for that matter.) When we are struggling through balancing postures, do not dwell in the past and give that second set all you’ve got. When we are feeling overheated and lightheaded, do not dream of the future posture coming up (in my case Camel!) We must remember to concentrate our minds on the present moment of where we are in each and every posture, whether we are able to fully balance in standing forehead to knee or not; in each and every way with our co-workers or family members, we must remember our breath and our yoga. Whether our forehead is touching the floor in separate leg stretching (or not), or whether we can or cannot “lock the knee” or are still working on that solid lamppost base, we must remain in the present.

What we must remember and be mindful of is that each and every day, whether it is a “good” or “bad” day, we are on this spectacular journey through our bodies and minds and are learning so much from our instructors, each other, and ourselves through each and every breath we take. This is our journey and we are so incredibly lucky to have found this path and to be able to experience its wonders together. Happy Bikram 101 yoga-ing!


Heidi, a Community Banker by day, lives in Portland, OR and practices at the SE Moreland Bikram Yoga studio. This is her fourth year at this studio and had practiced several years prior to finding her “yoga home.” This is Heidi’s first challenge and she hopes to one day attend teacher training and open her own Bikram Yoga studio to continue sharing her passion for this wonderful practice. She is inspired daily by all those that practice alongside her and loves discussing love, food, and life! You can follow her at her personal blog, Asanas, Sweat, Love, Life & Relationships.

DAY 78: Hey, Good Lookin'!

Author: thedancingj /

I had a really fun class this morning!  The room was full of energy and everything seemed to be flowing in the right direction.  My body felt great.  (Think is has anything to do with this challenge thingie?!)  And I had a funny moment when I peeked in the mirror to check my arms in triangle pose.  Out of the blue, I thought: "DAMN!  I look GREAT!!"

Now, my point here isn't that I am super good looking - that's neither here nor there.  My point is that it feels really good to suddenly see your body in the mirror and think, "Wow, look at what I'm doing.  Is that really me?  That's crazy!"

Yoga is supposed to teach you to love yourself.  It's not supposed to feed your ego or teach you vanity, but it's supposed to teach you to genuinely love and appreciate yourself, the way you would love and appreciate a good friend.  Since January 1st, I think it's safe to say that everyone has gone through changes, big or small, happening gradually or suddenly.  And though the journey's not over yet - would you ever want it to really end? - it's wonderful to appreciate where we are and what we've accomplished.

Yoga teaches you to love yourself now.  Perfection is not the goal.  It's not even part of the equation.  So when you peek in the mirror, see if you can notice the amazing things that have already happened.  Don't wait to fall in love.  You don't have to play that game.  You know the game I mean, right?  "It'll all be great when I lose 10 more pounds."  "It'll all be great when I finish this project."  "It'll all be great after I've done 22 more yoga classes."  Forget that stuff!  Don't wait for a different body, a different day, a different person.  You're already there.  And you look great.

(And if there are still changes that need to be made... well, that's fine!  Because if you love yourself today, then you'll only want to do what's best for you tomorrow...)

DAY 77: Bikram Haiku

Author: KT /

Bikram Haiku:

mat down on the line
strong and silent in the heat
pleasure of the pain

Day 76: Happy St. Pattys Day! Don't forget to wear green, except when going to yoga....

Author: bikramyogachick /

If you've been hanging around the Bikram community for any length of time you probably have heard that you should not wear green when taking class from Bikram himself. 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! (just kidding about the eyes)

Bikram considers green bad luck. If you are considering going to teacher training don't pack any green. In fact, don't wear blue shorts and a yellow top because blue + yellow = green. If you have something you are unsure of (hmmm, is this aqua, or green??) then don't bring it. If you have to question it, it's going to look like green to Bikram.
Why does he consider green bad luck? I asked long time beloved teacher John Salvatore this question via facebook yesterday and received this reply:

Here is the story:
As you may know, Bikram's guru was Bishnu Ghosh. Bishnu's eldest son died in a fire trying to save his friend, that unbeknownst to him, had already gotten out. He was wearing a green shirt that Bishnu told him not to wear because it was considered bad luck.

So there you have it. Happy St. Patty's day everybody!

John Salvatore hails from NYC and is currently teaching in Las Vegas. He performs for the show "The Jersey Boys" on the strip. He doesn't teach very many classes per week, but the ones he does teach draw a large crowd. You can expect an awesome class full of humor, compassion and heat! John likes it hot and humid and you will come out of his class a whole new yogi!

DAY 75: Saints and Crazy People

Author: thedancingj /

I can't believe how quickly the end of this challenge is approaching, and the guest posts are just getting better and better.  How am I supposed to follow that last one?!  Thanks a lot, Robert!

As this challenge rolls along towards April, I've heard quite a few people lately saying, "Wait, but what do we do when we get to the end?  I feel like I'm just getting to the good stuff!"  If that's you, then good!  Great!  Keep practicing!  Maybe your friends think it's just a little bit crazy, but there's nothing wrong with practicing almost every day.  It doesn't have to be part of a "yoga challenge."  If you need to call it a Challenge to keep yourself honest, that's okay, but I always see the Challenges as jump-starts more than anything else.  Once you have momentum, it doesn't take any extra effort to keep cruising along at the same speed (disregarding the effects of air resistance and friction).

It's a lifetime practice, and it's a lifestyle, too.  Outside of Challenges, you just don't have to worry about "rules" and "make-up classes."  Check out what Bikram has to say on the subject:

          "Bikram," asks Lavinia stiffly, "who wants to get into something they've got to do for an hour and a half every day for the rest of their lives?"
          "Who told you that?  Did *I* ever tell you that?  Anyone who tell you you got to do Yoga every day for rest of life, or that they do full set of Yoga every day for years, he crazy or saint or both.  Regular people like us,, we got to worry about the garbage disposal don't work, Tommy's scout troop has a picnic, there's a good movie on TV - important things like that.  So some days we can't do.  That's perfectly okay if you did your Yoga right to start with."
        ~ Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class, pg 12 (1st edition)

All saints and crazy people... please raise your hands.

(I'm not raising my hand, because I often do "only" six days of yoga a week so that I can go on a hike, clean my room, go to a movie, or whatever.  Even at teacher training we will only be doing yoga six days a week - though five of the other days include doubles!)

Of course, some people are probably just looking forward to sitting on the couch eating popcorn for a week and catching up on Lost.   :)