26 poses done in a heated room in hopes of both cleansing and strengthening the body. The practice of Bikram yoga originating from Asia soon found its way across the world and has quickly been adopted as a meditation tool for the mind, body, and soul.
This past Saturday, I was blessed with the opportunity to try out Yoga for the first time. Yoga is a practice, originating in India, which focuses on both your mind and body. The class was sponsored by Tranquini, which is a beverage company whose relaxation drinks are filled with natural ingredients. I asked my sister to join me as she had a better understanding of it as she’s delved into Pilates – which is similar to yoga but more focused on strength conditioning.
Arriving on an empty stomach – as is recommended by anybody that’s about to do yoga – we entered The Yoga Republic, which is a quaint yoga studio found in Randburg. A quaint atmosphere, beautiful drawing lining the walls and the beautiful open sky; what more could you ask for on the first Saturday of spring?
My first bikram yoga class was going to be a warm one. Literally. The Bikram Yoga class we were scheduled for was Hot Bikram 26 Yoga, which is done in a room temperature of 30-40°C. This is contributed to the practice being developed in a country that sustains relatively high temperatures year-round. For first-timers such as myself, the heat helps prevent any injuries. The heat is then used as a tool to increase flexibility and deepen awareness of breath. Furthermore, as we do the bikram yoga, we learn how to detach ourselves from external factors in order to function.
As the name suggests, there are 26 poses under Hot Bikram 26 and each serves to – strengthen and tone different parts of the body, increase blood circulation, promote determination and establish patience. Listed below are a few of those 26 along with their benefits:
1. Standing Deep Breathing
This is the first pose of the practice. It encourages us to use 100 % of our lungs, which can prevent respiratory problems- like bronchitis. The stretch also increases circulation, preparing our body for exercise.
2. Hands to Feet Pose
This is the first pose I had difficulty performing. Nonetheless, the instructor emphasized that we should only stretch as far as we can. With this, both our spines and legs were strengthened.
3. Awkward Pose
The description is really in the name. From squatting low to squatting lower on your toes, holding this uncomfortable position strengthens and tones both your arms and legs. It also increases blood circulation in the knees and ankle joints.
As we twisted our bodies, we supplied fresh blood to our sexual organs and kidneys and simultaneously strengthened and stretched our thighs, hips, shoulders, and back.
5. Standing Bow Pose
This was definitely the hardest exercise of the day, but there’s just something about yoga that reinforces your determination. It also helped with balance and posture.
6. Balancing Stick
Aside from balancing, this pose increases circulation and improves blood flow to the head.
7. Triangle Pose
One of the most significant exercises, affecting almost every single muscle and organ in the body; stimulating nerves, veins, and tissues.
8. Tree Pose
This pose helped to increase my patience as my foot continued to drop and it took everything in me not to give up. It also strengthened my internal oblique muscles, helping to prevent a hernia.
9. Dead Body Pose
This is the first exercise that was not done on our feet. It gave our bodies an opportunity to relax and return our blood circulation to normal.
10. Cobra Pose
One of the most familiar yoga poses improves menstrual symptoms like cramps and can also cure appetite loss.
11. Bow Pose
This pose increases oxygen intake as it opens the rib cage where the lungs then greatly expand.
12. Camel Pose
As the spine is stretched out, the neck’s flexibility is improved and as uncomfortable as it may look – it relieves backache.
13. Spine Twisting Pose
This is the only exercise that twists the entire spine and with that comes an increase in circulation and nutrition to spinal nerves.
14. Blowing In Firm Pose
This is the final exercise of Bikram Yoga. It is a breathing exercise that removes toxins from your system and it cools the body down.
The class certainly brought me out of my comfort zone and through that, I learned a lot about myself-especially when it came to patience and perseverance. My desire at an attempted balance in a 40° room reflected my desire to balance myself beyond the room. As soon as I stepped through the doors, sweat-drenched and all, I felt lighter, cleansed and completely rejuvenated.