Bengal Tiger Strength , English Bulldog Determination
Cindy Glass , owner of Bikram Yoga Raleigh, was welcoming and excited to share with me her enthusiasm for Bikram yoga. Like some others, I have been a hot yoga skeptic (so much sweat!), but after a conversation with Cindy and her students I am definitely more open to the idea of integrating it into my practice every once in a while. My main fear of hot yoga was "Are they educating the people who walk in the door about the dangers of hot yoga?" My concerns included dehydration, over stretching, pushing yourself too far, over-hydrating! So many things to take into account! And the answer is YES! After talking with Cindy for over an hour I learned more than I could have imagined. First, the reason the room is 105 degrees is to bring the environment to be more like it is in INDIA. I also learned that Bikram Choudhury specifically designed Bikram Yoga for the West. He came here and observed and experienced how we live our lives and created a very specific 26 series of postures and 2 breathing exercises. He recommended doing this series every day to best balance the lives we lead here. Much like Ashtanga, you do the same asanas every single time you practice. This also allows the practicioner to measure self growth. I know for some this is all old news, but I personally never took the time to ask these kind of questions, other than.. "So how hot is the room again?" I am glad to know it's not all about the sweat.
I probed some other areas that I had wondered about with the amenable Cindy. I asked her how the notion of yoga as a competitive sport integrated with the non-competitive aspects of yogic personal development. Little did I know, I was about to be in a room with yoga athletes who may be eligible and capable of competing in the Olympics should yoga become an Olympic sport. As Cindy talked about the competitions in which her students had participated, her glow became even greater. I could tell this is where her real passion resides. I asked her what it was about the competitions that she loved so much and why there was such an initiative to make yoga an Olympic sport. "The whole idea of making yoga a sport is to bring it to the forefront, to spread awareness of it's importance to all athletes! It is so inspiring to see all of the people come to the competition, some because of their love for yoga, and some out of pure curiosity. But no matter what the reason we are all there for yoga." Her enthusiasm is truly contagious.
Walking into a Bikram yoga studio is a completely different experience than any other studio. As soon as I walked in my glasses and camera lens immediately fogged up and i couldn't breath! In fact I turned around and walked right out of the room saying, "I don't know about this". Cindy smiled and said "You will get used to it! Just breathe slowly and allow your body to adjust." After a few minutes my lungs relaxed and lens defogged and I was actually starting to like how warm I was. It didn't take long to realize that these yogis are in fact some of the most agile and strong athletes I have ever seen. They have all devoted themselves to this one common love of yoga and practice. Even after their two hour Advanced Bikram Practice they all stuck around to practice their 3 minute routines of the 5 basic asanas and 2 of choice. Their practice is not for the faint of heart. It is demanding, and very physical and is truly inspiring. Here are yogis who work so hard for something that they love, and encourage others to push themselves to succeed as well. The teamwork among them was evident.
Bikram yoga is a beautiful little world nestled next to Neomonde's on Strickland road. I encourage you to go and experience it for yourself, and an experience you will have! You will enjoy Cindy's enthusiasm and passion, the awesome sight of the yogis at work, and the workout of a lifetime. It was warm (!!), welcoming, and challenging all at once and I take my hat off to each and every yogi who practices here. I learned so much about the practice, the culture, the teamwork, and about this wonderful studio- and so will you!