By Tara Johnson: Never in a million years would I have ever thought I’d enjoy yoga. I’m the type that enjoys a good, hard, workout that is fast paced and intense. In high school I was involved in softball and tennis and after high school I took up running. I’m always going for that next adrenaline rush or way to keep my heartbeat up. Yoga, to me, seemed boring and like such a waste of time. Then I got injured. In 2013 I got a fracture in my heel and injured a tendon in my leg while running. I was devastated knowing that I would have to stay off of my foot in order for it to heal properly and that running, or any type of cardio for that matter, was out of the question. I searched and searched for any type of activity that I could still do and stumbled upon Higher Ground Hot Yoga. Still leery on the whole yoga thing, I went in with an eye of skepticism just knowing that I would not like it; that it would be too easy and that I wouldn’t feel like I had even gotten a workout. I was completely and utterly wrong. Hot yoga kicked my butt. And I loved every single one of those grueling ninety minutes. It is not at all what I thought it would be. Yoga is not just stretching. This specific series of 26 postures we do take an incredible amount of strength and endurance that I would never have associated with yoga. I thought I was in good shape and yet I struggled the entire time while looking in amazement at the other students around me who were twisting their bodies and holding postures while ignoring the sweat pouring down their faces in this intensely hot room. The detoxification that took place during those 90 minutes left me feeling like a completely new person as I left that first day, and I immediately new I’d be back; broken foot and all. I spent many months doing yoga on one foot and slowly began to see the amazing healing effects of this yoga. The hot room along with these 26 postures are specifically designed to be healing in nature, and if you talk to almost anyone who has practiced Bikram yoga they will be able to attest of its incredible healing properties. My foot is now better and every time I have a new ailment I know I need to get to yoga. I can come in feeling injured, tired, sick, or depressed and will undoubtedly leave feeling completely renewed. I am now a year and a half into my practice and this yoga continues to challenge me every single time I do it. And yet I keep coming back because that challenge is exactly what I need. Not only have I gained the flexibility that slowly comes with a regular practice but I have also gained insight into myself. I love this yoga and hope to continue to do it as long as possible.
My name is Scott Henning and I just completed a 60 Day Challenge at Bikram Yoga Ogden. The challenge; Do 60 classes in 60 days, if you miss one double up the next day to make up for it.
I have practiced Yoga for some years now as one way to find peace in my life. I started doing Yoga to alleviate back pain and found that it helped with the stresses of everyday life bringing peace through the concentration on breathing and meditation. When I found or should I say was introduced to Bikram Yoga Ogden by my daughter who told me, “You have got to try HOT Yoga!” My yoga practice at home seemed fine and was doing what I needed, but there was a “Free Community Class”, so I decided to give it a try and see just what it was all about.
That first class was interesting. Walking into the studio I was greeted by smiling happy instructors who said, “Welcome to a new life.” I was with my daughter and we joked around a bit then we went upstairs to the studio. I was impressed and a little shocked by the heat in this room where there was a wall of mirrors on one side and a hand rail on the other. It looked more like a ballet studio than any other Yoga place I had ever been to. I found out real fast, early in that first class, the room was designed to eliminate the distractions of the things around you and focus on yourself. The first posture, after a breathing exercise that centered me in myself and cleared my mind, I heard the instructor say, “Focus one point in the mirror and concentrate.” I found that I was looking deep through myself and when the instructor said, “Push you hips forward, lean back.” I did it. I was clearing my mind, listening to the instructions and doing what I was told to do. ”Look at yourself in the mirror, concentrate, meditate.” By about half way through the class, I was like a puppet on strings, soaked in sweat and loving every minute of it. I did as much as I could of each posture, sat out a couple of the second sets, but all in all, I thought it was great. After the class I weighed out the cost of dropping in and decided to do the first time special, because money was tight as it was right before Christmas and I wanted more.
I went back the next day and after the class was talking with an instructor who was visiting from Las Vegas (Jennifer B. the puppet master from the class), telling her about how great it felt and that I was surprised at how deep I took my meditation (I have done a lot of meditation and yoga in the past and have never received as deep out of mind experience as in the Bikram classes.) Jenn put forth the challenge, “If you really want to change your life, try doing 60 classes in 60 days.” (60 Days to Change Your Life Challenge) I had already purchased an unlimited month and am not one to back down from a challenge, so I said, “It’s on!” I really did not know what I was getting into, nor was there anyone but myself who I was accountable to for the challenge. I knew that I was going to have to do some planning to schedule time to do 90 minutes of yoga a day and the other 45 minutes or more to get there and shower afterward. I also had to make sure I was staying hydrated and eating well if I was to complete this and not die.
In the beginning the classes were as tough as I made them for myself. I took each posture to the fullest my body would allow and kept going deeper in meditation. I found that when I could let go of all the thoughts of things outside of the present moment, the yoga practice was easy and the classes just flew by. I found that I was changing not just physically (my weight loss hit a plateau and I started to tone up) but mentally. I quit smoking cigarettes. I found I was staying focused on the things I was doing getting them done faster and with fewer problems. After a few weeks into the challenge the real test happened there was no class on Christmas Day that meant two classes the next day. I did one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I did it! New Years Day the same thing happened and again I followed it with a double. About a week later I decided to try a triple a 6am, 4:30pm and 6:30 pm, I did it but it wiped me out. It took the whole next day to recover. After that it seemed to be all mental; staying up on the things that I needed to do at home, work, with my relationships, diet, getting to the classes and laundry.
Fully focused on making it through the challenge I realized that the end was in sight about day 51. About day 56, I took inventory of what I had accomplished since I started. I lost 3 belt sizes, lost 17 pounds and none of my clothes fit anymore. My relationships are closer and I value the time I do spend with the people who are close to me. I need less sleep at night. I am still not smoking cigarettes. I hadn’t showered at home but 5 times in the last 56 days. I didn’t save any money on my water bill because of all the towels and laundry I did. My girlfriend started going about four times a week and she loves it and looks great. Did I mention laundry? I did another triple in the last week #s 54, 55 & 56, I pushed as hard as I could on the 1st and 2nd classes and was about dying on the third, I was humbled by that and learned some lessons about my Ego and keeping it out. I finished the challenge with a double on the 59th day. Total 60 classes in 59 days, 4 days off, three doubles, and two triples.
Bikram Yoga has changed my life, mind, body and soul, for that I will be eternally grateful. It is my hope that if someone does the same challenge, they find as much about their self as I did. Remember just like life, “it’s the journey not the destination”. I am excited to resume my life, always keeping the lessons I learned about myself close. I will continue doing Bikram Yoga 3-4 times a week, until the next challenge???
Thank you to all the people I met, that encouraged me, all the staff at Bikram Yoga Ogden and my family for standing behind me. I heard of 45 classes in 30 days, any takers?