I roll my eyes a fair bit when people try to tell me about the cult side of Bikram. I am well aware of Bikram Chaudry and his probably deserved reputation. I don’t blindly agree with or believe everything that Bikram yoga studios say (in fact I had a bit of a disagreement with my own studio on Facebook the other day). I’m not a sheep; I have for example pulled back on my half-moon pose as I do not believe that it is a good idea to start back bends that early in the class.
However, Bikram yoga is forever in my heart. First of all, for getting me through increasingly tough times at work and school — whereas I used to go into meltdown mode when I had too much work dumped on me by my boss (he seems to thrive on giving me too much to do), this week, I woke up, assessed the situation, decided to request an extension on my essay so that I could stop worrying about it for now, then faced my work duties calmly, reminding myself that even though I get scared of the heat in Bikram, there’s nothing I can’t do if I just remember not to panic. And I am getting through it, more or less.
Recently I haven’t had time to go to Bikram as often as I would like; probably once or twice a week instead of three or four sessions. I’m eating a lot more, partly because I’ve stopped being terrified of putting on weight (thanks Bikram!) and partly because it’s cold cold cold, and partly because, hello office job. I admit, I felt really vulnerable when I was getting changed for class tonight, and I wished I had a t-shirt to hide behind rather than have to face my body in the mirror wearing just a bra and teensy shorts.
But then I entered the studio and basked in the heat and turned to face the mirror… and I saw I look perfect. Nothing to change. This coming from someone with years of destructive, negative body image, is huge for me. So yep, I’ll keep my “cult”, if it means I am more mentally resilient and balanced and at peace with myself…