While I’ve been following a strict running programme since January, my Bikram Yoga practice has suffered. On Monday night, after 10 weeks off, I finally plucked up the courage to head back to Bikram…
It was gruelling. I had forgotten how much of a heart-pumping, limb-stretching, sweat-inducing workout it is! To try and combat the inevitable stiffening up, I headed back for more on Tuesday night… and even so, come Wednesday and still today, the back of my legs and glutes are feeling it.
I can’t believe how out of Bikram shape I feel! It’s clear that I have a lot of work to do, to undo all of the tension that my rigorous running regime has built up within my body and regain the flexibility I had at the beginning of the year…
So, to remind myself why I put myself through it, I thought I’d revisit some of the basics of Bikram, and why it is of benefit for runners, and others alike.
Here’s my ABC of the benefits of Bikram Yoga:
- A is for: Agility and Alignment – This practice is the perfect antidote to running, helping with loosening up those tight hamstrings and improving general stretching. The postures and stretches elongate the limbs (the opposite effect to running) and encourages you to stand taller, stronger and prouder.
- B is for: Breathing and Balance – Regular practice of Bikram is proven to increase lung capacity, which is obviously great for runners. The focus on breathing within the class also enables you to move more easily into a meditative state, with the mind and body working in harmony – a great skill to adopt during long-distance running especially.
- C is for: Core strength and Concentration – Lots of runners choose to practice Bikram to build core strength and stamina. It’s a great overall exercise for the whole body (and mind). The series of 26 postures works through the entire body, and helps focus on core strength by encouraging you to keep your tummy tucked in throughout (ostensibly to protect the spine).
- D is for: Discipline and Determination – Bikram commands an amazing amount of focus and discipline in order to get the full benefits of each posture. As you enter that meditative state, the mind is emptied of all thoughts, giving you the mental strength to keep going longer. Again, another great tool for long-distance runners.
- E is for: Energy and Everyday wellbeing – Regular Bikram practice is detoxifying and energising. The benefits are far more than about fitness, with evidence that it supports digestive, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, lymphatic, nervous, immune and skeletal muscular systems.
So, I guess the main ABC lesson of this blog is to find that happy balance between running and Bikram practice and you can only reap the rewards!