Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga? I enjoy my yoga class but have never tried Bikram Hot Yoga. I have visions of a very hot room and probably passing out during a pose! However, my next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, Erica Henault shares with us how this yoga practice changed her life.
Erica/Erika (there is a story behind the two names and you can read about it HERE) from Behind the Scenery is another blogger I have met who just ‘clicks’ with me. A smile tells me so much about a person and Erica’s smile shows me she is a warm, friendly Woman Over 50 who is living life and in her words is ‘an eternal optimist, a grateful Mom, Wife, Human Being. ‘
You can connect with Erica through her website and social media at the end of your article.
How has Bikram Hot Yoga changed my life?
When Sue asked me whether I would write a story for the “Over 50 & Thriving Series” I immediately thought it is a privilege to be asked to contribute a story to her very inspirational blog site.
It didn’t take me long to decide on a topic. Where have I spent 1500+ hours of my life in the last five years? What has helped me thrive and feel truly alive?
Five years ago
I was not at all interested in Hot Yoga. I was not interested in an environment with funny smells and sweat dripping everywhere. I am not flexible. I would never be able to do the Cirque du Soleil contortions. I don’t even like the heat.
I was wrong!
My daughter, Sara, a personal trainer, has always been passionate about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. She attended almost daily Bikram Hot Yoga classes. She had a guest pass and she asked me whether I wanted to join her one morning. I looked at this as an opportunity to spend time with my daughter. I could tolerate one Hot Yoga class.
The first class
Too hot! I feel like I am going to pass out. Do people have heart attacks in the class?
Stay in the room. Remember to breathe. Stay in the room. Remember to breathe.
The yoga teacher’s words at the end of this ninety minute challenge (insert ‘torture’) : “Thank yourself for attending the class. Stay hydrated. See you tomorrow. Namaste.”
Driving home: Happy to get out of there. Although, that wasn’t so bad. I feel every pore in my body. I feel reborn. I feel truly alive.
The studio was offering a great deal on unlimited classes for one month. I returned the next day.
Five years later
Long term yoga practitioners often talk about how your experiences in the room are a reflection of your experiences in life. Lessons you learn on the mat carry forward into your day and into your life. I did not understand this concept. How does shaking in awkward pose, falling over in balance postures, and forgetting to breathe mimic life?
Five years later, I now get it.
10 Life Lessons I have learned on the Mat
Energy is palpable and contagious.
This becomes even more apparent in a silent room. Our presence in the room helps fortify the individuals in the group. We support each other. We are in this together. We are in life together.
2. The Mirror
Who is this lady in the mirror? Is that what I look like? I see parts of my Dad, parts of my Mom, parts of the nineteen year old girl I used to be. I become the Observer. I am aware of the Space in between.
3. Do your best
“Your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next” (“The Four Agreements” Don Miguel Ruiz)
You may have had little sleep. You may be sick or injured. You may be preoccupied with personal and family challenges. Your best will vary from day to day.
Five years later my body is slightly more flexible. More importantly, I am more flexible with my thoughts. I leave the mat with increased clarity and a fresh perspective. I can tackle the challenges of my day and in my life with a renewed spirit and increased energy.
All branches of yoga are beneficial. We can also do yoga from home.
Attending classes at a yoga studio has many benefits. The presence of the group energy lifts my own energy. Classes teach me to challenge my limits. Removing distractions helps with focus and mindfulness.
I feel more present and in the moment.
Trust in the 5000 year old tradition of yoga. Trust in my body to carry me. Trust in my path in life. Trust in a voice that may shake, yet will make a difference.
The balance postures are a challenge for me. I often fall over. On some days I surprise myself. I feel like I can balance on one leg forever.
I think for many of us, balance is a challenge. How do we spend our precious gift of time? How do we juggle the roles in our life? How do we live a healthy lifestyle?
When I practise yoga I am nurturing my whole self. I am more capable of maintaining a healthy balance emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.
In the age-old metaphorical question, is the cup half-full or half-empty, I am usually a cup half-full kind of person. I am thankful for all the good in my life.
I am also human faced with challenges that deplete my energy and my resources. I do have days where only mere drops are left in my cup.
I recently read an interview with Shaun Achor and he brought up the concept of the pitcher. https://www.success.com/is-the-glass-half-empty-or-half-full/
“Instead of asking ourselves whether we see the glass as half-empty or half-full, what if we focus instead on our pitcher.”
This quote resonated with me. It is more important to realize there is a pitcher nearby. Continue to fill it with all that is positive in life. We have the capacity to refill our glass.
How do I do this? I surround myself with loving family and friends. I lead a healthy lifestyle. I nurture my mind, body and spirit with yoga.
I was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s disease, a genetic disorder, over ten years ago. It affects my feet and hands, including my fingers and knuckles. It is a progressive disease resulting in decreased flexibility, decreased function, numbness and pain. My Dad was very debilitated with this disease the last decade of his life. I want to do everything I can to help slow down the progression of this disease. I accept this is a challenge for me. I do not let it define me.
I have been consistent with various forms of fitness training all of my life. The Bikram Yoga series has had the biggest impact on my body and on my well-being. I focus on what my body can do, instead of what I cannot do.
Everyone in the yoga room is facing challenges. Some challenges are obvious and some are less apparent. Everyone in life has had to overcome obstacles. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
It does always come back to breath. Do I need to be reminded to breathe? At times, I do. I find myself holding my breath. Breath is vital to life.
When we stop breathing, we stop living.
The emphasis in yoga is always “remember to breathe.”
I am thankful my daughter gave me the opportunity to attend my first Bikram Hot Yoga class five years ago.
I am thankful for the students and the teachers at Found City Yoga Studio. You inspire me every day. We help each other find inner strength. We create synergy in a group practice.
Yoga has enriched my life in many ways. The lessons I have learned on the mat and in front of the mirror have carried forward into the rest of my life.
Yoga has helped me thrive and feel truly alive!
Is there something that makes you thrive and feel truly alive? I would love to hear about it!
Sue’s “Sizzling Towards Sixty” Blog Site
I appreciate that Sue gave me the opportunity to write a story on what “Thriving over 50” means to me. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and where I am spending my time, a precious resource.
Sue’s “Sizzling Towards Sixty” blog site contains positive, motivating information educating us on how to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. I often find gems I can incorporate into my life. I find the personal stories relatable and inspirational. Sue is knowledgeable and generous with her time. Thank you, Sue!
I have been living on Vancouver Island with my husband for the last 27 years. I am grateful our two daughters and their families live close by.
My career was in health care as a Dental Hygienist for over 25 years.
I have always enjoyed writing, although I am still new to blogging. My first actual post was in August, 2018, “The year I refused to step on the bathroom scale.” This post is still relevant today. A common thread in my stories is continual learning, evolving, recreating and gratitude. I pay attention and I look for the lessons.
The blogging community has enriched my life. I love reading the stories and interacting with fellow bloggers. I always learn something new and I am inspired every day.
Connect with Erica/Erika