Linda, a mother of three grown daughters and grandmother to three grandchildren who has been doing Bikram yoga for 13 years recalls that she encountered Bikram yoga almost by chance. She says, “I hadn’t heard anything about it. It had the word yoga in it, so I just went to try it,” so she and her daughter did their first Bikram class. “It was a shock,” Linda pronounces, although she also recalls, “it was immediate love. I felt euphoric; it was like having a brand new skin.”
“I was turning 50 years old and starting menopause.” She becomes suddenly animated on the subject, “people always think the heat’s gonna get ‘em – but it’s just so good for you. For women going through menopause, they can’t imagine going in a hot room, but that’s just something in their heads.”
A trip to the dentist prompted Linda to return to Bikram yoga. Her hygenist, who was also a Spanish dancer, claimed she never went to the gym and relied on Bikram yoga to keep her in good condition. So, Linda returned to Bikram yoga determined to do 40 classes in 40 days.
“There were times that I tried to walk away,” Linda elaborates on her many returns to her Bikram practice. “I was into Hatha yoga, before doing the specific Bikram series. I like pretty yoga: candle light, and music, and lying with a blanket on me. But, I can’t walk away from Bikram; it’s so dependable & structured. I’ve come to love the silence. I always have to come back.”
There were some times when Linda didn’t want to come back: her first Bikram experiences were coloured by the sights and of sweaty men! “Linda also recalls someone saying to her, ‘it’s really bad for you to be in the heat.’ “So, I stopped going, again,” she admits.
“Then my husband got cancer, so Bob and I went together to a Bikram class. He walked out. Even so, he said ‘sign me up for a year.’ That was 8 years ago.”
Linda gives Bob a lot of credit, not just for doing the yoga and taking care of his health, but for encouraging her to remain dedicated to her Bikram yoga practice: “My husband’s consistency keeps me consistent. It’s great for us as a couple; we encourage each other.”
While many people complain that they don’t have time for yoga, Linda unflinchingly assesses her challenges making it to class: “I have a lot of time. That’s not my challenge. It’s using my time wisely. It’s making it a priority and taking the opportunity that you have.” She adds, “I’ve upped my classes in the last month, and it makes me want to go more.”
Not only does Linda make a habit of going to Bikram classes with her husband of 42 years, but she has also started taking her grand-daughter, Sophia. “She’ six and a half and she’s my little buddy,” Linda proudly proclaims, “she’s my little art buddy, and, now, she’s going to become my little yoga buddy.”
“I love being a mom. It’s just the best. Being a grandma is even better – it’s a chance to be an even better mom” Linda has noticed that Bikram yoga has made it possible for her to be a better grand-mother, the kind she wants to be: “I don’t want to be the kind of grandmother who’s in a rocking chair and can’t enjoy their grandchildren. Bikram yoga helped me get on the floor with my grand kids and play; lots of women my age can’t believe that I can get down on the floor.”
Linda knows that Bikram yoga has a lot to do to with her energy, health and youthfulness.” I’m not a sickly person. I’m not having to recover from injuries. I’m not having to battle arthritis. I’m watching women my age – all they talk about are their physical ailments. At my age, I don’t have complaints. It just blows my mind.”
She’s noticed the calmness that follows her through the day as well: “You’re standing in line at the grocery store and you’re breathing; you’re not getting impatient. If I don’t practice, I don’t know who I am; I’m tired and irritable.”
Bikram yoga doesn’t just calm the mind; it’s also very stimulating to Linda’s creative pursuits in water-colour painting and mixed media. “After a yoga class, I feel like I need my journal right there because of the clarity and new ideas that come to me during class.”
You get what you need from a Bikram yoga class, and Linda is certainly getting the full benefits! She describes her trust in the process this way: “I like that it doesn’t matter if I’m tired or what my condition is, that I can go into a nice warm room & let the teacher just guide me. It’s like an old friend - you can just get into the regime and go. You can trust the process, even if you can’t trust the feeling. You know you’ll feel better when you’re done. It’s so simple; your body just does its job for you.”
Her body has taken her to some new places with her practice – “It seems like Camel has become my new favourite. I just couldn’t seem to get over the dizziness, and now something has opened up, and I love it.” She’s hoping it will take her to her other goals – “For some reason, I just can’t do Toe Stand. So, in the month of May, I’m going to work on Toe Stand.” A regular practice has brought Linda to some surprisingly simple-sounding but profound insights about yoga practice: “Part of our practice really is listening.”
Linda’s primary goal, however, is to “just to keep doing it.” “I don’t think I’m going to stop,” she adds.