Justin loves all kinds of physical activity or challenge, as well as the outdoors. “I have a lot of energy!” he exclaims, which is obvious from the fact that he recently completed 100 Bikram yoga classes in 110 days.
Even by his early 20s, Justin found that his love of sports - “I used to play some kind of sport every day for hours” – was creating problems in his body. “I developed extremely tight muscles and muscular imbalances.”
“I heard that Bikram yoga could improve flexibility and relieve tension,” he states, but he had a few false starts before truly meeting and embracing the challenges of a yoga practice. “My first class was in 2011,” he recalls, “I honestly had no idea what to expect. Looking back, I had no idea what I was doing in that room, and what I was trying to achieve. I pushed myself really hard and ended up over-stretching, because I was essentially trying to show off.” You can almost see Justin shaking his head as he recounts his next experience with Bikram yoga: “I never went again until last year around November – I bought a 10 class card at Bikram Yoga Burnaby, went once, and, then, never again.”
Something changed for Justin this year, when he signed up for a one-month introductory package at Yoga 360 Surrey. It wasn’t just his dedication to yoga that changed, but his whole mind-set: “Growing up, I was always super-extroverted; I seem to get along with people quite easily. Bikram yoga has taught me to really focus and give time to myself, filter out the distractions and just observe.” Focusing on himself and not everyone around him is one way that Justin has found to make time for himself. Making himself and his health a priority helps him make time for his yoga practice: “I just look at the yoga schedule a day or two in advance and decide which one I can make.” By mentally preparing to come to class, Justin can more easily face the long days and commutes: “I work in downtown Vancouver and commute by transit. Realistically, I’m looking at 10 to 11 hour days.”
If you’ve seen Justin around the studio, you’ll know that he’s a fit, young man, so it may be surprising to learn that going slow and setting small goals is how he measures his progress. “All the built-up tension from years of sports without stretching has led to some pretty severe posture alignment issues,” he explains. “At this point, I am unable to sit cross-legged on the floor due to extremely tight hips and lower back, so, for now, my goal is to be able to sit cross-legged.”
Over almost 100 days straight of yoga, Justin has noticed small improvements, and this is what keeps him going. “I love seeing all the little changes and increased depth and understanding of the postures that comes with consistent practice. I’m really looking forward to being able to do all the postures in proper alignment, as they were designed to be done.”
“Although I’m nowhere near my goals, I’ve got a pretty good start,” Justin says modestly. “Yoga has helped me learn to use more parts of my body and to listen to my body. It has also helped me heal and strengthen my lower back.” Indeed, some of the discoveries that Justin has made about his body and how to use is are simple yet profound: “Yoga has also taught me to breathe deeply and always fill up my lungs as much as possible.”
Although Justin refers to the years he spent playing sports of all kinds as “extreme abuse”, he still loves the outdoors, hiking, running and other sports, and has seen an improvement in his performance thanks to Bikram yoga: “I find that my stamina while playing other sports has increased dramatically. Being able to breathe deep, especially when the air is substantially colder, helps you recover a lot faster.”