In a quest to better understand the benefits – or hindrances – included with mixing up yoga styles, I’ve talked to several yoga practitioners and teachers about their opinions. This piece was written by fellow Bikram lover Stacey Lawrence, whom you can tweet at @Bendybods.
My name is Stacey and I’m a Bikramoholic. I have been clean for nearly a month now but I have to say, I very much crave the Torture Chamber.
The main reason for my month-long hiatus is the up and coming Yoga Teacher Training I am embarking on throughout May with Doug Swenson, Sadhana Yoga Chi, which will focus on other styles of yoga that I’m less familiar with, mainly due to my long-term love affair with Bikram.
I was recommended this training from a highly respected Bikram Yoga Teacher, and was interested to know that her training preceded Bikram.
I knew that I had to branch out in order to prepare effectively for the teacher training, but how could I? I’m comfortable with Bikram, and so that was my first reason.
I know, I know, every Bikram class is different, you go in feeling great and come out feeling depleted, you go in feeling lethargic and come out wanting to run a marathon, the only certainty with Bikram is it will constantly surprise you, probably one of the reasons it is so hard to kick the habit.
So my first challenge was to, gulp, find a new studio. I am a fiercely loyal person so this was hard, my selection criteria included a varied timetable, with hard and soft yoga styles, suitable class times that fit in with hectic city life, and great teachers. I would also like the luxury of being able to get changed without having to contort myself into various positions whilst doing one’s best to keep ‘ ones face out of fellow yogini’s arm pits (and other body parts no less)… oh, and none of that yoga snobbery which has unfortunately hit some studios. We Yogis are supposed to be open and friendly after all.
Then it found me: Indaba Yoga, Marylebone.
It fit the criteria perfectly and I haven’t looked back, no offense Bikram. I started with a class called Space n Flow which took place in my old friend, the heated room. And as the name suggested, there was indeed a lot of space, much more than I’m used to with the usual mat to mat set up. We flowed, very gently to warm up in what I would personally describe as a lovely Vinyasa style that felt like dance, and the class continued to flow on and focus on inner and outer strength with some serious hip openers… And all of a sudden I felt like I was new at yoga. Tight, tight hips…
“But my standing bow is beautiful,” I kept assuring myself. “No wait, put the competitiveness back in the box.” I certainly felt the benefits the following day, more benefits than I had felt in ages. I felt taller and more open due to the personal corrections the teacher had talked me through and muscles I had forgotten existed were talking to me. I went on to take Astanga, Iyengar, Yin, Yogasana, Hot Power Hour and some workshops of which there are many. Each class I am learning something new that is relevant to my yoga, being given personal corrections throughout each class, feeling excited, invigorated and highly motivated.
Let’s face it, as much as us Bikramoholics are addicts, sometimes the thought of that same 90 minutes is just too monotonous, and then there’s the doubles! 3 hours of the same 26 postures 2 times over? Well, I can now enjoy a 90 minute invigorating Iyengar class which often makes use of those fun ropes that hang from the wall, followed by a 90 minute Yin class, followed by the luxury of personal space when getting changed, which all send me floating home on a cotton wool cloud.
I have to say, the benefits of ‘mixing it up’ are aiding my recovery. New learning, honouring the roots of Yoga, practicing more than 26 asanas, less monotony, practicing handstands and feeling like I’m in the playground again, getting continuous personal adjustments due to much smaller class sizes and practitioner/teacher ratios, my alignment has never felt better and I never have the same class. It’s fun.
So whilst the 26 postures, 38 degree heat and 40% humidity over an hour and a half will always hold a special place, my body and mind are feeling more connected and refreshed through mixing up the styles and just playing a little bit.