In the 6 years that I’ve been a member at Bikram Yoga Nairobi, I’d never done a challenge. In August 2018, I decided to challenge myself to a 30 day challenge, to support teacher Beatrice who was embarking on a personal 30 day challenge. 30 days turned to 60 days… then to 90, then to 100 and somewhere along the path, I decided to make this a 365 days challenge.
My days were focused on yoga; scheduling and rescheduling work to make it to yoga; arranging meetings around yoga; eating early enough to make it to yoga; choosing what to eat so not to throw up in yoga… EVERYTHING revolved around yoga.
There were days when I couldn’t understand why I tortured myself to go for yoga, going to the extent of blaming yoga for me not having “a life”. I complained and I whined often.
But then I came to realise that yoga had become an important part of my daily life, something that you do without much thought because it’s a routine… like having breakfast or going to work and, apart from feeling guilty when I couldn’t make it for class, something definitely didn’t feel “right” when I didn’t do yoga.
At one point during the challenge (around day 95 to be precise), I started to notice mental clarity.
First of all, it’s amazing what you can achieve physically by focusing your mind.
Secondly, that physical “pain” or struggle that you endure during class miraculously disappears the moment you step out of the hot room after class… that pain and struggle is as much mental as it is physical.
Then I realized that yoga doesn’t allow you to stay in your comfort zone. Much as you wish to stay where you are, hiding behind negativity or fear or anger, it propels you in the direction that you’ve been avoiding and pushes you forward.
There’s that small voice inside you that spurs you forward when you want to give up; but then you notice that there is that strength in you, strength that you never knew you had, that you are resolute and you can persevere… then you realise that you’ve pulled through because YOU made the choice to be strong.
Then one day during savasana, you suddenly become aware that you’re a different person. Things that used to hurt you, annoy you, the fear, the anger are no longer significant. You inspect yourself inside and realize that you’ve learnt to let go…. all through yoga.
Thank you to all my friends at the studio. We met at the studio, became friends at the studio and now you are an important part of my life.. it’s thanks to you and your support, that I accomplished this challenge.
Thank you to that very special person who understands how important yoga is for me, and always allows me to prioritise my yoga. I will always be very grateful to you.
This years’ long experience cannot end without saying a big thank you to the teachers and studio owner and studio staff.
Although my challenge is over, you will still see me coming every day… well, almost !!!
- Yoko Seki
Yoga. 3 days strong. And am gonna stay on!
It was my objective this year to take on Yoga as part of the very tail end of muscle healing after physiotherapy. The narrative on web and from meeting with the Yogi's in charge was to give it 3 continuous days to begin feeling its impact. Allow me to share with you my three day Journey:
Day 1: I am all green about the routine. I try out the 5pm class and arrive at 5.10pm. Locked out! Tough lesson learnt. Strictly keep time. I wait on for the 7pm class (of course am super on time). The heat in the room can be much to take in so yogi grace was kind to give me the orientation. With her advise I walk into the room 10 minutes early to acclimatise and pick a strategic spot as far away from the door to lower my desire to run out :). 10 minutes into the class however I was keeping at pace with kind complements and gentle nudging from Dionne, the instructor for the day. I look around. There were old and young, male and female, big and small, black and white, experienced and newbies. There was no need to run away. I blended in. After 90 minutes a kind applause from the class for surviving my fast day put a happy dance in my mind.
Day 2: Ok. Am tuned in on time. Traffic or not. Get there by 6.50pm. I dash out of the house in good time and notice I have forgotten my phone and wallet - I am not quite attached to any of that (besides you do not use the phone anyway in the class) and I drive on. I ticket into Lavington mall and bam! It hits me - I need cash or M-Pesa to pay for parking. To be honest with all the unpredictable traffic, a car can be a liability to time keeping. Am getting accustomed to the etiquette too. I was not quite sure how the shower (its nice and warm by the way) would work after class but Yogi's are requested to take just 3 minutes when others are waiting and that made the after class feel much better. Did I mention the great juices.Wow! You watch as it gets freshly blended and the recipes are to die for. I could not help but draw my eye at the crunchy fresh spinach, perfectly orange carrots and oranges and fully matured ginger. It is really a value to take on!
Day 3: I survive the traffic (40 minutes for a predicted 15 minutes. I need to dump the car for this relationship to work better). A bit anxious to see if the magic 3 will work on me. But with time lost am dashing into class. This time though I have my Yogi stuff in check including a small padlock to keep my items locked away (I congratulate me for progress). I am finally understanding some of the vocabulary - Shavasana (relaxation posture) and Namaste (a respectful salutation which each instructor so far has given at the end of the class for which I should respond - Namaste).
I find my mind getting to a plain space. I am infused in class - still a long way to get the postures tight but the rhythm for the 26 postures is setting in. I am still getting exhausted along the way but I can breath with my nose normal breaths for the entire 90 minute session.
At the end of day 3 I lie down facing the ceiling. Lost in blankness. I feel calm at peace, the exhausted body detached from a peaceful mind. That. For me, priceless!
Thank you all!
Alas I have found me a healthy activity that I can appreciate! I started Bikram Yoga in December last year with the introductory classes and it made me take up a monthly membership. Although I live far, in Ongata-Rongai, I’m always excited to beat the well known Rongai traffic jam just so that I can be in one of the afternoon classes. This practice has given me my daily life purpose after years of trying to find me a suitable mode of exercise. I am gutted that I missed out on the 30 day challenge as I was in Indonesia for health purposes but am determined to make it to class everyday cos that’s what having a (daily) life purpose is all about; showing up. Also, I like how my body is changing right before my eyes; from couch potato-like into Shakira-like. Okay, maybe not there yet but Bikram Yoga might be able to help :)
I've been practicing Bikram Yoga (on an off coz of work) since 2010 and I had never had the courage to take part in a challenge. So when I hear of the 5 by 4 challenge, I pushed myself to do it. My new born was 2 months old and I was struggling to shed the baby weight (some say I'm too tough on myself) even though I'd returned to practice when my baby was 2 weeks old. I needed the challenge to get me on a clean eating path and also help me tone up my very loose postpartum body (joints included). I was not easy leaving my baby every day but eventually, we both got into the routine of things.
The challenge was not easy! Day 9 was one of my toughest days, I felt like I was practicing under water and I was drowning. My body ached all over and I was fighting with all the voices in my head telling me to run out of class; but I made it to the end. From that day for about a week and a half, all my old injuries resurfaced. My knees hurt, my hips hurt, my plantar fascia flared up and my hamstrings were as tight as guitar strings! Teacher Lilly & Jordana helped me understand that my body was shifting and I needed to take it easy in class which I did, however I still felt like the pain would never end.
Finally in the last 3 days of the challenge I has a breakthrough, I could get into Standing Separate Leg stretching pose! My plantar fascia was bearable and my knees and hips didn't hurt! I also had a weight loss breakthrough and lost 2Kg in the last week. (Clean eating is no joke, it works)
My final loss stats were as below.
Waist - 5.5cm/ Thighs- 4cm/ Arms - 2cm/ Hips - 8cm
Total weight loss - 2.1Kgs
Even though I didn't loose the crazy 15kgs I wanted to going into the challenge, I was happy with what I learnt about my body and weight-loss.
1. Water weight is real
2. You gain muscle in yoga which makes you heavier
3. Loosing cm is way easier and motivating then loosing KGs
4. Joints take time to heal and also act up ever so often.
I'm still on my clean eating journey and trying to keep a regular 4 day a week practice even though I am back to work now. The challenge also inspired a new haircut (all the showers were not fun) .To anyone thinking about taking up a challenge, I highly recommend it.
- Maryanne Waheto
I happily completed the 5 x 4 challenge yesterday. This has been a huge achievement for me - I have been struggling with starting to exercise since I had a baby, more than 7 years ago.
I’m so thankful for the challenge - without it, I would never have gotten over that initial hump around the first week that normally beats me when I try to get into a fitness program. Because of the challenge I somehow got out of bed despite the voice telling me how so very tired I was after 3 straight days of yoga. It was so difficult that first week but I got through it.
The challenge has also shown me, more than anything else, that I can do what I put my mind to. The getting out of bed no matter what the voice said about tiredness, finding ways and making arrangements to ensure I made it to class no matter what meetings were scheduled or what things popped up, and making up for missed classes. I became a focused, fulfilment machine. This has given me a new view of myself and my abilities, mostly mental but also physical. I’m in awe and very proud. And oh, I feel amazing - strong and energetic, and moving effortlessly.
I joined Bikram yoga in 2016 after undergoing an invasive eye surgery. I did my research and realised yoga was ok, immediately signing up for the remainder of the year. I enjoyed the classes but would get very exhausted after the class, perhaps I did this against doctors’ orders. I persisted but had to take a break before the year was over.
Come 2019, I am turning 50 years right after the challenge. I thought to myself this is it! This is what I will have to do as I usher in my 50th birthday.
I signed up with great zeal and psych opting for the 5X4 challenge. This time my body was receptive. To be honest I simply got on with it and was not going to entertain any excuse not to pull through even with the nagging back and knee pains.
As I turn fifty, I am more positive than ever, in good shape mentally and physically. I am also very grateful sharing this great experience with the rest of the yogis. The great energy and positivity was completely overwhelming. I definitely would love to make this yoga practice part of my life and maybe one day I will manage to put my head on my knee before my next Birthday. Mind over matter right?
- Phyllis Macharia