19 Years A Yogi: First Written Reflection – February 2004

Well…. I think Bikram Yoga is “it”…. I’ve been going on M, W & F since Wednesday 2/6 at 6:30 am. After the 90 minute session, I have such a sense of peace, energy, and well-being…It’s amazing…The sensations rival those of having completed a long-distance run or completing a bodywork session, or…There’s a feeling of completeness and satisfaction.  I thought I was going to the studio on the 6th to accompany Graham, who had some trepidation. Since I had been to the studio before, I told him I would go with him.

After the session, I was hooked. Which is interesting since I had dibbled and dabbled with it before. Like many in the morning yoga classes at the Rock Creek Sports Club, yoga was just not the same after Regina Dawley left in August.


Haven’t seen Graham since the 6th (he travels a lot) and most folks think the whole idea is crazy. There is one person (Nsia Opare — a woman) that I’ve run across who attended the Bikram-led retreat in last fall. Nsia is also a colleague of Linda Lee. Both Nsia and Linda are involved very deeply in African-inspired religious practices.

So, I off into a new experience, pretty much by myself…. It’s hard to kick habits.


Since Wednesday February 6, 2004, I’ve maintained a M-W-F schedule at the Bikram Yoga Studio at Ellicott and Wisconsin Ave, NW.  I went on the 6th to accompany Graham, who had some trepidation about the practice. Graham and I had taken a Bikram-style yoga from one of the yoga teachers at the Rock Creek Sports Club.  She never called it Bikram, since she was only teaching a variation.

There are several things that distinguish BY from other forms of yoga, so much so that Bikram has been very aggressive in suing people who deliver unauthorized versions of his style of yoga.  

There are 26 poses.  One proceeds through each of the poses twice within a 90-minute period. The instructors give scripted instructions.  The goal is that the experience will be same no matter who delivers the instructions. Much like, a McDonald’s hamburger or a cup of Starbucks coffee is the same at any outlet.  

In addition to the same poses, in the same order, according to the same script, the studio is heated to 105 degrees.  One takes class in front of a mirror and keeps his eyes open throughout the class.  Teachers do not stand in front of the class, but move among the practitioners,  drill sergeant-like.

My first introduction to a BY-style yoga was in October 2002 when I attended by first yoga class at the Rock Creek Sports Club.  I had dibbled and dabbled with Anusaura Yoga (AY) in my attempt to keep running.  Also, I had been working with several of the yoga videos from Yoga Journal.  Both AY and the tapes were a slow, flowing type of yoga.  BY was like going to boot camp.  My initial reaction was: “This is not yoga”.  

But it was and is. BY is a form of Hatha Yoga, as is AY.  The reason I choose the Rock Creek Sports Club was because it offered a spinning class (studio cycling), followed by yoga class. I had no idea that I was going to be introduced to BY.  The yoga class was being taught by one of my neighbors and I was always interested in how he taught yoga.

So staring in the Fall 2002, I was introduced to BY.  For many weeks, it was one hour on Tuesday, one hour on Thursday and one and a half hours on Saturday.  

There were several regulars who had been with Regina for a couple of years.  I came to appreciate BY.  It turned out to be very club-friendly.  Since it is a very vigorous, you get the feeling of an aerobic workout.  Also, since it uses traditional yoga poses, you get the feeling of the being stretched out.  In addition, since the poses were same every session, there was an interesting barometer of “progress”.  

“Progress” is one of the paradoxical terms in yoga.  The goal is to do the pose in the proper form, rather than getting deep into the pose. 

Yoga is an interesting practice because it can be approached from many perspectives.  Some approach it as a physical fitness practice; some as a relaxation practice; some as a spiritual practice; some as self-awareness practice – you name it.  Also, there are many, many versions (schools) of yoga.

From what I’ve read, yoga was originally developed in India as a way to condition the body so that people could sit longer in meditation.  Interestingly enough, there is some historical and archeological evidence that it yoga may be out of Africa.  The ancient land of Kemit seems to have developed practices similar to what is now called yoga.  There is a group in India known as the Dravidians who may have been an African people who migrated to that part of the world.

The popular portrayal of yoga is the science that joins mind and body.  In yoga one learns how to control his mind and body.  This contrasts with say Vispassana Meditation where one tries to develop constant awareness of the mind and all sensations.

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