Before I starting working at Bikram Southside, Yoga was an unexplored world for me. Having recently graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Philosophy, and feeling a deep curiosity for spirituality and consciousness, I was naturally drawn towards the world of Yoga and meditation. However, I had always felt intimidated by Yoga classes, imagining a room full of beautiful, contortionist gurus who would have me looking like an unenlightened couch potato in comparison.
During my first class, all these preconceived ideas – literally – melted away. The heat and intensity of the class made entering a meditative state not only more accessible, but necessary! Everyone was so beautifully focused on their own practice, and I soon realised that nobody gave a sh**t what I looked like. Suddenly, I found myself welcomed into a wonderful new community, with an incredible focus on healing, transformation and growth (and lots of great banter too!).
The intimidation and insecurities I had associated with Yoga turned out to be nonsense. This taught me an important lesson: that by changing the stories that we tell ourselves about the world, we can transform the world we live in. We make up so many narratives about ourselves, about how others see us, about what will happen in the future. It’s all fantasy, until we can slip into the power of the present, and really embody life.
Yoga has helped me understand this on so many levels and has opened me up to new ways of relating to myself and those around me. During the two years that I have been working at Bikram Southside, I have strengthened both my body and my mind. By physically pushing myself beyond the limits of what I believed I could achieve, I have brought resilience, determination and confidence into all aspects of my life.
The emphasis placed on bringing attention to the breath in Hot Yoga and Pilates has for me opened a kind of portal into the self. Breathing occupies a special place, as it can be both a conscious and unconscious process. By bringing awareness and attention to this process, we can bridge the gap between the conscious and unconscious mind. Working in this way with movement and breath, both in the Hot Room and in my daily life, has allowed me to uncover and reprogram negative thought patterns and beliefs about myself and the world, and has given me the power to reshape my life.
Bringing awareness to the breath can carry peace, calm, focus and energy into each moment of our day, helping us dwell more in the present. Yoga has for me in this way facilitated a kind of re-birth into a new way of being.
Through this journey, I have now become a certified Breathwork Practitioner, with the hope to share the simple, but incredibly powerful practice of Conscious Breathing with others. I feel so much gratitude and joy for being a part of such a beautiful community and for the impact this has had on my life. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes me next!
There are so many amazing benefits to working out in the heat that we needed to write two blog posts! In our previous post we covered muscle strength, endurance, brain development, longevity and improved mood. Here are yet another five awesome reasons to work out in the heat!
Insulin resistance/blood sugar
Insulin is a vital hormone in the body that regulates healthy blood sugar levels. A recent study found that heat acclimation three times a week over 12 weeks created a decrease in blood sugar and insulin levels by 30%, which can have amazing results for those with type 2 diabetes and related conditions.
Balancing your blood sugar is also a great way to reduce those pesky sugar cravings and binge eating habits, which is always a welcomed bonus!
Increasingly doctors and chiropractors are recommending Hot Yoga and Pilates to their patients. High temperatures increase the release of anti-inflammatory hormones and healing white blood cells and are great healers of everything from arthritis to injuries caused by high impact sport’s.
Endorphins (A.K.A ‘happy hormones’) are also produced and act as natural pain-killers – we all <3 those endorphins! 😀
Many people don’t sweat enough, but this is such a powerful way for the body to release and eliminate toxins, chemicals and waste products stored in the skin, and cleanse and purify vital organs in the body.
As you sweat, your pores are opened and cleaned allowing for natural lanolin production, which softens and preserves your skin’s elasticity, giving you that beautiful ‘Bikram Glow’. You’ll leave class looking and feeling like a sparkling unicorn, we promise!
Exercising in the heat is also excellent for shedding a few pounds or toning and shaping your body.
A 90-minute Hot Yoga class is a great workout that can burn up to 1000 calories! Combine this with Heat Shock Protein’s ability to reduce the amount of stored fat by oxidizing fatty acids, regulate blood sugar, and strengthening the metabolism, and you’re going to start seeing great results in no time! Woohoo!
“I’m not interested in getting in better shape” said nobody, ever.
Improves Immune System
Heat Shock Proteins are also great at fighting off diseases and improving the immune system. When the body is exposed to high temperatures, they act by going into a kind of ‘Super Hero Mode’ and quickly target damaged areas. White blood cells and antibodies are created to fight viruses and increase the functioning of the entire body.
All in all, Heat Shock Proteins sound like pretty great guys to have around!
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for reasons NOT to exercise in the heat:
We would NOT recommend Hot Yoga/Pilates for anyone who loves spotty skin, colds, flus, sluggish bodies with pains and aches, and who doesn’t want to feel and look FREAKIN AMAZING!
For everyone else: sign up for our intro offer, £20 for 20 days unlimited access.
A lot of people know how great yoga is for the mind and the body. This is why they try really hard to fit the exercise into their daily routine. If you are someone who’s planning on doing the same thing, it’s important that you know exactly what yoga’s benefits are all about.
Below is a list to give you a clearer idea.
1. It makes you feel better
Like most exercise, yoga has this ability to increase the happy hormones in your body. Also known as serotonin, this happy hormone regulates mood, happiness, and anxiety. Getting low levels of it can predispose you to depression, poor sleep, impaired social behavior, and even memory loss.
So, the next time you’re feeling low and sad, get your mat and start doing your poses. The Camel pose, Head to Knee pose, and the Pigeon pose can make you feel fantastic in just minutes.
2. It teaches you to focus
When you have so many things going on in your life, it’s hard to stay focused. And when you can’t think straight, you’ll find it difficult to come up with the best decisions.
Consistent yoga practice can help you with that. A study found out and suggested that a brief yoga program can do a lot when it comes to enhancing attentive mindfulness and strengthening cognitive functioning.
3. It can help you lose weight
Yoga can help lose weight through a number of ways. For one, it can make you be more mindful of what you eat. It can also make you stronger in resisting cravings for unhealthy foods.
Physically, yoga can help you shed your unwanted fats. The results may not happen that fast but with consistent practice, you’ll see changes in your weight and how your body looks.
4. It helps detoxify your system
Performing poses after poses stimulate the lymphatic vessels which are designed to help get rid of waste, toxins, and other unwanted materials.
Additionally, performing yoga in a hot environment, such as what you do during a hot yoga class can help speed up the detoxification process.
5. It gives you a time to pamper yourself
With so many tasks at work and so many chores to finish at home, getting a “me time” isn’t as easy as it sounds. Doing yoga gives you the opportunity to catch up with your body and give it the time and attention it needs.
6. It teaches acceptance
Yoga encourages you to discover more about yourself and to be fine with what you learn. It teaches you to get to know your flaws and be friends with them.
7. It makes your skin look glowing
When you exercise, you boost your heart rate and blood circulation. With better circulation, more blood cells and oxygen get to your skin which leaves you with a natural glow after. And when you add heat to your routine, you get even more than that.
8. It makes you more flexible
Practicing yoga daily builds muscle memory which increases your flexibility. Now, this doesn’t mean that doing yoga today can make you instantly flexible tomorrow.
The process requires both time and patience. Stick to a routine and you’ll be able to see results soon.
9. It helps make you breathe better
One of the things you’ll learn with yoga is mindful breathing. The more you become comfortable with it, the easier it’ll get for you. And once you’re used to mindful breathing, you’ll be able to relax easily even during stressful times. You’ll be able to connect your mind with your body with ease and to let go of any negativity.
Exercising in a heated environment may seem uncomfortable and, well, a tad on the crazy side… but as it turns out elevated temperatures can work wonders for improving both your exercise performance and your overall health.
When the body is exposed to high temperatures, substances known as ‘Heat Shock’ proteins are formed, and function as a kind of shield to protect the body. New research from Rhonda Patrick, and others (yep her from the Jo Rogan show), has shown these have incredible health benefits. Here are 10 awesome reasons for choosing to exercise in the heat!
Muscle Strength & Repair
Working out in high temperatures both reduces recovery time and boosts muscle development.
Proteins in the body work to safeguard proper muscle functioning by repairing and rebuilding muscles during and after a workout. Heat Shock proteins speed up and enhance this process, so you’ll be a super-human hulk in no time!
An increase blood flow to the muscles brought on by high temperatures reduces the need for the body to rely on glycogen stores as an energy supply. Blood flow to the heart is also increased, so less effort is needed for the heart to pump blood around the body. This in turn leaves the body more energy for your workout and improves endurance.
A recent study on 6 distance runners showed that through regular heat exposure, just twice per week, they were able to increase their running distance by 32%!
Increased Brain Development
Heat acclimatisation can increase Brain-power. WOOHOO!
Studies have shown that regular heat exposure increases chemicals in the brain which repair nerve cell damage and increase the brains capacity for learning, memory and focus. Heat acclimatisation also helps increase in growth of new brain cells and the strengthening of existing ones- neurogenesis.
No wonder Bikram Yogis are so wise…
Heat exposure has been linked to longer lifespan. WOOHOO AGAIN!
Over 2000 men took part in a study where they regularly visited the sauna, and after a 20 year follow up the results showed that for those men who visited the sauna a few times a week, death by cardiovascular disease was 50% less likely, and generally mortality was decreased by 24%! High fives all round
Sauna use and the working out in the heated environment of a Hot Yoga or Pilates class triggers similar processes in the body. So, if you’re aiming to live forever, exercising in the Bikram Southside is place to be!
Heat exposure can improve mood and increase happiness!
More so than exercise alone, working out in the heat creates a flow of endorphins in the brain which can leave you feeling euphoric and even high. This is because the production of endorphins is not only increased by exercise, but also by the amount of fresh blood circulating throughout your body, which is increased by the heat.
You may have heard or experienced ‘Runners high’, well wait until you experience your first ‘Bikram Buzz’! Why not send your spouse next time you forget to do the tidying up.
Just do it
There are so many more benefits, we had to do another blog. Always remember to exercize with caution, as too much yoga has been known to cause really high levels of happiness, and Bikram Southside cannot be held responsible for subsequent behaviour.
Not tried it yet? Sign up for our intro offer, £20 for 20 days unlimited access.
Three grueling two- minute rounds in the ring, with only a gum-guard and gloves for protection, is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. When you catch a hard hit the world shakes and lightning flashes. You feel your feel every ounce of energy draining out of you. The weird thing is that the adrenaline means you don’t actually feel a single shred of pain. As a timid under-confident young woman it was an incredibly empowering experience, and taught me a compelling lesson on positive thinking. Check out the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvQ4V8BKK14&feature=youtu.be
We trained 5-6 days a week. I remember being axe-kicked in the head by a guy over six foot, ALLEGEDLY breaking one of my coach’s ribs and the joys of Sunday morning sessions running up and down stairs in a Maryhill tower block. I had a mean round kick, and could be handy with a spinning back fist. When sparring with other girls it got competitive, and when new blokes joined the club, my coach kindly told them not to go easy on me. The mindset I was in did not allow me to back down, but I remember how much I used to dread paring up with a certain guy with giant shins.
I could never wear skirts, as my legs were constantly back and blue, but I loved my training and was totally hooked. It was the challenge, the skill, the combat and the feeling of strength. I could not believe the amount of physical force I could generate, and sure as hell took out a lot of my emotional baggage onto those pads.
Leading up to my first fight, I was super nervous. I didn’t really think I was good enough to be a fighter. Worse still, I found out the night before that I was fighting Patrina Mitchel. Patrina, who later became British champion, had recently beaten my friend Stacey, who was by far my superior as a fighter. I was sure I didn’t have a chance and walked into the ring with fear. She threw the first punch then boxed me around the ring for the whole first round. I was shell-shocked. In round 2 I found myself staggering, as the world went white. Petrified, I realised I’d be knocked out if I did not do something quick, so I started punching.
Its survival instinct when you’re in the ring. Tiredness is the overwhelming feeling, as you look through a haze of throbbing tunnel vision. Thinking is at a very basic level, it’s more like impact and response. Fight-or-flight mode at its best. I realised that the more I punched, the less I got punched so I punched more. During the last round I held my own.
Needless to say I lost the fight, but what I gained was a realisation that I know will stay with me forever. If I did alright for the last round, I could have done so throughout the fight. Then I wouldn’t have been hit so much, and could have had extra energy to actually win. I guess that the mere fact I had actually survived the fight made me realise that I was stronger than I thought. Most importantly, I realised my fear and self-doubt had weakened me from the start, which was just the advantage my opponent had needed.
Training was different the next time, as I believed I was a fighter. It scary to know that someone is dedicating two months of their life towards training to beat the crap out of you, but you can’t let that fear in. I told myself that every negative thought would weaken my state of mind and make me lose my edge. I know that allowing my-self to visualise losing would contribute towards making it happen, so I pictured myself winning. My mum refused to go to my second fight after being traumatised by seeing the first one. I told to not worry. I was going to win.
Talk about night and day difference. I bounced into the ring knowing I was going to own it and genuinely felt invincible. I won with a unanimous decision, in what was almost an exact reversal of my first fight.
I’d love to say I have never had a negative thought or self-doubt since, then but of course this is not the case. What I do have though, is a striking concrete example the difference a mindset can make. I’m able to watch the videos back and observe how I can sabotage myself or make myself an unstoppable force. More than a decade on, I will never forget how that felt to win that fight. I would like to thank my coach old Mark Hendrie and my old friends at GTBA.