In June, I completed my first official Crash Test – a Thirty Day Challenge at my Bikram yoga studio. Thirty classes of Bikram yoga in thirty days – a terrifying and exhilarating thought. I like yoga, a lot, but thirty consecutive classes is a lot of bending and sweating without a break when the most you’ve previously managed was five in a row, and even that was only because you forgot to take a day off one week…
The Thirty Day Challenge (or Sixty Days, if you’re feeling like a real challenge!) isn’t a concept I made up. Bikram Choudhury, the man who started it all for Bikram yoga, suggests that everyone starting their yoga practice should begin with sixty days of consecutive classes to really introduce their body to the new form of exercise and all the benefits that come along with it. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though, and I personally admire all beginners who turn up for a second class after their first one, let alone fifty-nine more!
“Give me 30 days, I’ll change your body. Give me 60 days, I’ll change your life.” Bikram Choudhury
I’d been practicing regularly for eighteen months when my studio announced they were having their first studio wide Thirty Day Challenge and I was ready to try something new with my practice. I was going to class every four or five days and thinking about entering in the Regional Championships in October (wait to hear more about this very soon!) and I was excited about what I might achieve by attending every day for the month. I knew that some things were going to have to change; 6am classes were going to have to become part of my routine so I didn’t lose any work time, I would have to amp up my hydration techniques and I was going to have to have a pretty clean month – no night out is worth a hungover Bikram class! – but I was hoping that the challenge would be something I could ease into and maybe even enjoy, a pleasant achievement rather than a hard, month-long, sweaty slog.
Well, the challenges were many and the results were interesting and varied. Without any further ado, I give you the
Thirty Day Challenge Bikram Yoga Crash Test
(due to the sheer amount of stuff that happened during the month, this Crash Test will be presented over the following week, so keep checking back for more updates and results! Don’t know what Bikram yoga is? You’re in for a treat! Read up on it here, have a look at the studio where I practise here, find one near you and have a go!)
To complete thirty classes of Bikram yoga in thirty days. Doubles can be done (two classes, one day) if a day needs to be missed or made up.
At the start of the challenge, I was hoping I could work a bit deeper into my flexibility during the month. My hips and knees are a particular sticking point for my body after twelve years of gymnastics and always feel better after a good stretch. I’d had a big start to the year after writing and directing a play and starting some new freelance writing gigs, so I was also hoping to detox some of the bad stuff I’d eaten and drunk over the past few months.
As my teachers always say, the best and only thing you need to do for yoga is turn up. Come to class, stay in the room, and the rest will take care of itself. And that makes the method of this Crash Test very simple indeed – all that’s needed to do is show up every day, day after day, do class and go home.
“Follow my words, keep your eyes open, keep concentration in your body—and you will come naturally to peace in your mind.” Bikram Choudhury
Oh, and wash. Wash and wash and wash. This challenge involved a phenomenal and unexpected amount of washing.
Stay tuned tomorrow for observations and results!