Of all the styles of yoga one can practice, few are as controversial, or as demanding as Bikram Yoga. Created by Bikram Choudhury on the guidance of his guru, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, Bikram is specifically designed to heal the Western body. In fact, Bikram spent a few years in a Japanese Hospital working with doctors in order to put the series together.
Bikram, a former weight-lifting champion who destroyed his knees, is proof of the power of yoga. At 17, European doctors told him he would never walk again.
Undeterred, Bikram returned to the ashram of his guru and under his instruction practiced yoga. The story goes that only six months later, his knees had fully healed. Bikram teachers (ALL of whom have to have been trained by Bikram himself) usually remind students as they go into fixed firm pose (Supta vajrasana) that it took Bikram himself nine years of practice before he was able to do the posture.
The consistency of Bikram, combined the discomfort of the practice creates extraordinary results. For many students, just staying in the room can be a challenge. It’s physical, it’s intense, and it creates a feeling of euphoria right from the very first class. If you’re an athlete, if you think you’re strong, if you think you can handle anything… get yourself to a Bikram class. It will kick your butt, and leave you wanting more. And if you practice consistently, Bikram Yoga will not only transform your body, but it will also transform your life.
In Wellington, the local Bikram Studio is run by Anika Speedy. She is extraordinarily calm and focused, and leads her Bikram classes with a soft but firm touch.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach Bikram’s beginning yoga class. Bikram is the original ‘hot yoga’. It is a therapeutic series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises designed to systematically move fresh oxygenated blood to 100% of your body, to each organ, fiber, restoring all systems to healthy working order.
The room is heated to 38oC which allows for deeper stretching and promoting detoxification of the skin, blood and muscles.
The class caters to all levels beginners and advanced a like, you simply listen to your body and do the best you can on any given day.
Come with an open mind an empty stomach and enjoy!
2. How did you come to yoga?
I was living in Sydney and working in advertising, it was work hard play hard and I found myself no longer enjoying the lifestyle and wanting to make some changes in my life. I had always been attracted to the idea of yoga but had never found a class or style to I stuck to.
A friend introduced me to Bikram yoga and I knew from my first class that this was what I had been looking for.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
I attended my first Bikram class about 7 years ago and 9 months later I was at the teacher training and a year and a half later I opened the yoga studio here in Wellington.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
It has allowed me to connect back to myself. Yoga can be very confronting facing yourself each day on and off your yoga mat, you learn to know yourself and accept yourself and ultimately not judge yourself or others. We tend to be our own worst critics and place much higher standards on ourselves than we would ever place on others.
I am happier and healthier than I have ever been, I love my lifestyle, teaching and practicing yoga and sharing this amazing gift with others.
5. What is your home practice like?
As I own the studio I practice Bikram with everyone else in the yoga room. My home practice is living yoga in everyday life. Taking the learning from my practice into my life; trying to be more aware of my actions and reactions and their impact on myself and others.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga is a discipline, a way of living a better, healthier and more peaceful life. A life that is in balance, your attitude and outlook improve along with your body and mind.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
To work hard, to be challenged, to sweat, to feel an amazing connection back to themselves and their body.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
The transformation you see in people, from students’ first class they walk out smiling, knowing how good the yoga is for them. You see student’s whole demeanor change, the light back in their eyes, standing taller, stronger. Yoga really can change your life.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
Yoga is not about how flexible you are.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Helping people cope with the stresses of life today. Helping people become stronger and happier in themselves, emotionally and physically. Helping us all lead a more healthy and peaceful life.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
To quote Bikram’s teacher, Bishnu Ghosh;
It’s never too late, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick, to start again from scratch.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
The Bikram Studio is located at the Top of Tory Retail complex, Level 2 133 Tory Street (above Beds R Us), Wellington.