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Bikram: what's all the fuss about?

My yoga journey started in a place I never thought I would ever visit, let alone live for nearly 5 years. I followed my heart (as it was in love with an incredible man, thankfully now my husband) to Beverly Hills, California. Los Angeles seems to have as many yogis as actors/actress, which is a lot, so I couldn’t help but find myself curios. I always thought yoga was for people with too much time on their hands and was a ‘load of airy fairy’ nonsense! How wrong I was!

Hot 8 Yoga, Beverly Hills is where I took my first step onto my yoga path and have never looked back. At first, I practiced Vinyasa (flow) nearly every day, in a hot room with 30+ other yogis. My amazing teacher, Marlize Joubert guided us through beautiful sequences where we were able to breath, move and find inner calm. Yoga was in my heart and when the opportunity came up to teach, I did it, no questions asked, it was if someone had switched on the light and I could see my path in front of me. I passed, I taught and I embraced the journey.

However, knowing that it’s important to experience different styles of yoga I decided to try the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) practice with a Manchurian lady called Francesca Asumah at Hot 8 Yoga. I met her at reception and, her accent, words and laugh took me back to the UK, back to home. I walked into the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) class, rolled out my mat and led down. I lay on my mat waiting for the class to start, for the music to begin and the lights to be dimmed. The class did start, not in a beautiful dive into svasana, but stood on our feet at the front of our mats looking at ourselves in the mirror. There was no music, the lights weren’t dimmed. This was me on my mat, looking right at myself, with no music to distract me or dimmed lights to hide within. This was different, this was uncomfortable. Francesca guided us through an initial breathing exercise, my body almost felt dizzy with all the fresh oxygenated blood rushing around my body. We were then guided with such energy and understanding through a series of standing postures, completing each twice. Then onto the floor for postures, which Francesca called the ‘real yoga’ and finally surrendering into a deep svasana. Francesca was an incredible teacher, taking the time to know her students individually, offering encouragement just when it was needed and helping us to go deeper into our postures and souls.

The 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) is different to all other yoga styles that I have practiced: Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha, Kundalini and Power/Vinyasa yoga styles. Although all offer healing and the journey to discover self the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) focuses and works on your bone structure and muscles encouraging repair and regain your natural movement. It also focuses on your internal organs, allowing you to release toxins that cause disease and ageing in the body. The toxins being released into the body can make the practice a roller coaster. The sequence may always be the same, but the experience/class is always different. There are days when you come and feel so strong, and others where you cannot even stand up. The courage and strength I realised inside of myself whilst on my mat was incredible. There was nowhere to hide, I just had to keep on getting back up and do the postures. I got to understand my body, I learned to love my body for all its lumps and bumps. I learned to love me, my body and soul.

My life was changed forever. I found my soul, my true self, my divine light. I went to class any day that I could, often 6 times per week. I completed the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) teacher training (taught by Francesca, who was taught by Bikram) in 2015. I was exactly where I was meant to be. I am fortunate to say I was honoured to teach the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) sequence at Hot 8 Yoga in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, and was even honoured with having my own class added to the schedule. I was proud to cover classes that Francesca sadly could not teach to 40+ yogis. We are very good friends and all always will be. If the universe hadn’t brought me back to the UK this year I would be assisting Francesca in her next Teacher Training course at Hot 8 Yoga.

Should you try the 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) class, yes you should! I was meant to write this article, sat in England, reflecting back over the amazing journey that has led me to be teaching at Trybe Penwortham and you were meant to read it.

Come and experience your first 90-minute Hot Yoga (Bikram) class on Friday 6th October at 7.30pm, embrace your journey and remember, bring LOTS of water!

Who knows what you will learn about yourself or how much your body and soul need it, but one thing is for sure, the lights will be up, there will be no music, and I will be there to guide you through this incredible yoga sequence. Love and Light. Donatella xx

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