By Byron McCauley
We are the more than 47 percent of Americans born to Baby Boomers. Most of us have been in the work force for more than 20 years, running small businesses and trying to make it in an ever changing world. I would submit that we are among the busiest generation ever. Why? Because we are juggling the aforementioned duties while raising kids and in some way caring for aging loved ones.
This can take its toll on anyone, but when you reach the age where aches and pains become more plentiful, when your brain sometimes defies you, and when your health indices may be getting worse, it becomes more important than ever to take care of your health.
Sixteen months ago, Bikram yoga became that place for me, quite by accident, when a friend asked me to try it out. One hundred and ten degrees for 90 minutes (are you kidding me?). All of us have our stories about how we came here. We were invited, we read about the health benefits. We saw the positive changes in a friend or family member and wanted to drink from that fountain, too.
For years, the treadmill was my friend in the winter, and I would lace up my Asics and hit the streets when it was warm. In Bikram, I found both – a wonderful aerobic workout and a challenging strength-building exercise at the same time.
Juggling the responsibilities of having a sick parent, three children and starting a new business, the 90 minutes I get to spend in the hot room becomes a saving grace, no matter what is going on during a particular day. It truly does change the way you approach everyday life.
I would like to share four reasons why Bikram Yoga makes sense :
1. Pranayama, or deep breathing, can help you feel grounded no matter what is going on. Sometimes when work is really stressful and I feel myself losing my composure, I take a moment to breathe deeply just as we do at the beginning of every class. These cleansing breaths clear my mind and help me better deal with the task at hand.
2. Arthritis, high blood pressure and knee pain be damned. I came into Bikram nursing residual pain from sports injuries and probably the effects of simply growing older. The beauty of Bikram is that the 26 postures work every part of the body. For me, this translated into my knees growing stronger and, eventually, becoming pain free. The same can be said for the chronic pain in my shoulder, which disappeared after four months.
3. Weight loss and body shaping. I have written before that weight loss is not the reason anyone should practice Bikram, but certainly it can be a nice unintended consequence. I coupled the practice with more healthy eating habits and saw strong results.
4. The power of collective suffering, ahem satisfaction. Bikram Choudhury likes to call the hot room the torture chamber, and for good reason. It takes a strong will to fully participate in class and get the maximum benefits from each posture. Some days are more difficult than others – even more than a year into the practice. But every time we end class, the camaraderie we all share for having completed another class is hard to match. And it’s always cool to hear the stories of how my fellow yogis have improved their health with their practice.
To be sure, the sandwich generation has perhaps more to deal with than any before it. But, there is no reason we can’t be the healthiest moving forward.