How Bikram Yoga helped me get through the HSC

We chatted to Sally Bird, a regular at Bikram Brookvale.

When did you start doing Bikram?
It was 8 years ago when I was 17 years old in Byron Bay, Australia.

And why did you first come?
I started practising Bikram yoga during my HSC. I was living out of home, working full time and studying most classes distance education to try to juggle it all. I’m extremely high energy and that turned into extreme anxiety quite easily with all the pressures, dead lines and fears of failure. Regular yoga always frustrated me. It never calmed me down because I was too in my mind and always thinking. Bikram yoga was intense enough that even when I was exhausted to the point where I forgot how hard outside the room was and just concentrated on trying not to die during class. It taught me to survive discomfort and to rest when I wanted to quit. Not leaving the room was a struggle for years but I learnt after time that if I stayed my mind would learn to cope and my body would follow suit. It definitely reduced my anxiety. As I learnt (and continue to learn) that I cannot control the heat but I can control my mind’s reaction to the heat I grow more confident in myself and my abilities, inside and outside of the room.

Do you do other sports/ exercise?
Yes, I run and I also do a little bit of jujitsu and Thai boxing.

Does yoga help with those?
I can confidently say I can land a head kick on a 6ft gentlemen with ease thanks to my flexibility aided by Bikram yoga.

You frequently practice more than once a day. What do you get from that?
I’m results driven and curious really. I just want to see what will happen and if I can do it. I practiced four classes yesterday, morning and afternoon doubles. That was mostly because it was a Monday and every Monday after a big weekend I remember my first ever Bikram yoga teacher, Norma, giving me a hard time in front of the entire class when I was 18 and half drunk from the night before in a 6am saying “for everyone jagger bomb you had last night Sally I want you to practice one extra class this week!” Now I don’t know what you did when you were freshly 18, but I personally used to indulge in a solid 5-10 jagger bombs on a Friday night and dance until the lights came on in the club at 3am. Only once did I made the mistake of going to her 6am class after a night out just because I was still awake and lived around the corner from the studio and thought it would be a fun idea. #facepalm

What do you like about the Brookvale studio?
Oh where to begin. I love the Brookvale studio! I’ve practiced in London, Bali, LA, all over Sydney and in Byron and hands down Brookvale is the stand out. I had heard all about “the mother ship” from other studios and was over the moon when I met Jodie and all the beautiful instructors at this studio. I was thinking just the other day in class this is the one studio where I don’t have a favourite teacher. Normally I kind of end up aiming to attend the classes with teachers whose practice I gravitate towards but every single teacher at this studio offers something slightly different, they all care so much and make every single class worth it.

What changes do you see in yourself when you practice yoga regularly?
I notice I tone up quickly when I’m consistent and my flexibility improves dramatically. The cardio is also super impressive, I notice how much easier my runs become. I work away for at least 6 months of the year though so my practice is a bit of a yo-yo.

Overall, what’s the best thing about Bikram yoga for you?
The way I feel after a class. Getting there is hard some days, when I’m tired or angry, but I always feel sooo much better after a class.


A Chat with with an old friend

Recently our teacher Dave unexpectedly crossed paths with an old surfing mate.  The conversation really stuck with him. He wrote it down and asked that we share it …..

Dave: So how long have we known each other?

Kev:Since we were 15!

Dave: Yes, that’s 37 years.  We surfed, rode skateboards, played footy, chased chicks and did all that fun stuff.

Kev:Good times

Dave: So what happened?

Kev: Well for me, I got married to a pastry chef, got fat, over time I couldn’t do those things that kept me young.

Dave:What do you mean?

Kev: With the weight I slowed down.  I’ve got pills now for high BP.  I can’t sit on a surfboard any more because of my arthritis in my hips.  And would you believe it,  I’ve got the onset of diabetes.

Dave: Geez, you used to be one of the best surfers around.

Kev: How about you, Dave?  What’s happening with you these days?

Dave: Well, I took a turn for the worse a few years ago.  Got a chronic back problem, nearly put me completely out of action. Couldn’t do much at all.

Kev: You seem fine now.  Did you have a back op?

Dave: No, no op. I was really determined not to.  My wife took me to a Bikram hot yoga class. Man, I thought I had a problem with my back. After half an hour I realised I had a problem with everything! Thought I would die in that first class.

Kev: Is that the crazy yoga you told me to try a few years ago?


Kev: I couldn’t do it, it was too hot.  I couldn’t even do half the class.

Dave: Ha ha.  Same. But I went back for another crack. I thought, surely I couldn’t be in that bad shape.  But I was wrong.

Kev: I’d never go back. It’s just too hot.  I can’t do anything.

Dave: But you see, that’s just it.  I stuck it out for a while and slowly improved. Now I’m surfing again, feeling great and have more vitality and bounce than my kids!

Kev: But the heat!!

Dave: Yeh, I know.  It’s hard. But what would you prefer as Bikram would say – “a slow poison death” for the rest of your days or make the effort to get in there and maybe suffer a little bit.  Improve your life, get off the pills and medication. It really works. Hope to see you in the water soon mate, there’s plenty of waves out there. ”

Kev never did try again.  He moved away from the coast, despite the surf being his greatest passion.

So if you’re out there mate, please remember this.

“It’s never too late, it’s never too bad and you’re never too old or too sick to start from scratch once again.”

Note from Ed:  Dave is very understated about his back problem.  Read his bio for the full story on his medical history.