Something Sappy This Way Comes

WARNING: Bikram Yoga post. Just sigh audibly and skip down to the food pics below if it's going to annoy you. I'm 99% sure that I would be annoyed, so as a peace gesture I'll tell you that the recipe in my next post has approx. 1,700 calories in it.

For the rest of you (hello!) I wanted to post a story that I found on another blog. Before you can become an instructor for Bikram yoga, you have to attend a 9 week teacher-training program. In addition to other workshops and lectures, trainees attend two Bikram yoga classes a day...that's 3 hours a day doing high cardio yoga in 110 degree heat. People throw up alot, make lasting friendships, and some even do battle with their worst demons at teacher training. This is a blogging perfect storm.

Reading the blogs, I'm reminded of how I felt when I moved back to New Orleans right after Katrina (intense gratitude for the people who picked me back up when I couldn't do it myself, and the understanding that things would get better but I would suffer a great deal until they did). Maybe it seems trite to compare the two, but people learn the extent of their own determination, drive, and strength, both emotionally and physically, at teacher training. I know that my own emotional strength has been tested (though it didn't fare very well for awhile there), but I want to challenge myself physically and I'm beginning to think that teacher training may be in my distant future.

But back to the point of this post. I think that Bikram yoga has the capacity to heal alot of things in alot of people...maybe it's a combination of the determination and trust in yourself that it takes just to complete a class, the physical aspects of the practice, and/or the simple act of doing something for yourself for 90 minutes every day. After I've been doing this awhile longer, I'll probably tell you how it's changed me. But for now, you'll just have to hear from Luke (told as Luke taught a Bikram class at blogger Tom's bikram training):

"So something none of you know about me is that I used to be a terrible drug addict. I was addicted to everything: heroin, cocaine, all kinds of pills, methadone, you name it. I was living on the street in Houston 6 years ago, homeless, jobless, completely broke and completely addicted to drugs. A friend somehow got me to Bikram. It was at one of the studios owned by Mike and Joni. I took the class and the first day it literally killed me. But for some reason I went back. The second day killed me. As did the third. But I kept going back. And Mike and Joni were very encouraging. They never asked anything about my life and what was going on, and it must have been clear just how messed up I was. Let me tell you, I looked scary. . . But they worked out a deal with me: if I would stay after my class and clean the mirrors of the studio, I could take the classes for free. I just had to come every day. So I accepted.

Mike and Joni never asked me anything or pressed me, as scary and out of control as I must have appeared. I went every day and every day it absolutely killed me. But things started to change. Over the next six months, through going to Bikram, I slowly and painfully slid out of the addictions: to heroin, to cocaine, to the pills. My last addiction was to methadone. I was doing 70 mg a day, which for those of you who don’t know is a lot. And methadone is the worst withdrawal of all. Take the sickest you have ever been, the worst flu, whatever, and multiply it by 1000, and that's how methadone withdrawal feels.

The first day I went without any methadone, I went to the class and after the initial breathing exercise, I collapsed on my mat and just lay there for the rest of the 90 minute class. I couldn’t move. When it was over, I was lying in a puddle of my own sweat on my towel and I still couldn’t move. Everyone in the class slowly left and I lay there for an hour, hurting. Eventually, I heard Mike come from the front desk into the studio. I knew I was going to get into trouble for not doing my part of the deal but I still couldn’t get up. I heard him moving around; after a while I was able to raise my head and when I looked up, I saw him cleaning the last mirror, he’d cleaned them all. When he finished, he walked to the door and as he left, he turned and said, ‘See you tomorrow, Son.’ And I knew I was home.”


  1. I love this inspirational story. It's touching, and demonstrates that there really are some kind, compassionate people out there.

  2. The funny thing to me is that, despite the stories all over the place about Bikram being the "anti-yoga," it's this type of story that I hear most when taken from someone's personal experience.