Before I moved to Portland in June 2016, a friend in Albuquerque introduced me to hot yoga. It wasn’t Bikram yoga and I didn’t understand the postures, but I was determined to keep trying. When I got to Portland, I was pleased to find Bikram Yoga St. Johns in my neighborhood and, although I knew nothing about Bikram yoga, I bought a year membership.
I didn’t get my money’s worth that year. I didn’t attend class regularly, rarely drank enough water, and every pose was "awkward pose." Classes were hard because I would lose my balance and even fall sometimes. I would leave bewildered, embarrassed and dehydrated. But something kept me coming back, and I always felt welcomed with open arms no matter how long I had been away.
This New Year's Eve, I came to the studio for a late night yoga class. I rang in the New Year with Kay, Orlo and the rest of the Bikram St. Johns family, under the blacklight with kombucha. I decided to do the 30-day challenge shortly after that. I came up with a yoga schedule that fit around my work schedule, and I set a goal to do 20 classes in 30 days. I loved seeing the stars by my name accumulate.
I did 18 classes in 30 days and I began to see first-hand the benefits of regular Bikram practice: my balance and eye- hand coordination improved, my chronic back pain and stiffness lessened, and my mood improved. I've been practicing about 10-12 times a month ever since.
I am a Registered Nurse and my job is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. I also have scoliosis and a leg length difference. I could barely move my shoulder at one point. With regular practice I can now move my shoulder without pain. I didn’t think that was going to be possible.
I didn’t think a lot of things were possible when first started my Bikram practice. I didn’t think I would ever get into Fixed Firm pose (check out my photo above!) or stand on one leg. Now Fixed Firm pose is a favorite of mine and I’m getting closer to Standing Head to Knee every day. I have conquered many challenges in my life and Bikram yoga is a very worthwhile challenge. And I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.
Fixed Firm pose is the first in our series of kneeling postures. From the beginning you will feel a stretching or extension in your ankles, knees and quadriceps- and as you move deeper into the posture you will also stretch the spleen, lymph glands in your armpits. This posture employs the tourniquet effect right off the bat by compressing the knee joints, and as you move deeper you'll also compress the lower back and adrenal glands.
Physical benefits of Fixed Firm include: improved circulation to kidneys, liver, pancreas and bowels for improved digestion; increased flexibility of knees and ankles; boosted immune system through stimulation of the spleen and lymphatic system; improved adrenal funtion by compression in the lower back, stretching muscles of the thighs, abdomen and pelvis; flushing knees and ankles with fresh high speed blood to loosen scar tissue and relieve arthritic symptoms; improved menstrual symptoms; relief of sciatica, gout and varicose veins.
One major psychological or spiritual benefit of this one (especially when dealing with knee injury or tightness) is... Patience! Keep in mind it could take you weeks, months or even years to even sit your hips down between the heels. Remember that as long as you try the right way one step at a time you are getting 100% of the benefit.
Fixed Firm can be challenging for athletes with tight quads and anyone experiencing knee injuries, chronic tightness or knee pain. The key to success is: take it easy, honey. This is an anatomically correct pose! It helps rebuild a natural range of motion for the knee, which is mainly a hinge joint but also does have a bit of rotation. Only go so far in the posture as you feel discomfort- but never pain- in the knees.
For this one it will help you to always remember one of our favorite Bikram quotes: “Do not mess with the knees. You can mess with the gods, but you cannot mess with the knees.” – Bikram Choudhury
Bikram Yoga St. Johns' studio owner, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.