“I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga since October 2007 and I am so very grateful to have the opportunity. Without much knowledge of this type of yoga, I walked into the studio with an open mind and discovered that it is not only one of the most difficult physical activities I’ve ever done but also one of the most spiritually and psychologically challenging. Through regular practice, I realized that one should be thankful for one’s talents and accept the shortcomings; one day, there will be a surprising and unexpected improvement. I’ve learned to let go of my judgments, be aware of my breath, my body, be present and to embrace the fact that there are things in life that can be changed and there are those we just need to leave as they are. Nowadays, I can emphatically say “smile, breathe and be happy.”
“Thank you Bikram Yoga Montclair for you guidance and teaching of this wonderful practice. It has truly transformed and changed my life. When I first started my practice I had various health issues: calcium deposit on the top of my left arm, preventing full range of motion; lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue; and finally female reproductive system issues including irregular bleeding (likely pre-menopause).
After only 3 months of practice the lactic acid buildup was completely gone. I found out through a massage therapist who told me to “keep doing what I was doing” related to yoga practice. My menstrual cycle became regular and remains that way after over a year of practice. Also, the calcium deposit is gone and I’ve gained full range of motion of my arm.
I truly believe this yoga practice saved my life. There is a peace within me now that I’ve never known and it’s amazing. This practice continues to prepare me for my now healthy 50’s and future 60’s and beyond.
Thank you Jagadisha, Sandra, Katie, Aimee, and Amy for your superb instruction and words of encouragement and strength throughout this yoga journey.”
“I never believe testimonials so I absolutely cannot believe I am writing one that I can tell you, if I were reading it, would think it was written with some ulterior motive. But every word is true… So here goes. I began Bikram yoga almost three years ago when a physical therapist told me after months of treatment that he could do no more to help me regain full mobility in my shoulder which had been frozen for at least two years prior. I could not raise my arm over my head nor could I touch my toes. I was 15 pounds overweight and miserable. I had multiple episodes of herniated discs in my back and aching knees from 20+ years of pounding the pavement in medical sales. Little by little, I began to see improvement and the more improvement I saw the more I wanted to come to class– almost addicting. What is so incredible and something I still haven’t come to completely understand is how my life overall (other than the physical) has improved. By learning to ignore the sweat I learned to ignore other things in my life that bothered me and take more control of how I react to situations. I had become claustrophobic as I got older and after about 5 months one day I realized I was standing in the back of a crowded elevator and I was fine – not a thought about being uncomfortable or panic. People, places, and situations I became more tolerant of. Jagadisha says “what you resist persists” and I stopped resisting and my life was changing. I don’t know why completely and I have so much more to learn but life is different and so much better. I lost the 15 pounds in 3 months without changing anything else. Lastly and most incredibly something I really never expected happened which is still puzzlement but I had a high white blood cell count due to a form of indolent chronic lymphocytic leukemia Today there is no trace of the leukemic cells in my blood and my white blood cell count is normal. I guess I have sweated it all out!! (jk) Who knows why exactly but it is a benefit I still cannot believe nor can my doctors but I’m not questioning it just enjoying each and every day. So today I can touch my toes, almost touch my head to the mat, stretch both arms over my head straight and stand on one leg with the other straight out and my forehead to my knee. Never thought I would accomplish this at almost 52 years of age and more important than that I think I am a more patient and understanding individual who just wants to give back for all that I have learned and continue to learn. Thank you to my first teacher Jagadisha at Bikram Montclair who owns a special place in my heart and to all my other teachers especially Caryn, Natalie, Amy, Jackie, Sondra, Tina, Susan, Jessica and many others who have cared for me and helped me along the way. I am most appreciative and love you all. ”
“Bikram Yoga is an essential part of my life. 21 years ago, when I was 24, I had a goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland). Tests indicated that I had a chronic auto-immune disease called Grave’s Disease. The only options offered by conventional western medicine were surgery and radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid. This did not seem sensible because removing an essential organ and radiation cause further complications which weakens the basic constitution. I began my journey in search of a health care regimen to strengthen my constitution and prevent degeneration caused by this chronic disease.
After years of trying various alternative approaches to good health, I developed a lifestyle that incurs good health without the use of chemical synthesized medicines, without surgery, and without radiation. In fact, all my tests are not only normal, but excellent. I recently did a test to measure anti-oxidant levels in my system. The range of the chart was 0-50,000. My level was 66,000. The people in the office said they had never seen such a high level. In a recent Digital infrared Thermographic Imaging Breast Scan, I had perfect results. My blood test, including thyroid function, are all excellent.
I aim to go to Bikram Yoga 5 or 6 times a week. The sweating process is essential to good health for many reasons. When we sweat, we expel toxins so our system is cleaner and there is less damage to our body tissues. When a system is not blocked by toxic residuals, the liver and kidneys have less to filter out so they, and all other organs, function better. The heat allows the connective tissue to become more fluid, thereby releasing tension stored deep in our muscles, joints, and organs. Our bodies become more aligned and age-old injuries and illnesses can be corrected.
This particular sequence of exercises in a heated environment supports the correct alignment of the physical structure. We become more flexible, breathe more deeply, move more quickly, digest more efficiently and rejuvenate more effectively. In every way, Bikram Yoga supports the correct functioning of the physical body and is an essential part of my health care regimen.”
“Two years ago, if someone had told me that there was a fountain of youth that could reverse the aging process and heal any ailment, I would have humored that person and walked away quietly, wondering when the authorities were going to come and take him away.
A year ago, on November 7th—the very day after my birthday—I had a serious heart attack. I was taken to Roosevelt Hospital on 58th Street in Manhattan after being found unconscious by a very dear friend who, by coincidence, was coming to pay me a visit.
The doctors told her that I was in very bad shape and that there was a good chance I wouldn’t survive. They said to be prepared for the worst.
OK, I admit I was smoking two and a half packs a day at the time, as I’d been doing for 20 years or so. I was eating (or rather stuffing down) as much red meat as I could handle and never ever for a moment thought of eating any greens. As I put it sarcastically to a friend: “I’m not a rabbit.”
To compound the situation further, I’m in one of the most stressful fields in music: I’m a composer. A few years ago a study found that, yes, composers—compared to the rest of the musical community—die the earliest. Haahaahaaa.
Gee, I guess it sounds like I was setting myself up. Maybe subconsciously I was . . . .
After spending a torturous night at Roosevelt, the doctors decided that St. Luke’s had better facilities to deal with heart attack patients. They whisked me off, and within a few hours I found myself on the operating table.
The surgeon told me that they were planning to perform open-heart surgery, which I vehemently opposed.
“You’ll open me up over my dead body!” I told them.
The surgeon reluctantly agreed, but warned that if I needed more than three stents, they would have to do the more radical procedure.
I agreed, with trepidation.
I later woke up in the recovery room a bit more bionic than I had previously been. They’d placed three new stents and a fourth to replace an old existing one.
Aaah . . . Did I conveniently forget to tell you about my first episode? Let’s save that for another time.
Some miraculous occurrences took place after I came home from the hospital. One was that, for some strange reason, I no longer craved cigarettes. Neither I nor anyone else can explain this. Before, I’d been so addicted to smoking that many of my friends wouldn’t even visit my apartment. They couldn’t handle being in such a smoke-filled room. They also said that dinner with me was mostly watching me through the restaurant window as I puffed away on my Kools.
Another peculiar development was that I started to crave raw green vegetables and water. I was getting obsessed with avocado salads with baby spinach. I also decided on the advice of a friend to cease eating white flour and all wheat products. For carbs I was eating quinoa and buckwheat groats: I began a gluten-free diet.
Remember, I was formerly a carnivore and junk food junkie. I lived for tripe, chicken feet, and all the fatty meats I could sink my teeth into. And all that crusty bread to sop up those juices! Go figure. . . .
About a month later, a friend told me that if I really wanted to feel better I should get into a cardio-rehab program at Columbia Presbyterian. It was not an easy program to get into, but after a month of my begging and pleading they finally gave up and accepted me.
This amazing physical therapist, John, taught me how to lift weights and use the StairMaster and treadmill. I had never gone to a gym before, ever! In high school the coach was always threatening to fail me, but even he eventually just gave up.
So all this exercising was new and exciting to me. I liked it. In time, I joined a gym and continued the routines I’d learned from John, hoping to take things even further. After all, I was starting to like the way I looked: I was losing weight and beginning to tone up. Vanity, that great initiator!
I was still on heavy medication, though. The Lipitor and Plavix were making me tired and bruised. Although I was supplementing them with CoQ10 the side effects remained.
So as time went on I needed to find something more. The gym just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to start integrating my physical development with some spiritual awareness as well. A friend suggested that I try Bikram Yoga.
At that time I was living on 79th Street on the Upper West Side. I walked down to 72nd, enrolled in a class, and bought all the accoutrements—the yoga mat, the shorts, and the cool yoga bag that every yoga student in town seems to carry on their shoulder. I actually made the commitment without even taking my first class!
The first class was difficult. The heat, the demanding and painful postures . . . Afterward, I spoke to some of the students, and they all expressed how Bikram had improved their lives, not only in terms of their physical strength and posture, but also in their ability to conduct their lives in a more efficient and calm manner.
OK, my decision was made to continue on this course and see where it would eventually take me. And besides, I’d spent all that money on the mat, the bag, and the shorts! I couldn’t let all that go to waste.
Well, it’s been about six months now since I took my first class, and in the interim I moved here to Montclair. Last month I went to my doctor for a checkup. As usual he asked me to disrobe and lie on the table to wait for him. When he walked in and looked down at me his jaw hit the floor.
“My God, what have you been doing?!” he cried. “Your body looks like that of a 19-year-old!”
I looked up and calmly said, “Bikram Yoga.”
“The hot one?” he asked.
“Yup!” I said.
He took the usual EKG, and as the results were coming through, he gaped again. He ran out of the room and returned with two other doctors.
“We don’t understand this, Joel,” they said. “Not only does this test show no heart damage, it seems to show that there was never any damage to begin with. We’re dumbfounded.”
Then my doctor asked, “May I also take some blood from you?”
“Go ahead!” I answered.
The next day I got a voicemail: “Joel, your blood tests came back, and we’ve never seen anything like this before, either. Your HDL (good cholesterol) level exceeds the norm by 100%. It’s literally off the chart.” He continued, “We’re calling you Benjamin Button from now on. And by the way, no need to take those meds anymore.”
YAYYYYYYYY! I was free! Free!
OK, I may not be able to stop the aging process, but I do know that Bikram Yoga is helping me at least to slow the pace of it and age gracefully, staying vital and productive.
Also, since I’ve been doing Bikram I almost never get colds or other illnesses. When I do, it doesn’t last for long.
I was born prematurely, and all my life I’ve been accustomed to getting sick with something. And all those cigarettes probably didn’t help. But now, to quote Edgar Allan Poe’s raven, ” . . . nevermore!”
P.S. And I really do look cool carrying my yoga mat.”