Ever since I could walk, I've loved being active and trying anything athletic or artistic. But despite playing lots of sports, skateboarding, and having a long career in the military, I never gave my overall health the attention it deserved. I can remember being in my twenties and playing three hours of outdoor basketball in the hot LA sun while drinking beers during the timeouts and between games. Or skateboarding all afternoon while smoking without eating anything! Stupid stuff like that.
Eventually these poor health choices catch up to you. Like so many dudes with an athletic background, I started taking hot yoga classes to heal a knee injury. In 2009, I hurt my knee while sparring in martial arts and was worried that I'd never walk with style again. My first teacher told me that if I did 60 classes in 60 days, then I'd have a brand new knee. Well, I didn't have health insurance or a better plan, so I threw myself into the practice and started enjoying the benefits immediately. In addition to having better mental clarity, a deeper appreciation and understanding of breathing, a feeling of detoxification/cleansing, much improved flexibility, and more streamlined body, my knee was as good as new within 5 weeks.
After several years of practice and teaching this Bikram style of hot yoga, I can say that I'm a much happier, kinder, and gentler soul than I was when I was taking my health for granted. Going to yoga feels like a combination of going to meditation class, the gym, and the physical therapist all in one visit. We all get healthier just by TRYING yoga.
The great punk rocker Henry Rollins said that weightlifting always gave him the healthiest perspective on life. People will tell you lots of confusing and often contradictory things, but "200 pounds is always 200 pounds." I can add to that and say that doing these yoga asanas will always serve you a healthy dose of reality. Being in that hot room and working through these challenging postures using conscious breathing has a way of keeping us all more humble and vibrant. Words pale in comparison to the raw experience of overcoming the challenges of fixing our own bodies and minds. It doesn't matter how strong or flexible you are. It just matters that you TRY. And try again. And again... Because nothing conquers failure (and the fear of failure) except an honest try. Whatever you give to your yoga practice, you will receive back - with interest and some added perks.
I hope to see you in yoga class and we will heal ourselves together.Buena suerte amigos!