Nem often comes into the studio not once but twice – and sometimes even three times – a day! Read on for his top tips on how to conquer the Bikram Yoga daily double!

When and why did you first start practicing Bikram Yoga?

Although I tried a couple classes four or five years ago, I tore my LCL in my left knee while training jiu-jitsu and forgot about yoga. In 2013 I suffered another training injury: I broke my left leg and ankle quite badly, which put me on the sidelines for a while. I made it my mission to come back but never regained full confidence in the ankle with a screw. Six months ago I came back looking to try yoga again in a bid to avoid more injuries and do some meditation to calm my body and mind. What I found is an amazing workout that, in an incredibly short amount of time, has repaired a lot of the damage done and pushed me to places I didn’t think possible.

What was your very first Bikram Yoga class like?

Quite overwhelming! I had to sit down quite a few times and may have even stepped out of the room – it was all so new, but I did get through it. The next few classes were actually much harder, since I was now very conscious of how long 90 minutes really was – when you’re gasping for air just 15 minutes in, it’s very hard to deal with psychologically. For the next three months or so I had to step out of the class on many occasions. What helped me was making a parallel with hiking, which I love to do. When you start a new hike and you know you have four hours ahead of you and then four more back, you have to deal with it psychologically first in order for your body to have a chance at all.

What was it that really got you “hooked” on Bikram Yoga?

I was hooked within days. I finally found a workout that touched almost every single aspect of fitness without delivering any damage to my body. In fact, Bikram Yoga actually redirects massive amounts of blood flow to very specific regions of the body, helping bring more nutrients to every single cell and thereby accelerating the recovery process. I was already used to working out every day with jiu-jitsu so this was just perfect.

How often do you practice Bikram Yoga these days?

As much as possible due to the massive benefits I see in my daily life as a result. In fact, as I’ve seen more and more progress I’ve upped the anti. In the last three months I haven’t missed a day and I’ve done about 30 doubles and even a couple of triples! I see a direct parallel with hiking now: when you start to climb a mountain, getting to the summit is only half the trip. So doing two classes in a day really fits well with what I’ve already trained my body to do.

What do you love most about Bikram Yoga?

I couldn’t come up with a better workout if I tried. I know nothing else that simultaneously works cardio, concentration, strength, balance, will power, endurance and mind-body connection, all without hurting your body. I absolutely love how Bikram Yoga has singlehandedly repaired so many of the injuries I’ve dragged along all these years. From my broken leg to shoulder dislocations and ligament tears, this yoga has made all of those a non-factor in my daily life. On top of that, I’ve gained range, strength and endurance in every single part of my body.

What have some of the challenges been for you in the hot room?

The biggest challenge for me (by a mile) is just that: the hot room. Some people seem not to mind the heat – I’m amazed by that. For me, every class is a heat-management challenge. Following the teacher’s advice, I relocated much closer to the door where air flows a little bit more and I can push the workout much harder without overheating. The other big challenge is to stay present in my body. The mind tends to run around when there’s silence, so bringing it back into your body and connecting it with your breathing is quite a workout. The mind-body connection is something I’ve never really worked on to this depth before, and I see now that it is really key to getting better at the practice of yoga.

Got any good tips for making it through a 90-minute class?

Here are a few tips that have helped me a lot:

  1. It can’t be said enough just how important hydration is. Ninety minutes of sweating is a lot of water and electrolytes lost. The body will suffer greatly if you’re dehydrated. For example, the blood gets thicker and your heart will have to do much more work to accomplish the same goal. Not to mention, muscle cramps, headaches and much, much more.
  2. If you have to sit down during class, try doing so during the easiest poses because you will get the same rest but once you want to integrate that pose back into your practice flow, it’s much easier to add an easy one than a much harder one.
  3. Take the teachers’ feedback. They are a wealth of knowledge and they will help you slowly transition from straining to balancing. You will see an enormous shift in your endurance, making the 90-minute class much easier.

How about some advice on how to make it through two classes in one day?!

Something really key to understand in working out every day or twice a day is that the human body is a finely tuned cyclical machine that only needs the right nutrients, air, water and sleep to perform to perfection. Those cycles can be manipulated – and especially the recovery cycle in this case. Bikram Yoga is an amazing tool for that because it lets you send copious amounts of oxygen and nutrients to all your muscles, joints, organs, etc. Meaning, if you have a nutrient-rich diet and you’re hydrated, your recovery process can be accelerated by doing more yoga! It may sound hard to believe but in the vast majority of the doubles I do I find the second class much easier. My cardio is already warmed up and ready to go, and my whole body is a lot more flexible because of the first class. My biggest milestones of progress have happened in a second class of the day.

Have you done anything else to help advance your practice?

Absolutely. Having a background in jiu-jitsu, I really have a lot of respect for technique and the value of understanding all the intricate details they entail. I have asked an enormous amount of questions from the teachers, who are incredibly generous with their time, experience and knowledge, in order to understand the poses better. Lisa in particular is an absolute master yogi and, with her feedback and that of others, I’ve made enormous progress. You would be surprised by what a difference the most minute adjustments will make to your practice and how fast you progress. The Core 40 class is definitely something that everyone should try. The fact that there are much harder and more-advanced poses in that practice makes the regular one that much easier every time – not to mention that handstands are incredible fun to do!

Tell us a bit about yourself outside of the hot room!

I turned 31 last month and have lived in Vancouver for 11 years. I’m originally from former Yugoslavia but I grew up in Quebec. I own and operate a tiling contracting company. My passion, though, is videography, and I’m slowly doing more of that and less tiling. I love jiu-jitsu and hiking and, along with Bikram Yoga, they complete my sports world. With all the benefits of yoga and the progress my body’s made, I’m planning on going back to jiu-jitsu competition soon. Besides that, when I’m not working or working out, I’m either reading or playing guitar, or prepping for my next Bikram Yoga class!

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