Despite jogging, lifting weights, biking, hiking, rock climbing, skiing and playing hockey (phew!), Rob, an environmental assessment biologist, makes time for three to four Bikram Yoga classes a week. He recently celebrated his one-year yoga anniversary at Bikram Yoga Vancouver’s ! In his Student Profile, Rob tells us why “real men” do Bikram Yoga (guys: he’s got some great advice just for you).

What do you remember about your very first Bikram Yoga class?

I actually took my first class not one but two years ago – I got one-week trial memberships at both Bikram Yoga Vancouver and Bikram Yoga Commercial Drive. A friend of mine was just getting into it then and, with some past injuries bothering me, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. I remember that first class was hot. But, since I like to work out, it was appropriately difficult for me to appreciate the impact.

I didn’t keep going with it for long at that point. I was getting a stupidly good deal on my gym membership at the time and living on the North Shore – it was hard to get to the studios in Vancouver to practice. But once I moved closer, that changed. My injuries were still bothering me and, after having worked out the cost (the awesome deal I was getting at the gym ended), it made sense to go back to Bikram.

I officially got back into it on October 2, 2010. I remember the exact date because it was the day after my friend’s wedding and we had just spent an entire week eating. I actually had a food nightmare. I’d been mulling over going back to yoga for a while and, since it was an Indian wedding, it seemed rather “poetic” to counteract the vast amounts of Indian food I’d consumed with Indian fitness.

What made you stick with it the second time around?

It’s quite simple, really. I’ve had a grand total of four surgeries on my left leg and was slated to go in for a fifth in August. Bikram Yoga lessened the throbbing pain in my ankle to the point that I cancelled that surgery (I probably have Fixed Firm Pose to thank). Yoga has also cured – yes, cured – the chronic pain in my wrist from an accident I had five years ago (after just a few weeks of doing Locust Pose), the pain in my shoulder that started when I separated it in a hockey game and the pain in my knee that was keeping me from rock climbing.

Since I started practising regularly, I’ve increased my season point totals in hockey doubled and then tripled (that’s just plain numbers); I’m now on offense instead of defense. I have more energy, and can skate harder, faster and longer than I ever did. I don’t get hurt as often and my skills have improved. I can hike, ski, and rock climb pain free. And, on top of everything else, Bikram Yoga has become an emotional outlet; the hot room is a safe place for me to just be.
How can I credit all this to Bikram Yoga? Easy: it was the only change I made.

Do “real men” do Bikram Yoga?

Real people do yoga. There is nothing gender- or class- or race-specific to yoga. Exercise to your body is like drawing on an Etch A Sketch: you scratch and scar it trying to make the ultimate picture of yourself. Yoga shakes your body up and clears the slate. Guys should try Bikram Yoga because it’s always hard and it makes you better at whatever else you do.

Any advice for Bikram beginners, especially guys?

Check your ego at the door; you’re fighting yourself, not the person next to you. Do exactly what the instructor says (guys should think of the teacher as the coach; if you don’t listen, you get cut). If you can’t do the whole pose then get it as close as possible, but never do it wrong. Your “edge” is a moving target and there will be bad days. On the practical side, don’t eat three hours before class (give the other half to Danny) and try to find the cold spot – unless I’m already there.

Guys AND gals: do you attribute any improvements in your other physical activities to Bikram Yoga? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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