Mentally and emotionally, wow! Bikram talks about loose screws in the head, mine were not loose, they were lost. Wound tight, grumpy, sharp, and paranoid has been my state for years. Those around me flabbergasted at the change in my demeanor. I've been told I am calmer, approachable, and even kinder.

CRAIG CULBERTSON | ONE YEAR OF BIKRAM YOGA

Bikram yoga, yet another hat I tried on in my life. Over one year ago I wanted something more challenging than my morning hourly walk. Why yoga came to mind, I am not sure. I had occasionally watched “Exhale” on the Oprah channel and it reminded me of “The Jack La Lane Show” I watched as a chubby child only with yoga. I looked appealing and had a wide range of people. I might fit in. I Googled “Yoga Asheville” and had a look. Finding Bikram Yoga Asheville’s web site, I studied it for a week or so and built up my courage to try it. On September 11, 2009 at 8:00 AM I took my first class. I was so nervous; I am still amazed I walked through the door. I changed in to my shorts and tee shirt and went into that heated room. Puck (well a word that sounds like that) is the only word to describe what happened to me in the first five minutes. I knew I was going to die before I got to the end of class. I am sure I went into some type of black out. A true nightmare for a dyslexic. Right over left, left over right, hands on the inside hands on the outside, top of mat back of mat, focus, breathe, leg up, leg down, hands in prayer, hands clasped. Who in the hell can talk that fast yet alone move? No doubt I looked like Bozo facing the wrong way holding the wrong foot while sitting on the floor, when everyone else was standing ”looking into their own eyes”. Soaking wet from head to toe, beet red, with seat pouring from every pore on my body I heard the words you made it ,” lay on your back.” Sweet words and in good timing because I was about to be there and not by choice. At some point a door was opened, I met God. I did not know that God come in the form of a slight breeze that feels like arctic air loaded with pure oxygen. I had no clue I would feel the way I did immediately after that class, it was euphoric! Never have I felt that good or if I had it was a very long time ago or drug induced. It was the high I have chased my whole adult life. Wondering if such a reward would come again I returned the next day, and some four hundred plus times in the past year. I have not been let down. It’s sound so cliché but Bikram yoga rewards in so many ways.

Picking up the Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class book and reading it cover to cover, I got to the back of the book (page 199) “Maintaining Proper Yoga Practice”. I got to the second paragraph, Stage One, I quote “Do the Full Class religiously each day for two months” and “if you have any chronic disease, you should continue daily until your condition is resolved” So I have done just that. Results from a medical view point- STUNNING! I had been plagued by hypertension and on two medications for seven years with increasing dosage each year. I now have eliminated one drug completely and take 75% LESS of the other. My numbers now are that of a baby. Cholesterol numbers are also impressive from a total reading of 170 to 136, with a 10 point jump in HDL the good cholesterol. Weight loss is thirty plus pounds with eighteen of them in the first three months. From a thirty three inch waist to a thirty inch waist All lost in that crazy hot room!

Though not a number, I suffered from Tinnitus daily, to the point of having to go to bed at times, being told that nothing can be done by my doctor. I have found huge relief and now go days without the constant ringing in my ears and have not had to take to the bed in a year. That a big one for me, whereas at times death seemed more acceptable than hearing the screaming in my ears.

Mentally and emotionally, wow! Bikram talks about loose screws in the head, mine were not loose, they were lost. Wound tight, grumpy, sharp, and paranoid has been my state for years. Those around me flabbergasted at the change in my demeanor. I’ve been told I am calmer, approachable, and even kinder. I am encouraged by them to do the yoga, because my yoga makes their life better. That’s very cool! Old deep issues of mine have slowly been rising to the surface over the year. I now have the need and ability to deal with them, not mask or push them back as I did for years. The skeletons are coming out of the closet and they are not so scary anymore. Body image being just one of many deep issue of mine. I had some big relief just a couple of months ago. The only time I have worn shorts in the past twenty five years is in the yoga room and my chest tummy has not been expose at all. Shame and embarrassment has ruled much of my life in many ways. While in St. Augustine I took my first Bikram class without my shirt on. Pools of tears fill my eyes as I type this. Freedom, from such a simple action as taking a shirt off in a hot room melted away years my shame and I was no longer embarrassed. I headed to the beach after class and walked in the warm sun with people all around in just my shorts. Who is this person? I could not wait to get back to BYA to take the test, I passed. Silly to many of you but there is a few who can relate to this. This is the tip of iceberg for me. All the Doctors, psychologists, and clergy ever offered for my mental and physical bondage are pale compared to the results of my one year of Bikram yoga. To quote Sean, “this is BIG medicine”. Yoga works from the outside in for me. Peeling back layers exposing anew at every class. All the help I have had in the past have been attempts to heal from the inside out with very poor results. Just do the yoga- that’s it. Breakthroughs are on the way!

I have read that teachers are not to take credit but to pass it to the yoga. For me I look at teachers and the yoga as equal partners. My testimonial has to include a little of my journey in my daily class. I feel so fortunate to go to a yoga studio with such a large a diverse group qualified teachers. Each so special to me for you have guided me through my amazing transformation. My class begins as I pull into the parking lot, looking for your familiar cars or bike. Who will be teaching? Who do I get the honor to practice with? As I walk through the door and look behind the desk, I’m so glad to see you. I feel like I have not seen you in a long time even if you taught yesterday. I know you must have days that you just don’t feel like teaching but never have I ever seen you show it. That’s incredible! I now know who I will turn MY CONTROL over to. Yet another yoga lesson- control. I cross the threshold into the “hot box” to choose my island for the class. The anticipation kicks in, and trying avoiding that, though process still eludes me. The journey will soon begin. Where will your song take me today? I can never second-guess that. How close can you guide me to getting my body and mind work together today? Tall order, but you are always up to the job. How do you know? It’s as if there is a billboard above my head that says push or back off. Rewarding with a verbal butter cookie even when not necessarily deserved but just at a moment of need. Your timing is impeccable. Who in the hell am I to think you can’t count in Awkward, Standing Separate leg, or Triangle! Damn, you know that I need to and can hold it a little longer. But I don’t until you test me. I truly trust you, I’m clay in your hands confident you will mold me into the best yogi I can be. Ninety minutes is so short with you, though ten seconds can be so long. It’s magic what you do! If you don’t mind when I grow up I want to be a Bikram yoga teacher just like you!