Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Signs of Bikram devotion

The Bikram Yoga Centre always draws a large crowd on Monday evenings. It seems that everyone wants to detox after a weekend of transgressions. As the week progresses, fewer and fewer people come to the evening classes. By Thursday, I can actually stretch out my arms in Poorna - Salabhasana without hitting my neighbours. And by Friday, well, I have no neighbours!

Last night the studio was packed as usual and there was virtually no space in the change room before class. Jen, one of the regulars (who does come to the Friday class), was spotted amongst the crowd putting lotion on her knees. When asked, she said it was because she had developed sores on various parts of her body from the yoga. "Bikram Stigmata!" I exclaimed.

Bikram stigmata? Well, it's a term I only learned myself a few months ago (from Twitter no less). Apparently, those of us who practice the yoga a lot, develop calluses where our skin regularly comes into contact with our mats. I have them on the tops of my feet from fixed firm, my knees from camel, my chin from locust, and the middle of my back from... I don't know where exactly. Lying in savasana?

While they're not pretty, I am very fond of my Bikram stigmata and wear them proudly. In fact, you'll often find lifting up my pants or pulling off my socks to show them to people – my very own battle wounds from the yoga I love so much. A sign of my devotion to my practice.

Back to the packed change room last night. When the conversation of the stigmata came up, all the women present (and there were a lot) started comparing their marks and lesions. And those who didn't sport them, looked upon those of us who did in awe. Carol, who completed a 365-day challenge last October, told us she had to resort to wearing capris half-way through, as her knees were just too raw. Others talked about applying shea butter to help reduce the irritation or removing the towel over the mat during the offending poses to prevent the stigmata from worsening. We compared and we shared. It was a real Bikram bonding experience.

So the next time you're taking a class or in the change room, check out those around you to see if you can spot the signs of true Bikram devotion. If nothing else, it makes for great conversation.


  1. I love my Bikram stigmata too! I have them on the tops of my feet and knees but nothing on my chin. It is amazing what brings people together!

  2. hahaha you are funny. You are both proud of your stigmata marks!!! I am not in love with mines but
    hey let me come out of the closet, mines are around my big toes :)

  3. ELBOWS! I now have them on my elbows too.

  4. What pose gives you stigmata on your elbows? I just checked mine out and they are unscathed.

  5. elbows - probably locust pose!

  6. actually, that would be the other side of the elbow. I am curious too!!

  7. I figured it out tonight! Fixed firm would give you stigmata on your elbows. Funny that it hasn't happened to me.

  8. Tops of my feet, knees, middle finger knuckles on both hands, and the most insane fat callus on the lower inside part of my right middle finger!

    Plus my face has been breaking out like crazy and I have a weird itchy reddish spot on my neck. *sigh*

  9. Stigmata on your hands! Wow! My knuckles often hurt when I'm pulling on my feet in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, but I slather moisturizer on my hands constantly, which has prevented any calluses from forming.

    In terms of breakouts... I broke out severely as soon as I started practicing the yoga regularly. I'm in my 30s and my face was completely full of cystic acne -- worse than when I was a teenager! For a while I thought I'd have to quit Bikram yoga as the situation was out of control. I ended up going on the BCP and it cleared up completely within months. It was the only solution for me.

    This winter I also developed a weird rash on my thighs and upper arms. Applying shea butter helped.