As a teacher it’s fascinating to see the many different people that come through the doors of a yoga studio. Despite the fact that we offer the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises day in day out, the diversity of ages, personalities and abilities that come together in one room continues to amaze me. 

When Gilbert Enoka, the man described as the ‘Brains Behind the All Blacks Brawn’ laid his mat down in my classroom, I had to ask the question; what brought you here?

As NZ’s leading mental skills coach Gilbert is highly respected and sought after by the All Blacks, Black Caps, Silver Ferns, Crusaders and many of NZ’s top companies, firmly believing that individuals who are mentally prepared will perform better whether on the sports field or in business.

It is the mental aspect of the Bikram Yoga Method that has kept him dedicated to rolling out his yoga mat and attending classes, enjoying the opportunity to develop many mental skills, which then get extended into his life outside of the hot room, with increased ability to focus, strengthen the mind and manage diversions in life. 

Having attempted no other style of yoga before Gilbert first started his practice 7 years ago, feeling an instant connection with the discipline and focus required in a Bikram Yoga Class; “I don’t like it…I love it!” 

Many of us can relate that there are very few moments in the day where we are unreachable to the demands of others. While attending any Bikram Yoga Class the phone is left outside the room and it is a perfect opportunity to mentally unload and take time for you. Gilbert comments that part of his commitment to his practice involves giving himself the time before class to switch off from the outside world to calm the mind and decompress. 

The Heat of class can be a challenge for most of us, but Gilbert actually embraces the heat, and is drawn to the precise and specific instruction given by the teachers, making an interesting point - that the room strips you of your individuality; who you are as a person is left outside the room giving yourself over to the traditions of the Yoga Practice. 

Cheekily admitting that the final kapalabhati breathing exercise and savasana are his favorite moments of the practice.  

Gilbert also points out that even after 7 years of practicing the Bikram Yoga Method he remains constantly challenged each time he steps on his mat. Standing Bow Pulling pose is often a reflection of his mental state before beginning class and he passionately comment’s "If I don't push, don't sweat, don't work hard to do everything in the room, I feel like I've compromised the integrity of my practice".

Despite the demands of travel with the All Blacks and Harcourts, Gilbert maintains a regular practice using the phone application Mind Body to locate studios all over the world. Commenting that our beloved Christchurch studio is in fact his favorite; an unbiased compliment based on the quality of teachers that consistently offer a passionate and challenging class under the guidance of Kate Burford.

Bikram Yoga cleanses and nourishes the body and mind like no other exercise and Enoka firmly believes it can bring huge benefits to specific individuals in the professional sport world. 

The Christchurch studio has had its fair share of Crusaders sweating it out in the hot room and it's a training tool we would love to see more included and promoted in local sports teams, businesses and schools all over the country. 

EVERYONE is drawn to this practice through blood sweat and tears for different reasons and I personally have often described it as a 'love hate relationship'. Please share with us your Bikram Yoga story and tell us what keeps you coming back for more so that we can empower others with the knowledge! 

- Written by Jenna Mentink -