Bikram Yoga – heating things up
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If my body were my friend, she would hate me. I deprive her of sleep and I feed her until her skinny jeans reached suffocating levels of tightness. I keep her working two jobs with too full a class load. And I put her in shoes that pinch her feet.
In an effort to save the relationship between me and my body, I decided to treat myself (with the intent to slim down) to a trial of bikram yoga.
Bikram yoga is practiced in a scorching 100-degree room, with 40 percent humidity. I thought that with years of elementary school P.E. in triple-digit Vegas weather and years of dance practice would have conditioned me to handle the 26 poses and two breathing exercises this hot form of yoga offered.
I was so wrong.
I wish someone would have told me about the nearly unbearable stench that punched me in the face as soon as I walked in the room. It smelled like the moldy, sweaty in-betweens of stinky toes.
As if the humidity didn’t already make it hard enough to breathe.
I set up my yoga mat, sipped some water (they recommend not drinking too much 30 minutes before class) and tried adjusting to the heat.
The first set of poses focused on stretching our upper bodies and breathing deeply to stretch our lungs. With the advancement of the posture, the more balance, the more contraction of muscles and more coordination I needed. I soon found out I didn’t have it like I used to in my younger days.
Within 10 minutes of the class beginning, my entire body was completely drenched in sweat. The sweat droplets were so fat I thought the people around me were leaking. It was hard to hold postures like eagle pose — where you wrap one leg around your standing leg — or even stand holding my big toe, because I was so slippery.
I wondered why on earth they had a carpeted floor. Every other time I had practiced yoga it was in a room with wood floors, but here the carpet was like a trap for the odor that filled the room. I soon found out the carpet trapped the gallons of sweat that hit the floor instead of letting the room become a slippery death trap where a yogi could lose her balance and injure herself.
Thirty minutes into the class, the heat was almost too intense to handle and the poses got increasingly demanding of flexibility and balance. We repeated each of the 26 poses twice on both the left and right sides. I thought that was a little over the top.
Just breathing felt like an exercise in itself. Because the class almost entirely composed of beginners, I didn’t feel bad taking a few breaks to just sit, find my center and breathe, because everyone else paused periodically too.
Somewhere between dead body pose and wind removing pose was where I started getting dizzy and nauseous. The instructor was motivating… but too motivating. She instructed the class to push themselves. With each pose, she urged, “Now everyone, really stretch your muscles, stretch your bones, stretch your skin… really become a dead body.”
I felt like I was really going to.
I wasn’t sure what was more irritating at this point in the class, the heat or the sound of her voice. But I endured.
My body was throbbing, my face was red and my hair was frizzy. Sweat poured from my head, which made it difficult to keep my eyes and chakras open.
But despite the near-death part of the experience, bikram yoga, with all its intensity, is one of the best things I could do for my body. I’ve never been more mentally or physically challenged in my life.
Sweating by the gallon, albeit disgusting, is extremely detoxifying. I used to find it so easy to snack and over indulge with food, but after this thousand calorie-burning workout, it’s hard to find the energy to eat as much as I used to.
But maybe it’s not that I’m too tired to eat — bikram yoga is all about the transfer of energies and I did have plenty of it throughout the rest of the day. It’s that I have more energy to do more fun things than eat.
I almost cursed the impulsivity that led me to buy the special-offer- 25 classes for $25. It was such a good bargain, I felt like I was making a deal with the devil. But despite feeling like I’m doing yoga in hell, I think it’ll be worth working toward feeling and looking hot.