Hot Yogi in the City

There are such an outstanding number of facets to yoga and the idea of trying to submerge myself in the practice has become increasingly daunting the more I read and learn about it. Laura seconds my stress when she said that when she reads Yoga Journal she feels like she needs flash cards to remember all the new terms that are stuffed into one issue (always thinking like a teacher!). I have come to terms with the fact that there is no crash course in and am taking small steps in understanding the bigger picture of the stretches and poses. I’m confident in my beginner practice and flexibility, so I decided this week to take it to a different level. I took my first bikram yoga class.

Bikram yoga is a specific yoga practice that is done is a room that is headed to 105 degrees. I did it originally because it’s the closest yoga studio to my apartment and the reviews of it rave about when it does to your body and how you sweat out toxins and stretch deeper, etc. Cut to my first class the other night. Sweet baby Shiva, this was like a 90 min tour of the 6th circle of hell (I say hell only because this type of yoga is actually very anti-yoga and goes against a lot of the core principles of the practice. More on that later) I walked in prepared for the heat and sweating but this was no normal sweating. I have run 10 miles in the middle of August through Hell, MI (literally) and I know sweating. But this, this was not normal humane sweating. This was water coming out of every pore in my body. Within 15 min I had stripped off my tank top and my sports bra was soaked through. I actually think the only thought in my brain that got me through the first half of the class was being completely enthralled with the amount of “toxin” coming out of my skin. Unfortunately, after the phenomenon of my secretions had subside, I realized with shock, that I was actually in yoga boot camp. The poses forced you to freeze your muscles for up to a minute, it was fast paced with the instructor clapping every time you had to come out of your position, always changing directions and bending at the waist. Anyone that has woken up hungover on a hot summer day knows that the last thing your body wants to do jerk up and down and side to side. After 60 min of freezing and twisting and stretching, my eyes gave up on focusing and my head went into a fog. I pride myself in all I’ve learned and am able to do in my normal yoga classes after a year of practice, but I couldn’t get through this without stopping for water after every pose and towards the end I had to skip a few, something I am never proud to do. At the end I was ready for Savasana when I can lay flat on my back and let my body unscramble and take in everything it just went through. But no, class was over abruptly. I opened my eyes and looked around as everyone was rolling up their mats and talking to their friends. Nothing like a normal class when it take you 10 min to get up and you want to stay inside your head as long as possible without talking to people. You also don’t normally look drunk as you struggle to stand, roll your mat, and make it across the room into the air conditioned lobby. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn on my way to my happyland afterwards. I wasn’t calm, I hated my body, I was a mess of sweat, I was walking down Clark St in a sports bra, all social norms out the window, and convinced I was going to have my chance run in with Johnny Depp at that moment (It’s inevitably going to happen. Someday.) I was, above all, pissed off. It shock me that something related to yoga, my release, my relaxer, my core, could mess with my emotions and my body so much. Never again, I said.

The unfortunate lesson behind this story is never buy a month-long pass to a yoga class you have never tried before. I spent $30 for an unlimited first month of classes. I had never seen such a deal for yoga classes before so I jumped at it! HA. But I had to make some good come of this experience. Asside from a newly formed try-before-you-buy philosophy, I am now determined to see where all these rave reviews of the class come from, why people are addicted to it. So I am going to continue to go to the class once or twice a week for the next month and see where my experience goes. But I am also going to get myself back into my safe haven asana yoga classes to calm my mind from this military style bikram yoga.

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