I hate being left out. I hate feeling like I’m one step behind what everyone else is doing. In many ways, I’m like a little puppy who doesn’t want to close his eyes for fear he might miss something. (In the puppy’s case, it may be dinner or a much needed escort to a fire hydrant). In my case, I’m afraid of missing life, fun, excitement, challenges, and all of the joy it has to offer.
That’s why when not one, not two, but three friends recommend I try Bikram yoga for my strength, flexibility and back/hip issues, how could I NOT try it? Apparently, they have the key to life’s big secret and were willing to share it with me. I admit right away that I was petrified to attend my first class. It was most certainly a combination of apprehension about being in a 105 degree room for 90 minutes, intimidation that I was going to look ridiculous while everyone else looked perfect, and a phobia of injuring myself or even passing out in front of the entire class. Essentially, I was afraid of FAILING. Imagine that.
Fortunately, FEAR of FAILURE may stall me at first, but it has also become my fuel to succeed. Fear of failure drove me to move to Austin without knowing a soul, try stand up comedy, join a running group, finish my first marathon, try my first triathlon, get married, walk in my first yoga class, etc. and ultimately successfully complete all of the above.
Thanks to my friend Tracy, I didn’t have to walk into my first Bikram class alone. I met her there and just seeing a familiar face made it that much easier to walk through the door. Let’s face it. We chicks can’t even pee by ourselves, let alone walk into a yoga studio where clothing is at a minimum and skinny toned bodies are at a maximum. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been to my fair share of yoga classes so I automatically assumed that Enya would be playing over the speakers, the lights would be off, candles would be lit and I’d be seeing life through my mysterious third eye. WRONG.
Naturally, the first thing you notice when you walk in the studio is the heat and humidity (105 degrees to be exact). The next thing you notice is the smell of sweat/body odor from classes and yogis gone by. All of the lights are on, no music is playing and the instructor is just that–a teacher (or drill sergeant). They stand on the stage and talk the class through the 26 postures with their rehearsed script. Every class is the same. Every posture is the same. Even the script is virtually the same from instructor to instructor. I was a little shocked at my first class because the instructor sounded almost like an “auctioneer” instead of a hippy-trippy granola yoga instructor. It didn’t take more than two minutes (with the initial breathing exercises) to realize that this class was going to be vastly different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s definitely NOT your traditional flow yoga class.
All that being said, I LOVED IT and actually surprised myself with my ability to get through the class and some of the postures I didn’t think were possible for me. Now, I have visions of looking like a Japanese Ham Sandwich since I’ll never eat one. I’m envisioning being able to fully lock my knees someday and still reach my forehead to it.
After almost two weeks of a daily 90 minute practice (combined with a full swim, bike and run schedule), I’m already noticing a huge difference physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m already able to go deeper into some of the postures I could barely hold before. Just today, I was finally able to get my elbows all the way back for this crazy pose. The official name is “supta vajrasana.” I prefer to call it the “How am I ever going to get up from this” pose. I did it! (But I look nothing like that biatch below)
I also am almost able to wrap all my toes around my calf in Eagle Pose. And yes, I look as ridiculous as this chick below (but I have more belly goo).
They refer to Bikram yoga as an “open-eyed meditation” and I totally get it. The entire 90 minutes is one of focus, control and determination. While I may not be totally into it at the beginning, by the end, I am so relaxed and drenched with buckets of sweat that I just want to lay in the room all day–yes, the stinky, smelly room that feels and smells like Houston. I’m sleeping better at night and my moods have been lifted because I’m focusing on something other than my stupid hip and back. Have I noticed an improvement in my injuries? Hard to say since I’m still riding a bunch, swimming, and running 1-2 times per week. There’s still certainly some inflammation, but the stretching benefit is huge. My body just feels better and I know it’s also helping my cardiovascular and skeletal systems, as much as my muscular system.
So, officially add Bikram junkie to my list of addictions these days. I have friends who are doing the Bikram 60-Day challenge and have already lost a tremendous amount of body fat and gained lean muscle mass and flexibility. The results truly have spoken for themselves. I’ve gone 10 days in a row and totally hope it can be a part of my regular workout routine a least 4-5 times per week. The only thing that stops me? All of the freakin’ laundry I have to do now!! No wonder why people wear as few clothes as possible!