So after a 4 year hiatus, I decided to take a leap of faith and try out Bikram Yoga once again. I happened to pass by a Bikram studio, Bikram Berlin, (easy to remember!) on my way home from work one evening, it’s only about 10-15 minute walk from the apartment I’m staying in, and they had a promotion of 10 days of yoga for only 10 Euros! I love promotions like these, (remembering fondly that my first Bikram experience was a similar promotion of 30 for 30,) so I mustered up the courage and took my dubious yogi self to class.
Memories of this pose, among others, brought me back! (No, I can't do that.)
I arrived 20 minutes before class and spoke directly with the instructor, Rachel, who is an English speaker hailing from Toronto. She assured me that “It will all come back.” and “I have complete confidence that you will do great!” With such reassuring words, the fear of a yoga studio heated to 100 degrees and filled with 30-40 strangers melted away, (no pun intended,) so I grabbed a mat and set up shop right by the windows. She had recommended I sit by the windows since it gives the best vantage point into the room so I could follow the lead of the other more experiences yogis, but I think also, secretly, she knew she’d be letting in small blasts of air from those little godsends and that I would be closest to it for a quick cool down!
I was worried about the heat, even though probably more than anyone else I know, I relish the thought of baking in intense heat and sunshine for hours at a time without moving. I guess this little bit of me proved that practice makes perfect. While it was hot in that studio for 90 minutes, I powered through and never felt like I was going to pass out. Okay, well at one point with my head tilted back while attempting a human bridge of sorts, I thought I might pass out, but that was fleeting!
You'd be surprised how challenging this position is!
People around me threatened to cave to their bodies’ impulse to shut the show down, one girl even tried to leave after only 15 minutes of practice, but the instructor told her it wasn’t allowed and to please sit back down on her mat. From then on, she meant business. The guy next to me was huffing and puffing and sweating profusely. If it hadn’t been so hot, and a little bit dark, I’d swear his black skin was turning a rare shade of green, but even he powered through, with only a few short breaks here and there to try and recompose himself.
When you think of yoga, you think of stretching your body to it’s limits, literally and figuratively, but I think people always assume it is easy and maybe even a lazy way to get exercise. While I find it hard to consider regular Hatha yoga as intense, (purely because the level of sweat is so much less,) I know that my body benefits from testing out different muscles’ capabilities. For anyone who thinks hot yoga will be a piece of cake, you might want to prepare yourself a little better before jumping in!
There's none of this in Bikram...but it looks peaceful!
90 minutes later the teacher was congratulating us on a job well done, and reminded us to thank ourselves for going in today (propoganda? or simply the truth?) In all seriousness, I was thanking myself for going in! I was so impressed I’d be able to make it through, and did not seem too much worse for the wear. I guess the running and walking have helped keep my body active and more capable of doing 90 minutes of intense stretching, (as compared to in college when I was pretty damn lazy!) So I left feeling invigorated, had pretty much the deepest sleep of my life last night, and packed a bag of clothes to try it all again tonight. Let’s just hope yesterday’s experiment wasn’t just beginner’s luck!