Since my triathlon season is over for a few months, I decided to try something different — Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 poses all performed in 90 minutes and in a room heated to 105 degrees. That wasn’t a typo. The room was heated to 105 degrees. Crazy, you say? I must agree. But people swear by this Bikram Yoga thing.
F and I dabbled in Bikram yoga years ago in Portland. He recalls his experience as 90 minutes of extreme dehydration while trying to do highly uncomfortable stretches and poses with slippery, sweaty limbs in a hot, stinky room. I shrugged and thought, “It wasn’t that bad.” Was it?
I refreshed my memory tonight. Having arrived 10 minutes early, I entered the yoga room and was immediately slapped in the face by heat and stink. No doubt about it, it was hot and stinky. Like sweaty old socks stinky but I figured I’d get over that soon enough. I rolled out my mat and dropped down flat on my back into savasana, or dead man pose. Hmm, a dark warm room, no kids, major sleep deprivation…I was just about to fall asleep when the teacher flicked on the lights and everyone stood up.
I noticed the scantily clad men and women around me. It made sense men were in short shorts and shirtless and women in sports bras. The room was 105 degrees. But the girl with the bottoms of her butt cheeks hanging out from under her “shorts?” Not necessary.
The instructor started spouting off instructions from the front of the room…arms up, thumbs crossed, lock the elbows and knees, reach for the ceiling, you in the white shorts keep your eyes open, good job black shorts with striped towel, white shorts white shorts keep your knees locked…Bikram Yoga is a little different in that the instructor does not circulate around the room adjusting people’s postures. As a student, I had to watch the more experienced students very carefully and listen to the teacher’s cues.
90 minutes of sweaty yoga was a roller coaster ride. There were moments of “Oh, this feels great. I LOVE this. I feel powerful!” followed by moments of “Dammit. I’m never doing this ever again. I can’t even hold my ankle because I’m too sweaty. I should have gone running instead.” But, for the most part, I felt flexible and strong and definitely saw many areas for improvement. Unfortunately, I drained my water bottle before class ended, which left me a bit light headed toward the end. I did a few extra savasanas because of that.
When class was over, I gathered my sweat-drenched towel and mat and shakily walked out into fresh cool air. Ahhhhhhhhh.
I will say, despite the shaky arms and legs, and after I spent 5 minutes in the cool evening air, I felt pretty darn good. Refreshed even. But sheesh, a 9 mile run would have been a much easier workout! I guess that’s the point — to try something new and challenge my mind and body in a different way. So I have plans to go back, and this time I’m bringing at least a gallon of water!