What Bikram Teaches : Humility

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my first post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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Lets all try a relatively simple exercise.

Stand up out of your chair

Touch your toes. And don’t bend your knees.

Easy ‘peasy right? Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

….

allposes About Bikram Yoga

In theory – most of the postures in Bikram look easy – especially for those of us who have had some basic athletic training. In other exercise classes (I’m looking at you Zumba), I’ve even done Spine Twisting Pose to warm up. Granted – Awkward Pose is called that for a reason – but looking at these simple outlines doesn’t seem daunting.

And while many are turned off by the idea of the “hot” room – we all go to the beach every summer. In the throngs of a New York City winter, we long for the days of 98, 99, 100 degree weather – with short shorts and cold showers.

From the outside – Bikram isn’t as scary as CrossFit. (It’s just as addictive – but no where near as scary). It’s not as insurmountable as biking across the Swedish Alps. It’s not as improbable as winning the New York City marathon.

From the outside.

I was an outsider once. I thought I could easily handle these 26 postures.

  • Triangle pose? – No problem.
  • Standing head to Knee – Simple!
  • Cobra pose? – Easy as pie.

Then I actually tried Bikram….

The more I practice, the harder the poses become. The pose isn’t a singular pose – it disguises it’s self as the singular – but in reality – it’s comprised of multiple poses, in multiple parts of the body.

It’s not “Half Moon”

It’s suck the stomach,

push down

center the hips

raise the chin

push down

look up

arch your upper body back

weight in the heels

push and push and push and push.

 

The more I think I know – the more I realize I don’t. And Humility joined me on my mat.

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In Today’s “Obvious World News” : Bikram Yoga is Hot

Love & Life, Yoga

Bikram yoga is hot.

Very Hot. Ghost Pepper Hot. Florida in August hot.

Part of my 2013 New Years Resolution (which I swear I’m actually going to keep) is to do the Bikram 30 Day Challenge. Which (obviously) is completing 30 consecutive days of Bikram yoga. And if you’ve never done Bikram, it seems fairly easy. You may think, “People go to the gym for 30 days all the time!” (For an example – please see any topless Ryan Gosling photos).

However – Bikram is not the same. At all.

First, it’s 90 minutes – which is longer than most folks go to the gym. And it’s 105 DEGREES with 90% HUMIDITY. Do you know what that means? That means your body is crying sweat the moment you walk in the door. Your body looks like you swam the English channel about 5 minutes into the class. I bring 2 (count ’em, 2!) towels.

And then, there are the positions themselves. Have you ever tried to touch your nose to your knee, while standing, with your legs at a 90 degree angle?

I have.

I can’t do it, per say, but I’ve tried.

All that being said, last night, I went to my first Bikram class in about 8 months. I knew what to expect. I drank a lot of water during the day, I didn’t eat anything 2.5 hours before class, and, as mentioned, I brought extra towels. I thought, “I may not be able to do all the postures perfectly, but at least I’ll be able to do the class”

Nope. Not even close.

(What follows is a pretty accurate re-telling of my internal monologue)

Minutes 5- 7 : “Huh – it’s hotter than I remember in here…”

Minutes 7 – 10 : “Maybe I’d better sit this set out”

Minutes 10 – 12 : “What is this tingely sensation in my fingers & hands?!”

Minutes 12 – 15 : (cue wave of nausea)

Minutes 15 – 17 : “Annnnnnnd I’m seeing stars. I should probably leave now…..”

Needless to say, I stumbled my way out of the class room. What a flattering impression I must have made on all my new classmates/yogi. After a 5 minute cool down on the icy tiled floor of the ladies locker room, I decided to go back in. The nausea had passed, and while I was willing to let my fear of public vomiting stop me from going back, my fear of “not being able to do it” wasn’t.

I washed my face, attempted to tame the frizzy mess of hair on my head, and tramped back into the studio.

My yogi gave me 2 thumbs up.

And I’m going back tonight 🙂