I tried Bikram yoga for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It’s the kind of yoga where they crank the thermostat up to 105 degrees and then you do yoga for an hour and a half while sweating balls. Did I say sweating? The word “sweat” does not really encompass the sprinkler-like way my body’s moisture reserves evacuated through every pore. Dripping. Drenched. Soaked. They warned me in advance to bring a big towel. I don’t know if one was enough.
When I first walked into the room the temperature was pleasant. It was a like being in a sauna, only not as humid. I wasn’t doing anything strenuous yet. Plus, it was freezing outside and the warmth was more than welcome. It doesn’t take long, however, before you really start to feel the effects.
I am proud to say that I made it through the full ninety minutes without feeling light-headed or needing to lie down. Several other people in the class lie down on their mats for a few minutes at a time. I’m told it’s common, and in fact during the brief orientation the instructor made it clear that it was not only acceptable but encouraged to do so at any point during the class. The only real difficulty I encountered was that some of the poses were just beyond my skill level, and while we were told to only go as far as we comfortably could go, I wasn’t always sure what to do when I couldn’t do the full-out pose the more advanced students did.
Did I enjoy the class? I would have to say no. At one point the instructor came by and asked if it was more intense than I expected, and I said no. I wasn’t trying to be badass. What I meant was, I’d been told ahead of time that this was going to be VERY intense, and the class lived up to its expectations. By the end I felt dazed, and my body felt like it was made out of jelly. The studio is only four blocks from my apartment, but I still waited for the bus because I just wasn’t up to the walk. However, for the next couple of days I felt AWESOME. Sore, but awesome.
I thought maybe I should try a less exhausting yoga class, but one of the things I liked about this was the sense of accomplishment when it was over. A few days later I did go back and try a beginners’ Vinyasa class, which was informative but didn’t have the same “holy crap what have I gotten myself into?” vibe that made the Bikram class so exciting.
Would I go back? If I could afford it, I’d like to think maybe I would. Yoga ain’t cheap. I have a couple home yoga tapes, but they really don’t do it for me. It helps to have the instructor there. At the same time, not knowing anybody there added to the anxiety level. Also, I’m not a fan of all the talk about “chakras” and “union” and whatnot. It gives me the embarrassment shivers. I’m there to lose weight. I’m not on some kind of spiritual journey.
So, yeah. Bikram yoga. I’ll give the whole experience two and a half stars out of four. Two and a half sweaty, sweaty stars.