Bikram Yoga Newbie: Sweaty, Bendy and Spent

[photo: Tony George]

 

As I write this, I realize that I am risking spoiling the appetites of my 27 readers who may begin to picture me all sweaty holding extremely compromising yoga positions.  I am really sorry about that, but if it helps, rest assured no speedos were worn or harmed in the writing of this post.

Again, I am sorry.

This week I started doing Hot Yoga, also known as Bikram Yoga.  A new studio opened in my next of the woods, called Hot Yoga Ocean Avenue. Since I have always wanted to try it out, but have never been brave enough, I walked by it a few times before finally going inside, seeing the layout and getting some info.  Folks were friendly and inviting so tried a couple of classes and voila, I’m a fan.

Now I have only done yoga a couple of times with friends, but have always felt a little self-conscious about actually going to a studio.  Those yoga mat carrying hipsters can be a little intimidating, you know ;-) But now, thanks to Rebecca and the rest of the crew, I have found a great convergence of activity, proximity and results that might keep me going for bit.  You can see my Yelp Review of Hot Yoga, but suffice it to say, if you are in the SF Bay area, you should give them a shot.

There are many reasons that I would encourage folks to try this out, most of which is that if you have a life that is wonderfully chaotic, but have little time to slow down, exercise and focus on a single task, this might be a good thing for you.

The first thing that I noticed is that staying upright is not easy.  In my first week, I have learned two things about balance, first, my low center of gravity has once again shown its usefulness, and B, there are distractions a plenty during a 90 minute class.  Taking your eyes off of the focus point or listening to the sighs and groans of other people in the room will doom you to weeble-wobbling and falling down.  Maintaining a single focus by looking at your forehead or ankle while listening only to the instructor for direction in order to keep balanced was mind clearing and difficult.  As I felt my brain drifting off to my work, family or thinking to myself, “this will blog” I would inevitably find myself drifting off-center.  Clearing my head and allowing my mind and body to focus on a single task for 90 minutes is taxing, rewarding and not something that I am compelled to do all that often.

Another thing that I have enjoyed thus far is the opportunity to experience being encouraged to stretch more, focus better or hold positions longer without the need to be perfect.  I could succeed at some poses and be comedically pathetic at others all without feeling like I was failing.  The yoga-ites – What does one call someone who does yoga, anyway? –  in the class that I took represented a range of yoga competency, some of whom were way bendy and stretchy while others were well, not so much.

Lastly, I would say that you should give it a go if you feel like you want an experience where at the end of the time your body, mind and spirit have had a refreshing, but intense workout.  At the end of the 90 minutes I feel sweaty and spent, but also invigorated and accomplished.  Good stuff and easy to see why people get hooked on the Bikram life.

So . . . for those of you who have never tried it, if this 40’ish and not traditionally graceful urbanite boy can make a go of it, so can you.  Let me know how it goes.

Namaste.

5 comments

  • Pingback: My 2011 Blogging Year in Review | Bruce Reyes-Chow

  • Hayley  

    Awesome. I haven’t tried bikram yoga (have to admit I’m not into the whole sweating thing in general) but am a big fan of hatha/vinyasa/whatever yoga and wish I could go regularly again – definitely I always left yoga sessions feeling refreshed and it really saved me during a very stressful time.

  • Lisa  

    People who do yoga are yogis and yoginis. :)

  • Clover  

    yoga-ite? yogi?
    Bruce, thank you for the encouragement!

  • Danielle Shroyer  

    Hey Bruce,
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve done hot yoga for a number of years now and find it to be a great place to fully unplug from all the concerns of pastoral life. As you said, it requires such intense focus for 90 minutes, and it feels great to zone out all the voices for a while and just think about holding a pose. I’ve said often that yoga has also been a great help to my prayer life- I come away from my practice far more ready to listen, to be still, and to focus. Hope you keep it up!

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