Hot Yoga/hot mess

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Well, I'm not sure I have ever felt more unattractive - staring at your sweaty body in a mirror for 90 minutes is tough on the ol' ego.

For those of you who may still be unfamiliar with Bikram yoga (which is slightly different from "hot,") here's the Wiki scoop:

Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional yoga techniques and popularized beginning in the early 1970s. Bikram's classes run exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105°F (≈ 40.6°C) with a humidity of 40%, and is the most popular form of hot yoga (a series of yoga poses done in a heated room).

So, I tried my first class at 8:30 PM Tuesday night with the plan to head home after 10PM to shower and most likely go straight to bed as I expected to be exhausted. I was super early and totally anxious, but the instructor went through the basics (reassuring, since she essentially confirmed I already knew what to expect through my research) and gave me a basic rundown on their space. I headed to the changing room to stash my stuff and then found a place at the back line of the studio where I laid down in savasana and attempted to let my body acclimate to the heat. I didn't hear many people come in and once I opened my eyes after the instructor raised the lights I was somewhat pleased to find we only had about 8 students total in the studio.

It was tough for me from the very beginning and I was sweating lightly before we even got past the first breathing exercise but I stuck it out as much as I possibly could. The standing poses seemed to be the most difficult for me...I used to pride myself on my keen sense of balance, but in class I could not seem to get my knee to lock to create the stability needed for those poses. There was quite a bit of savasana and falling over going on during that part of the series, but I wasn't the only one so it was slightly reassuring. It seems I do have a decent range of flexibility for the floor exercises (possibly left over from my cheer leading days & kept in check with my current yoga regimen) but I clearly still need to work on a lot of strengthening.

I wasn't as exhausted (or smelly) after class as I thought I might be and after I collected my gear and changed my clothes I chatted with the instructor for a few minutes before leaving. She happily told me how Bikram had changed her life, not just her body, and related a few anecdotes that left me thinking "oh hey, that's JUST LIKE ME." I made my way home and hopped in the shower before I grabbed a snack and popped a muscle relaxer (oy, my back) then settled into bed to read for a while and bring my energy level down. I slept well and woke up to find myself not really sore, but definitely feeling worked over. I'd say it's easily the best workout I've had outside of Tae Bo.

That "wow, I look gross" factor is seemingly going to work in my favor as it's an inspiration to go back and keep working on changing my body and through challenging myself, my mind. I've committed myself to going at least twice a week for the next five weeks and I suspect it's gonna hurt a little, but I can tell already I'm going to get some serious results.

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