I typed Bikram Yoga, a hot version of Hatha Yoga, into Google and came up with 100,000 hits in .16 seconds. It appears that I was out of the loop. Always up for a challenge, I signed up.
April 19, 2004
11:30 p.m. – The dress code for women is bike shorts and a sports bra or tank top. I ransacked my bedroom and finally unearth them from the back of the closet. I wriggled into the black lyrca and checked myself out in the mirror. Two very hairy legs leered back at me. Where the heck was the leg waxing kit?
12:45 a.m. – Waxing kit found. My right leg from the bottom of the bike shorts down was almost hairless. Left leg here I come. At least I didn’t have to wax my bikini line.
April 20, 2004
8:47 a.m. – I exhumed my yoga mat from the basement and packed it into my tote bag along with the recommended one litre of water and a towel. And I was off.
9:07 a.m. – The web page said to arrive 15 minutes early. Being extremely anal, I loved the encouragement to arrive sooner rather than later. As I entered the building the heat embraced me like an over zealous boyfriend. I removed my shoes as the posted sign instructed and I was met by a wall of hot humid air. I hate hot humid air; what was I crazy? The room was heated to 40 C. with about 60% humidity. It felt like August in Toronto which any sane person knows is not good. The form said that the hottest place was in the middle of the room and that all beginners should avoid this area; they didn’t get an argument out of me. Tiptoeing past eleven brave souls, I finally decided on the left back corner by the window. I figure if it got really hot I could always make a break for it. I checked out the crowd. They were all ages, shapes and sizes and they all seemed very serene. I didn’t think I’d ever been serene. I did remember being calm a couple of times but that may have been alcohol induced.
9:30 a.m. – The serene desk woman turned out to be our instructor. She called out the names of the three new participants and told us not to push ourselves, sit if we needed to, and not to drink any water during a pose. I figured I’d be okay. I’m very flexible and I don’t like drinking too much water while I’m exercising anyway. This was going to be fine. I got a tiny hit of a queasy tummy. Was it nerves?
9:45 a.m. – Bending over my legs I realize I’d missed waxing several spots. No one seemed to have noticed. Survival in the tropics appears to make you less vain.
10:30 a.m. – We were lying on our stomachs holding our feet and pulling them up towards the ceiling. The woman two mats in front of me was twisted into a horseshoe shape a la Cirque de Soleil. I grabbed my feet and pulled, but my hands slide off them.
10:49 a.m. ish? – They really should have called this Hot Sweaty Yoga. But from a marketing standpoint, calling it Bikram after it’s founder, does have a better ring to it. The sweat was pouring off my head and running down my body leaving a moat around my mat. The last time I sweated this much I was giving birth to my son. I would have killed for an ice chip. The second wave of nausea washed over me.
10:55 a.m. – Losing track of the real world. There was a sense of respect for each member of the class without any sense of competition or judgement. Even the really hairy guy five mats over wearing a flesh coloured bathing suit seemed to fit in. The instructor kept wandering through the class giving instruction. She came over to me, just as I was planning out my will, and told me I’m doing awesome! Great trick. I hung in there for three more seconds before my leg slipped out of my hand. She told us all to take a drink. Thank you Lord for listening.
11:00 a.m. something? – In the Fires of Hell. You could have poached an egg on my head right about then. For the amount of sweat that was being exorcized in this room, no one smelled. Remarkable. The belief is all this perspiring will detoxify your body. I think I may have passed my liver.
11:25 a.m. – Driving home, I realized that I was doing the speed limit – a personal first. My clothes were a soaked mess, my hair was covered in curls, my face the colour of a really ripe red pepper and I felt serene. Could it have really been the heat? The sweating? The fact I’d burned about 350 calories? I felt like throwing up three times, but I went back the next day.
Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures that are preformed in a room heated to 40 C. This style of Hatha Yoga is believed to increase strength, balance, flexibility, and mental focus as well as promoting deep relaxation and cleansing of unhealthy toxins in the body.
To find a class try the Yellow Pages under Yoga or try the Internet.
Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Bikram Yoga may not be advisable if you are pregnant.
Notes about the picture: I have practiced yoga for years and wherever I go I have a picture taken of me in a yoga pose.