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’m out of the loop. Always up for a challenge, I’m signing up.
April 19, 2004
11:30 p.m. – The dress code for women is bike shorts and a sports bra or tank top. I ransack my bedroom and finally unearth them from the back of the closet. I wriggle into the black lyrca and check myself out in the mirror. Two very hairy legs leer back at me. Where the heck is the leg waxing kit?
12:45 a.m. – Waxing kit found. My right leg from the bottom of the bike shorts down is almost hairless. Left leg here I come. At least I don’t have to wax my bikini line.
April 20, 2004
8:47 a.m. – Just 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. I’m off.
9:07 a.m. – The web page says to arrive 15 minutes early. Being extremely anal, I love the encouragement to arrive sooner rather than later. As I enter the building the heat embraces me like an over zealous boyfriend. I remove my shoes as the posted sign instructs and approach the desk. The serene woman manning the post asks me to read and sign the obligatory just in case you drop dead during our 90 – minute class release form. I sign, hand it back, get a brief tour and pay my $20.00 for an all you can take first week special.
9:22 a.m. – Entering the No Talking Allowed studio, I’m met by a wall of hot humid air. I hate hot humid air; what am I crazy? The room is heated to 40 C. with about 60% humidity. It feels like August in Toronto which any sane person knows is not good. The form said that the hottest place is in the middle of the room and that all beginners should avoid this area; they won’t get an argument out of me. Tiptoeing past eleven brave souls, I finally decide on the left back corner by the window. I figure if it gets really hot I could always make a break for it. I check out the crowd. They’re all ages, shapes and sizes and they all seem very serene as well. I don’t think I’ve ever been serene. I do remember being calm a couple of times but that may have been alcohol induced.
9:30 a.m. – The serene desk woman turns out to be our instructor. She calls out the names of the three new participants and tells us not to push ourselves, sit if we need to, and not drink any water during a pose. I figure I’ll be okay. I’m very flexible and I don’t like drinking too much water while I’m exercising anyway. This is going to be fine. I get a tiny hit of queasy tummy. Nerves?
9:45 a.m. – Bending over my legs I realize I’ve missed waxing several spots. No one seems to have noticed. Survival in the tropics appears to make you less vain.
10:30 a.m. – We are lying on our stomachs holding our feet and pulling them up towards the ceiling. The woman two mats in front of me is twisted into a horseshoe shape a la Cirque de Soleil. I grab my feet and pull, 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 is 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’d kill for an ice chip. The second wave of nausea washes over me.
10:55 a.m. – Losing track of the real world. There is 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 seems to fit in. The instructor keeps wandering through the class giving instruction. She comes over to me, just as I’m planning out my will, and tells me I’m doing awesome! Great trick. I hang in there for three more seconds before my leg slips out of my hand. She tells us all to take a drink. Thank you Lord for listening.
11:00 a.m. something? – In the Fires of Hell. You could poach an egg on my head right about now. For the amount of sweat that is being exorcized in this room, no one smells. Remarkable. The belief is all this perspiring will detoxify your body. I think I may have just passed my liver.
11:25 a.m. – Driving home, I realize that I am doing the speed limit – a personal first. My clothes are a soaked mess, my hair is covered in curls, my face is the colour of a really ripe red pepper and I feel serene. Could it have really been the heat? The sweating? The fact I just burned about 350 calories? I felt like throwing up three times, but I’m going back tomorrow.
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.