In January Pina and I had hoped to bring back our monthly adventures, but unfortunately snow storms, flu bugs and the likes way laid our plans. As February quickly rolled by, last week after a lot of sitting at my computer I made an impromptu decision to take a break and “adventure” on my own and head to a lunchtime Bikram Yoga class, which was one of the things in our list. You know, the HOT kind of yoga. (Incidentally, by way of explanation all Bikram yoga is hot, but not all hot yoga is Bikram.)
The studio’s website claims that “A regular practice at Bikram Yoga Norwalk Connecticut strengthens the immune system, improves posture and spinal alignment, strengthens joints, eases back pain, tones muscles, builds strength, stamina, and flexibility and relieves stress and tension.”
Yep, I’ll take some of that!
The studio temp is kept between 102-107 degrees and between 40% and 60% humidity. Apparently these levels are recommended by ‘ol Bikram himself. And don’t even dare utter the words ‘dry heat’! They certainly honored truth in advertising, it was HOT.
By the end of the class, aside from looking like a drowned rat, I was reminded of some very valuable lessons.
Keep an open mind – While I’ve wanted to try Bikram Yoga for awhile, I was fairly sure I wouldn’t like it. I enjoy yoga, have practiced it on and off for years, and even taught it a bit. Hot Yoga just did not sound appealing to me. I’d heard reports of people feeling like they were going to pass out (fun times) and left nauseous, and well, you know what often follows nausea. No thank you. But yet I was curious, and both the fitness instructor and adventurer within me was still compelled to give it a whirl.
Turns out I really liked it. In fact, I’ve been four times in the last week. Go figure! It was a good reminder to me to stay open minded.
Don’t assume – Bikram yoga is very specific. Even though I’m familiar with yoga, I was unsure what was coming next in this class and what the protocol was. When I heard the instructor announce that Tree Pose was next, I immediately though ha, I got this! Tree happens to be one of my favorite poses, so I popped right into it, only to see the instructor shaking his head. Nope, not how they do Tree at Bikram. When you’re trying something new, don’t assume. Listen and learn.
Focus is powerful – I was amazed (and envious) at the amount of focus these yogis had. Even though I’ve always exercised a lot, I cant say I’ve ever had a workout that required me to be so completely tuned into my body before. You truly need to leave everything at the door and be completely present.
Repetition yields results – I was also skeptical about the class because I know that the format involves 26 postures performed in a specific order. Each pose is performed twice (except for the last pose) and it is the same at every class. My initial reaction to that was that I would quickly be bored. I like variety. However, after four classes I realized that there is beauty in repetition, and it allows your body to move deeper and with greater understanding. By my fourth class, rather than bored, I was determined, focused, AND making progress.
Honor the message – With that focus, came more clarity on what my body really needs right now. I’ve been preaching the mantra “listen to your body” for years, but haven’t always done a good job of heeding it myself. After the workout I realized that this is what my body needs right now. After essentially five surgeries in 18 months I was left with limited range of motion, tons of scar tissues and severe tightness. The heat, coupled with the repetitive postures was exactly what I needed. I doubt it will ever become my favorite workout, and I’m not even sure if I’ll continue after a month or two, but I realized I have to honor the message my body was giving me.
I will definitely be back and I look forward to the new lessons that will unfold.
Now, if I could just get used to the smell.