Bikram’s Yoga: A Review

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To get my Yoga Teacher Trainer Certificate, I have to go take all sorts of different yoga classes. This is the first post in a series I’m writing where I will be attending tons of different yoga schools and blogging about the experience.

Oxford Dictionary definition: A type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to a very high temperature.

My definition: a series of 26 postures, performed twice in sweltering heat with 90% humidity for 90 minutes. That basically means that when you finish one set and you’re like, holy crap I’m so glad I didn’t just die in that pose, the instructor is like “Second set!” And you’re like, fml.

The instructor: The most evil person I’ve ever met. “Suck in your stomach!” (WTF is that supposed to mean??!) “Push back!” (Stop yelling at me!) “Go back!” (This is as far as I go woman!) “Breathe!” (Then stop telling me to go back farther!) However, she also had the power of the fan. When she used it, she was an angel.

The most worked body part: Toes. Definitely toes. And also legs, calves and thighs. Oh, and also entire back, arms, shoulders and neck. But mostly toes.

The core workout: “Double breath crunch-ups” may or may not count as core.

Favorite pose: shavasana. Okay, maybe bow pose. That one’s fun usually, but it was so freaking hot I couldn’t get a dry grip on my feet, meaning one leg was all higher than the other. I like tree pose too, especially in Bikram’s because you feel so grounded at that point you can stand on one foot for probably ever. But seriously, shavasana.

Least favorite pose: Standing forehead to knee pose. Seriously, my toes cramped up in a way I’ve never felt before. And doing it twice? Is that really necessary? It isn’t. Let me tell ya.

The biggest take-away from class: You can find shavasana in every pose, and you’re expected to. In between each “set” you stand at your mat with feet together and hands out by your side, palms forward. This is standing shavasana. You’re supposed to find it at the peak of each posture, and in those in between times, maximizing control over both your body and mind.

The biggest thinking point from class: It is really hard to find shavasana in every pose. Those moments started out wonderful, but towards the end of class, I just wanted to fidget. I wanted to move in any way I could, whether it be throw my head back or drop down and touch my toes, as if moving could protect me from the heat. It was easier to stress out in shavasana than relax. I’m not even kidding. I was full on stressed, especially when I saw the bug (see “biggest distraction” below).

Best part of class: You start standing on your feet and the rest of class is spent on the mat. AKA right when you’re about to die, you get to lie down.

Worst part of class: The sun that decided to creep it’s way to my section of the room around 45 minutes in. Talk about panic. When I realized that I also had sun on me, I was seriously thinking I wasn’t going to make it.

Most interesting sensation(s): My face went numb sometime after camel pose. I heard that’s what having a stroke feels like. I did not like that feeling.

Biggest distraction: The dead bug that’s body was melting (yes, melting) 4 inches from my mat. I found him about halfway through class. At first, I thought it was a fuzz. I was happy with it being a fuzz. Then, when I reached down to touch my toes, I realized that my fuzz had six tiny little legs coming off of it. It was a light brown color and laying on it’s back. That’s not the worst part. It’s skin was full on melted around it. I could see literally bug-skin away from bug-bone on it’s right side. I almost threw up, but I held it in because you can’t just puke in hot yoga. That would be rude.

Biggest challenge: Staying present in the heat, and trying not to focus on the fact that there was a woman three times my size doing things I can’t even do in my greatest Instagram dream. She comes here often, probably.

Biggest breakthrough/realization: That if you seriously only focus on breath, like seriously make it your no-more-games mission to ONLY think about your breath, the poses aren’t that bad, even in the heat. You sort of forget you’re in the pose, because every time you think about the discomfort, you aren’t thinking about your breath, so forcing yourself to only concentrate on that really is the only way to go.

What I looked like after class: (ignore the horrible iPhone graininess)

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No. I did not take a shower before taking this picture. That, my friends, is sweat. Or, to talk like that yoga instructor: “toxins.” Wet, steamy toxins just dripping from my hair. Yes, I was grossed out too.

All in all, I like Bikram’s Yoga. With the exception of the bug incident, I had a great time. I left feeling more energetic, lighter and happier than I was going in.

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