Sweat It Out
I never thought I would find myself sweating profusely while twisted in the position of a pretzel, but such was the case when I took a bikram yoga class for the first time. I was told that it would be good for my back and help me stretch out my tired, world-weary joints that feel, these days, like they belong to a 95-year-old. I also tried it because I love a good challenge—my friend had me at “holy crap, it was freaking impossible!”
For those of you that do not hang out with the earth-loving hippie crowd, bikram yoga is performed in a roughly 105 degree room. Classes last 90 minutes, basically without a break, where you go through a series of 26 yoga poses and breathing exercises.
I noticed quite a few interesting things during the class. For instance:
- Working out in 105 degrees is hard. This is even more difficult when you’re in a closed room, with a bunch of other sweating bodies, which creates an odor that smells vaguely like dying feet that have been left in a pile of rotting fish.
- We were told that some symptoms people suffer from during the class include dizziness and nausea, but that’s it’s “OK and totally normal.” Yup, sounds healthy.
- The instructor mentioned as soon as the class started that there were “no judgements.” This was initially difficult, as there was an older obese man in a Speedo, a Brooklyn bike cap, and glasses attached to a string in one corner and a woman who looked like she hadn’t eaten in a while because she had used all her savings to tattoo every square inch of her body in the other. But this judgment quickly ceased when I had a clear view in the mirror in front of the room of myself as I attempted to pull my leg over my head, bend forward, drip sweat, and breathe all at the same time. I am not graceful.
- I can attempt to meditate through deep breathing. I can not, however, do this when the instructor sings a song that he obviously wrote—perhaps in his mind with Lenny Kravitz—about how we should not let life get us down or worry about “the man.” Seriously. Really hard to concentrate.
- Apparently, I don’t know my left from right. I had to keep putting my “other right” hand behind my heel before contorting myself in ways that young ladies simply did not do in olden times. The instructor suggested when in doubt, the hand that shows a correct “L” is your left hand. I was not sure if this comment made me cry or perspire more through my face.
The good news is I survived. Jury is still out if I enjoyed it, though I certainly felt a sense of accomplishment in finishing. I was so excited I would have hugged some of the other folks that finished the class, but I think that if we had embraced our joint sweat would have forced us to slide right down each other onto the floor. Maybe I’ll give it another chance. I just hope that between now and the next time I go they invest in an air conditioner.