“Breathe out with a “Huh-Huh” sound on the sit-up,” the yoga instructor said as we all sweated profusely and tried not to pass out on the sit-up, but actually breathe. The guy in front of me continued to breathe out with a “SCHI-SCHI” sound anyway, as if the instructor had not just called out the thing that he was doing wrong. And then she proceeded to write down notes throughout the class as she gave us gentle reminders about the proper way to do each pose.
I tried not to laugh as I thought of what she might actually be writing… “Jack still keeps breathing the wrong way on the sit-up after being told 100 times.”… “Susie farts occasionally; don’t stand next to her for the whole class.” … “Mary shouldn’t wear that skimpy outfit; it’s just wrong.”
This scene occurred this winter, while I was dealing with an injured foot and trying not to totally get out of shape in the off-season. I had decided to really try Bikram yoga. This is the extremely hot yoga (~105 degrees F) that burns a lot of calories and can totally kick your butt.
Before I talk about how things went for me in the Bikram yoga studio, I have to tell you that – if you have never tried it, you are probably going to:
a) Love it
b) Hate it
c) Find that, even if you love it, it doesn’t care for you so much.
Why? Because it is extreme. So, your reaction to it is likely to be extreme as well.
Why might you love it? Because the heat really allows your muscles to stretch. And if you are a triathlete, it feels like a hard workout that your worked-out body can really use. It’s an admirable accomplishment to make it through each class. And, I’ve always noticed that my eyes look clearer and my skin looks refreshed after a class.
Why might you hate it? Well, first of all, try as they may to mask it with fragrant candles and clean the heck out of the place, it smells like a sweaty locker room. If you get that many people sweating for 90 minutes multiple times a day in one room, it’s just gonna stink. Some people just can’t handle the stink.
Secondly, there’s no peaceful music playing in the background. The instructors are generally nice, but they don’t want to put you to sleep with their soothing voices. No, they want you to listen and think about what you are doing and try to do everything to the best degree possible. This is a serious yoga class, not so much a relax-and-feel-the-zen yoga class.
Anyway, like I said, I was trying to really get into this Bikram yoga thing. I imagined myself becoming an amazing Bikram yogi who went to class often, could do all the really advanced poses, and still was able to fit all kinds of triathlon training into my schedule. To start out, I intended to go at least twice a week. And, I was sort of doing that for a while. But even though I was getting better at it, I kept doing something to myself… pulling this, over-stretching that. I had weird-pinched-nerve things going on that even disrupted my sleep. Sheesh. Apparently, Bikram doesn’t like me as much as I like it.
So, for now, I have stopped going… These little injuries just kept preventing me from getting on with it in the training department. I may go here and there again, because it really does stretch you out. But I can’t handle it twice a week. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. Why don’t you like me, Bikram? Anyway, after my main racing season is over, I hope I can try my Bikram experiment again. I will be very careful, and maybe it will like me better next time.