Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mission Yoga Take Two: Where are the Cowboy Hats? (Guest Post)

Today's post is a contrasting opinion from a Bikram newbie, Ms. Stephanie, Guest Poster and Birthday Princess (pictured above).

So, I lost a bet.  That was how I found my way into a sweaty, humid, sauna smelling, 105 degree Bikram yoga studio.  Danielle has been preaching to me and fellow naysayers for over a year about the wonderful world of Bikram, her new flexibility, how she almost locked her knees yesterday, her discovery of a whole new spiritual awakening. The cynic in me rolled my eyes, but I was happy for her.

My yoga history included just a few weird yoga stretches with straps and some ill formed downward facing dogs at my local Y yoga classes. But one fateful day I promised Danielle that if she succeeded at being my Cyrano de Bergerac, and her carefully worded ghostwritten email got me a date with a certain young man, then I WOULD go to a Bikram class with her.  Ultimately, she worked her magic and I had a bet to own up to. We finally synched up our busy schedules to fit a Jessica class in because Danielle said she’s perfect for the first time Bikram yoga going person such as myself (as well as Danielle’s favorite teacher).

The big day rolled around and the entire day I fluctuated between excitement and terror.  I continuously looked through Lululemon attire to find yogic inspiration, and it kept me motivated until I had to get back to work. Finally, time had come to head to the studio.

The moment I walked into Mission Yoga, I felt a wave of nostalgia roll over me.  I was back in my Southern Arizona hometown, with the Mexican carpets draped over the windows and the intense heat swirling around me.  If there were a cactus and some red dirt, I would have thought we walked into a Tucson restaurant - except that everyone here was wearing swimsuits instead of cowboy hats!

Before class, as we changed in the locker room, I began to get more nervous.  I was anxious for the unknown battle between heat, sweat (which is disgusting) and determination.  I kept telling myself I was going to get through a Bikram yoga class even if that meant I had to just sit there the whole time.

I entered the hot, smelly yoga studio and…it’s not that bad at all!  Actually, I was happy as a clam and quite comfortable - until Danielle mentioned that the heat isn’t on yet, and I deflated like a balloon.  By the way, for all the people who want to try Bikram yoga, I HIGHLY recommend going with someone with experience.  Danielle knew to make sure I drank plenty of water in advance, stop eating two hours before class, and placed me next to the window for better air ventilation.  Her knowledge made all the difference.  

The class began. Jessica started instructing us to breathe, something about flapping our arms, releasing the air in our lungs… I tried to keep up, but the entire time we were doing the sequence I felt like I was in the Funky Chicken Dance.  I just went with it.  We seamlessly went into the other 20+ poses, some I was able to do and others I just didn’t even attempt. I lack flexibility in my hips, so some stances were just plain uncomfortable, but I knew my limits and I did what Jessica said, and tried my best.

Then the heat hit. Some previous Bikram yoga doers had told me I would feel like I wanted to die in my first class but just to stick with it.  Well, I didn’t want to die, and I stuck with it, but I did have my moments of pure fear.  Being from Arizona and used to 100+ degree heat, you think I could take it.  What I was not prepared for was the humidity and all the extra bodies in the room.   That really took a toll and gave me the sensation of suffocation.  Although you are not suffocating, the lack of air and oxygen going into your lungs will kinda freak you out. But as they say, just stick with it.

The time finally winds down and the hour and a half class comes to end. It took a while, I thought the class would never end, but it did.  There is a brief moment to mediate which I was not feeling, but I stayed still for a few minutes and proceeded to head to the door with another yoga class down.

The next day I was not really sore and felt like I had a lot of energy.  I would consider doing another Bikram class, but I feel I still have so many others to try first.  If you take anything away from this post, at least TRY Bikram, go with an experienced Bikram yoga person and take a Jessica class.  I encourage all of you take on the Bikram yoga battle and push yourself, you won’t regret it.  Until the next yoga adventure….

P.S.  And I didn’t have to sit out once!

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