an encounter with bikram hot yoga.

for months my dear friend becca has been encouraging me to go with her to bikram yoga. she thinks it will help my body. she knows me and my chronic pain all to well.

after getting the orders from my naturpath to lay off lifting, climbing and body works classes and to stick to cardio and yoga, i finally relented and decided to meet up with her last week friday.  i must be honest. i was a bit scared. perhaps intimidated. definitely intrigued. i mean, i have a addictive personality. i love being active. and i hook onto activities like they’re my new best friend. but hot yoga was mind-boggling.

for one, i struggle with just my regular yoga classes offered at my gym. my mind wrestles with itself to calm down and focus and yet i have no idea what i’m supposed to be focusing on. couple that confusion with folks who willingly endure 105 degree heat in 40% humidity was baffling. but, hey no judgements here.

i must have been nervous because the night before, i researched the location, parking, and all the FAQs on the bikram yoga seattle’s website. i had my bag packed. my yoga mat rolled up and my water bottle in the fridge. i even triple checked to make sure i had a beach towel.  i was set. i arrived early to check in, get the ‘newbie’ chat, find out where the bathrooms were and get settled. i decided to head into the room early since i hadn’t seen my friend and folks were streaming in. i wanted a spot. but that decision turned into 10 minutes of second guessing said-spot. was it wrong to sit so close to the door? what about the front row? should i move? gosh, now it’s packed? where does the instructor sit? crap, i didn’t think about that….how am i going to see her?! well, at least if i feel faint i’m right next to the door, literally. oh dear. where’s becca?

i kid you not. those questions circled my head for 10 minutes while i attempted to calm down my stretching. also, i prayed i didn’t have to pee. i drank so much water that day in preparation i couldn’t tell if it was nerves or if i really needed to go. i had to tell myself to chill. i mean, it’s yoga for crying out loud. but from what i had gathered on the yoga blogs and websites, the first class is brutal. there’s symptoms that they tell you are normal. i don’t recall getting warned with symptoms when i started climbing. eh, i digress.

but the nervousness was for nothing. the instructor doesn’t do the poses like my regular yoga classes. she leads us through verbal instructions and is constantly keeping an eye on her class for the entire 90 minutes. praise God that i was next to folks who had been doing this for a while so i could watch them in the mirrors. and the instructor made it a point to check in on us on all our poses. i don’t think i have ever had that at my gym. ever.  that was a pleasant surprise. so was the heat and humidity. it made me focus. having mirrors in the front and side of me made be focus on my posture and pose. and going through 26 postures while repeating them twice was nice for a newbie like me to figure out what was going on. no noise. no one talking. it’s like music to my ears. in just two classes i’ve found that it is one of the few things that clear my mind besides running. and i didn’t get sick. i think becca’s advice about drinking ALOT of water helped. i felt great after class and immediately decided to go again on sunday!

the main challenge for me is being able to listen to my body during the postures. my naturpath warned me that the heat warms up my muscles and enables my body to bend in ways that are not typical on a daily basis for me. i have definitely felt some of that since my classes and decided to pose the question to Rachael, who dropped me an encouraging tweet after my first bikram session. she has a bikram yoga blog, alive in the fire, and was recently voted as one of the top 25 bikram yoga blogs. i must share that since i emailed her last night, i’ve received 4 emails from her with insight from her friends and contacts who are massage therapists and other yogis with suggestions and advice. she even posted response on her blogabout my questions.  insightful. helpful. and prompt.  i don’t even get that type of service from nordstrom. amazing. i love the yoga community even more.

so, i guess i survived my first few classes. actually that’s incorrect. i have been welcomed into the yoga community and am loving every minute of it.  now, i pray that my body warms up (literally and figuratively) to hot yoga. it would be amazing to continue to practice it.  i have a few follow up appts this week and this is at the top of the list to talk through with all my practictioners. i’ll be posting updates later this week with the final verdict.

whatever happes though, it’s been a warm welcome, even before i’ve stepped my first foot into the studio. and i can’t wait for my next session.

2 Comments

  1. So glad you toughed it out in the heat! And it sounds like you had a fantastic teacher — one that keeps a close eye on all the yogis and makes corrections. Good job hydrating before class! If you ever forget and need a quick fix, try coconut water (VitaCoco is the best) right before class. Helps so much! I generally drink one after class as well. 🙂

    -Rachel @ Alive in the Fire

  2. Way to go Jackie! I loved reading about this. I’m so glad you’ve found something that your body loves as much as your mind 🙂

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