Posted by: martinworster | July 31, 2011

123. BIKRAM YOGA

No pain no gain..

So I surf, eat muesli for breakfast, meditate, enjoy wheatgrass and acai smoothies, work out, drink Bud Lite out of a can with one of those foam insulating surrounds to keep it cool – and now I have tried Bikram Yoga. I am now perhaps more native than a Californian born and raised here. If I take up American Football and start driving a pick up truck please someone administer me a healthy dose of arsenic.

Bikram Yoga was quite an endurance test. It’s basically 90 minutes of fairly intense stretches in a sauna. I’d bought a coupon from Groupon and had been putting it off for too long. I’d heard a few friends in London were doing it. I also saw, via Twitter, that drum n bass don and original bad boy Goldie was a keen adherent in London. In fact one of my friends in London had shared a changing room with Goldie AND Boy George after a session. That’s not a set up for a joke – and nothing happened in the showers afterwards.

The room was packed. Not much personal space – not helped by the intense heat making it feel closer. I quickly got used to the stale sweat stench. We started with some breathing exercises. Then we did stand up stretches. It was tough. In fact, at times almost tortuous – if Bush had used this as a techique at Abu Ghraib I think he’d have achieved excellent results. Of course it’s a mixture of beginners and advanced yogists – if the going gets too touch you can sit down and rest at any time. Which I did – frequently. In fact I had quite a few dizzy spells and felt unbalanced. The going got so tough I wanted to go. I observed the female yoga master at the front who looked like she could post herself through a letter box. After about 10 minutes an overweight guy in front of me vomited. Normally you are not allowed to leave the room but they made an exception for him. A good thing to avert an onslaught of spontaneous reactionary projectile vomiting by the rest of us.

After 5 minutes I was sweating like a rapist. After 10 minutes I was sweating like a serial rapist. In fact I have never sweated that much – it was flowing off me. I liked the teacher. She was quite school mastery – almost in the manner of a dominatrix. Oooh err missus. She was fluent in German and on some of the more aggressive exercises she barked the orders out in Deutchse. This definitely added a piquancy to the whole proceedings, especially considering I was basically imprisoned in a overheated room with 30 other sweating humans.

My heart was pounding. At times I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. The heat helps with circulation and joints. All that sweating must be a good detox – I could feel Friday nights beers flowing out of me. I think it’s also quite meditative in a perverse kind of way. It’s so hot you can’t really think about anything else. It also helps with mind control and focus. You’re there and you have to see it through, a test of will and endurance. I felt strangely elated when the time was up – the build up of tension all through the session and then the release as you leave into the cool air outside (even though it was an 85 degree sunny So Cal day). In fact I don’t think I’d be in such close quarters with so many euphoric and sweaty people since Labyrinth circa 91. The smell of sweat with a hint of puke added extra authenticity to this early rave parallel.

I will be back. Do this three times a week and you must surely feel top of the world, if a little sweat depleted.

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Responses

  1. Hey Martin,

    That is awesome that you stayed with it! The feelings you experienced are quite normal as a beginner. It’s important that you stay hydrated outside of the hot room. If you are taking a morning class, hydrate up the night before (or drink a good amount of water throughout the day the day before) and always re-hydrate after class, especially within the few hours that follow.

    And yes, if you are feeling overwhelmed on a posture, lay in Savasana. Savasana is the most anatomically correct physical position for letting the heart rate slow down. And try to avoid to wiping sweat off the face to cool off. Just let the body sweat – that is the natural cooling system. 🙂

    With practice, you will become more adjusted to the heat, and you can focus more of your attention on breathing, the asanas/postures, et cetera. Try not to worry about what you can or can’t do. Everyone goes into the hot room with a different story, a different body, what have you. Enjoy the process and have fun.

    -Jacob


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