My Return to Bikram Yoga

Many moons ago, a friend of mine had convinced me to attend a yoga class with her. It was my first time ever, and when I walked into the supremely hot room I realized I was in for something that would change the way I looked at fitness. I had never even heard of Bikram, or “hot” yoga, either. The movements were foreign to me, as was the copious amounts of sweat that dripped off my body while attempting to do an eagle pose or standing head to knee.

eagle pose
head to knee pose

I remember leaving that class on a cold winter day with steam lifting off of me. I felt rejuvenated, and full of energy as I trudged through snow to get into my friend’s car. I probably would have kept going regularly, had I not been a single, early 20’s gal living paycheck to paycheck at that time.

Fast forward to last night. My running buddy invited me to her hot yoga class, and I was a little nervous. Yes, I remembered all the good feelings I’d had roughly 10 years prior, but a lot has changed over the last decade for me, physically. Would I be able to stand on one leg and extend the other one straight out in front of me? I mean, I trip over my own feet in normal situations. Could I bend and stretch my way into various poses and not feel it the next day? As much as I love running, it’s made me a lot more tighter in the muscles than I’ve ever been before. I had a lot of questions, but once I met the instructor those all melted away.

Strangely enough, the instructor had taught at my first ever yoga class. I did not remember her name, but I never forget a face. She hadn’t aged at all, and looked exactly the same as she did years ago. I had asked her about the facility I attended so long ago, and whether she’d ever taught there, and she looked as though she had seen a long lost friend! We were quickly reminiscing. She said she had been so incredibly nervous and scared at that class, since she’d never instructed before, and I told her how I loved hot yoga after attending that day.

On to the class; I borrowed one of her yoga mats and placed my towel over it, lying down with my friend next to me on her own mat. There weren’t many people in attendance, roughly 12 of various ages and sizes. It’s something I’ve always appreciated about yoga. It truly is for everyone. The instructor sat down to talk a little about what we’d be up against over the next hour, and then we were off and running. My chest was already flushed from the 105 degree heat, the standard temperature for Bikram. Some of the other movements:

standing stick pose
tree pose
toe stand

The toe stand pose really threw me for a loop. You have to balance on your foot, which looks easy in the picture above, but is difficult. You start off by doing a tree pose, and then lower yourself to the floor by way of your one leg. At one point, you fall forward, catching yourself with your hands, and then sitting back onto your foot. I could not do this one last night, although I kept trying (and falling).

locust pose

My friend rocked this pose yesterday. I had no idea she was so flexible, and then she lifted up as high as the picture above! Needless to say, this was not me. I could barely lift my legs up, but that’s OK. Something to works towards, right?

There were moments I could see beads of sweat roll off me and onto my towel. It was insanely hot. The instructor had to help me out a few times, and I was constantly checking my posture or centering my body. This was all doable though. It felt amazing and I continued to feel that way after the class. I wasn’t tired, or sore. I was full of energy, a completely different feeling than one of my boot camp classes, or when I run double digit miles. It’s not as though these movements aren’t a work out. The instructor is very lean and toned, and all she does is yoga. It seems there truly is an amazing balance between these techniques, and the heat. It gets you limber, you can perform deeper stretches, while reducing stress and tension.

Also, it seems to be a much more affordable class. Granted, I had a lot of top ramen and mac & cheese days to contend with when I was younger, yet now there seem to be a lot more affordable options available to you, should you want to purchase packages or try out the sessions on a newbie basis (I was offered unlimited classes in the next 20 days, for $20.)  I already feel a difference in my body after just attending the one class!

I will be back. Definitely. Check out the yoga studio:


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