Goal #2: Take classes in something I have never tried before.
Hell. A dictionary definition: "In Christianity and Islam, Hell is traditionally depicted as fiery and painful, inflicting guilt and suffering."
Dozens of smelly sweating people are tightly crammed into a very small space. Their bodies are slowly being contorted into various inhuman positions. The air is stifling hot and there is absolutely no prospect of a cool breeze or water.
THIS IS MY IDEA OF HELL.
Welcome to Bikram Yoga.
I am an ex-soccer player, for God's sweet sake. My idea of a good workout is a hard run, some hefty ab work outs, and a gosh dang cable weight machine; not a yoga instructor in skin tight Spanks explaining why deep breathing will introduce me to a deeper level of myself. So, why did I go to a Bikram (heated) yoga class? Mostly to say that I had. You can not truly say you are a fit American if you have not attended yoga or some other off-shooting branch of the discipline. I’m claiming to be a fit American and so it was necessary.
These classes are offered everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Apparently this form of yoga is extremely popular. I myself have several friends who swear by it and who go every week. I'm not sure exactly what the implications are of having friends who regularly subject themselves to hell, but I'm sure a therapist will draw it out somewhere down the line.
In any case, now I have experienced this phenomena. The studio was very modern, exactly what I would expect from this "new age" yoga type. I hadn't made it twelve feet into the studio and I knew I was in trouble. I decided to sport long yoga pants and a tank top, my usual apparel for yoga. However, the regulars to this studio were wearing far less, and it was making me nervous. As the gentle creature at the desk took down my information I smiled politely and took in the horror of little booty shorts, tiny sport bras, and what I believe to be a "yoga" speedo. I smiled politely and took my rented mat, silently wondering what booty short clad yoga master had used the mat before me.
In light of this, my first piece of advice when attending a Bikram Yogo class- WEAR AS LITTLE AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS WEARING! You will thank me for this when the room temperature is hovering around 106 and you don't look nearly as uncomfortable as the dweeb in the corner who decided to wear long yoga pants and a tank top. (I'm helping you look cool here regardless of whether or not you know what you're doing, which leads me to my next point...)
Aside from booty shorts and sports bras, the crazy individuals who regularly attend these sessions sported the necessary Bikram yoga accesories; a yoga mat, a towel, and a very large bottle of water.
My second bit of advice- HAVE ALL THESE THINGS. OTHERWISE YOU WILL BE VERY UPSET WITH YOURSELF HALFWAY THROUGH THE CLASS WHEN YOU'RE SWEATING EVERY OUNCE OF MOISTURE OUT OF YOUR BODY.
As the classes progresses through sun salutation and downward dog, you will start to think you're going to pass out. This will occur mostly because it's hot as a Hades and also because they will continue to tell you, "Now, if you feel like you're going to pass out..."
My third bit of advice- TAKE IT EASY. NOBODY WANTS TO BE THE NEWBIE WHO FAINTS. THINK OF IT AS A WATERING HOLE PEOPLE; THE WATERBISON THAT FALLS IS THE WATERBISON THAT GETS EATEN. KEEP THAT IN MIND. EVERYONE IN THAT ROOM IS SWEATING, SO EVERYONE'S HUNGRY...
You will want to keep pace with the yoga demons on all sides of you, but do not do this-- you will wish for death (or you will puke), and neither will improve your opinion of this exercise regimen.
This next point is an especially important one, so pay attention; the instructors are vigilant in their regulation of your water intake, and some will not allow you to drink water unless it is "in between posed." I'm sure they have a valid reason to enforce this policy; however, my suggestion on this particular point, is simply to wait until they turn their back. Don't drink too much though, or they will know. Because you will puke. Take it at your own pace. You won't die, but you may have to sit down from time to time.
All joking aside, I can safely say that I have never been so challenged mentally in my life. It took every ounce of my mental strength to try the poses and complete the class without trying to flee. At the end, having bathed for a full hour and a half in my own sweat and clearly likening my experience to a jaunt through the fourth ring of hell, I can say I have completed a Bikram yoga class. I have never felt more outwardly filthy or more inwardly cleansed, and as I returned my rented mat I had never felt more proud. Leaving after the class, I vowed to subject myself to it again. When? I don't know. But we all know, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Your Wicked Workout Partner,