Surviving Bikram yoga: Day 1

I’m happy to report that I made it through my first Bikram yoga class!  I showed up 30 minutes early to turn in my paperwork and to get the lay of the land at the studio.  I wasn’t sure what to expect since it seems like every yoga studio is different.

I met with the instructor and he asked me some pretty standard questions about my history with yoga, hot yoga, and my water intake.  He didn’t believe me when I told him that I drink over 100 ounces of water every day.  I guess that is a problem- people get really dehydrated and that’s why they have such a hard time in the classes.  I assured him that my only difficulties in class would be due to my weak legs!

I was glad to arrive early, because they open the studio 30 minutes before class so people can set up.   I quietly visited with some nice ladies who also arrived early.  They gave me some tips on Bikram yoga:

1) No leaving the class for any reason.  If you are going to pass out, sit down or lay down.

2) No drinking water until you are given permission after a certain pose.  After that, you can drink water but only in between poses.

Seemed fair enough.

The studio was dimly lit, which I’m used to.  There is a stage at the front where the instructor goes through the dialog (more on that in a second) and lines on the floor, creating three rows.  I lined up in the back by the door, juuuuuust in case I really did throw up or something.  At least if I passed out they wouldn’t have to carry me too far.

The room was warm, but not too hot.  It felt a little more humid than my other studio.  The floor is sort of cool too.  My other studio has a plastic woven floor.  This studio has a suedish antimicrobial carpet sort of floor.  I was surprised it really didn’t smell.

I spent some time in down dogs and stretching.  Others just laid on their mats.

Then, the lights went on.  FULL ON.

Class was beginning!  The instructor explained that we would be going through each pose twice, rather than going through the entire sequence and then starting over.  That way, it allows you to try it out the first time and really go for it the second time.  Makes sense.

Some things I noticed that were different with Bikram yoga:

1) Full on lights.  This is an energetic class.

2)  The instructor does not do any poses.  It’s a constant dialogue and corrections to participants.  I liked that he was paying attention to everyone in the room and his constant dialogue kept my attention.

3) My heart rate was up much higher, much faster than other hot yoga.  I also sweat a lot faster.  I think it was the poses being a little more energetic and less relaxing.

I made it through about 4 poses and then I really started feeling like I was going to pass out or throw up.  Oh no!  I can’t hack up in my first class!  I immediately sat on my mat and reminded myself to breathe.  No wonder people say don’t eat anything 3 hours before class.  Good thing I didn’t!  I sipped some water, calmed my ass down, and rejoined the class.

The instructor reminded us throughout to breathe.  I have never worked so hard in my life. I would love to see Cori try this out.  It’s not your zen-like yoga.  No namaste here.

The first half of the class is standing and the second class are the floor poses.  With the floor poses, you get to lay on your back for 20 seconds in between each pose to catch your breath and let your blood flow (because many are constricting poses).  But there is no rest for the weary, and no eyes closed when laying on the floor.  Like I said, this is an energetic class.  The instructor called it “active meditation”.

Throughout the class, I took to the mat to sit and refocus.  Many others did the same.  It seemed pretty normal. I was happily surprised when the instructor came back to open the door to let in some cold air at the end since he could see we were working so hard.

I’m not sure how hot the room was, maybe 105 degrees?  I was so proud of myself when the class finished!  He gave us all cold lavender towels and I made sure to sit still before I left the room.  The studio has showers and a changing area, but I just gathered my stuff up and sat up front with others as they drank water and chatted.  I liked that the instructor was available out front to ask questions.  One cool thing about the studio is that they lock the door to the main entrance during class.  You can’t be late and there are no interruptions!

By the time I got home, I was drenched.  My clothes were like a wet swimsuit.  I’ve never sweated so much in class.  I hopped in the shower and was so grateful for soap. I was surprised to feel very energetic when I got home, even through it was almost 9pm.  I had a little food and hung out in the livingroom.

This morning, I woke up 30 minute before my alarm went off.  I was WIDE AWAKE!  I have read that this is common with people who practice Bikram, but I didn’t expect to have that happen right away. I feel totally rested, not sore anywhere, and happy.

My skin is so soft too.  When I got out of the shower, I applied some argon oil to my face and my skin looks AMAZING today.  And, I lost 2 pounds overnight.

I’m going back tonight for the 7pm class.  I’ve heard that it’s really important to go back the next day after your first class.  I plan to go again Friday and Saturday too.

Stay tuned for my next report!

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