I imagined practicing yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees would be pretty miserable, and I was absolutely, 100 percent correct. Imagine getting into your car on a hot day. You know, that sort of sweltering suffocation? Now, perform various stretching routines in that car for 90 minutes.
ALL OF THAT.
Now, with all of that said, I don't mean to entirely poo-poo on Bikram Yoga. It's pretty awesome, if you can stand the heat. It felt amazing to stretch in all those ways I wasn't sure possible. My body needed it. I think if I could adapt to the oppressive heat, it's something I could completely latch onto. But first, some observations about my first time (heh):
Goddamn, did I sweat. It's no secret that I sweat like a beast during a workout. Always. It's really rather gross. I do not glow. I pour. I've been known to actually wring my shorts out after a run in the recent heat. But this was ridiculous. From the moment we walked into the yoga studio, sweat began to bead up on my arms and legs. As I looked around the room mid-class, I could watch the sweat pour from peoples' limbs. Even when I took a few (OK, a lot of) breathers, and laid still on my mat, I could not stop the sweat from pouring. Sweat actually soaked through my towel, through my yoga mat and into the floor, which was carpeted, by the way. More on that later. Afterwards, when Annie, Rochelle and I sat on a bench in the lobby to cool off and rehydrate, we left an actual puddle of sweat on the floor beneath us.
The smell. From the moment we opened the doors to the lobby, we were hit with an overwhelming smell of feet. Just plain, old feet. The lobby, of course, was stacked with shoes, as we were all instructed to remove them immediately upon entering, so it makes sense. But nothing compares to the smell of the actual yoga studio. Sweat. Feet. Breath. Hot. All wrapped up into one 90-minute stench. The studio was carpeted, which sort of blew my mind. It's filled with people pouring sweat all day long, soaking into the carpet. It's no wonder it reeked so bad. I suppose that's better (safer?) than filling the room with puddles of sweat all day. But. Still. I gag.
The heat is something I don't know if I'll get used to. It'll be my one downfall if I try Bikram again. I thought to myself, over and over, actually, that I have an easier time running a marathon than I did handling the heat in that room for 90 minutes. We were told if we started to feel dizzy or just needed a break, to lay on our backs on the mat. Don't leave the room, they said, for you could pass out. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time flat on my back. But even then, the heat is suffocating. I laid there waiting for relief to come -- a breeze, fresh air, anything -- and it does not come. Closing your eyes makes it worse because then you're simply suffocating in the dark. More than once I had to talk myself out of a panic attack and realize I probably wasn't going to die, and in fact, the class WOULD end and I'd once again breathe fresh air. But there were moments when I wasn't entirely convinced.
I'm glad I took the class. Even though it was harder (and hotter) than Hell, I felt good afterward. It felt great to sweat and stretch and drink water and momentarily suffocate in a smelly room. (No really, I swear it did). I definitely want to find a studio in Madison and try the class again. I think my body would appreciate the change of pace. Although, with the heat we've been having, I can pretty much lay a mat outside in the parking lot and do my own Bikram yoga under the sun.
Knock this off the bucket list.