Bikram Yoga – are you crazy?!

When faced with the prospect of getting all hot and sweaty in a room full of people, I generally can’t say no fast enough. How embarrassing to be worked-up so much to get that sweat trail lining the crack of your fancy gym pants, your hair getting all sweaty which you’ll then just have to wash (again!) and then there’s that little bit of tummy roll hanging ever so slightly over the top of those expensive pants. And you can’t stop staring at it in the full-wall length mirror they so kindly have in the studio. Which then gets you thinking “hmm I really should buy a new pair of pants since I’ve gained a few kilos”. But I won’t because a) I am delusional to think that I’ll ever be able to wear them with dignity even though I clearly am not pulling it off, and b) because I’ve never given two hoots about what I wear when exercising as this is a rare occasion so I generally buy a piece of gym gear every two years.

But *sigh* along comes this awesome new trend that every girl and her kitten are trying and by gosh it’s fabulous! Yes Jessie you should so give it a go! It will do wonders for your sleeping habits! Oh your muscles will feel amazing afterwards!…. Really? I’ve never felt “amazing” after a workout (unless the warm up included vodka shots and the cool down included shoving a guy out the front door before he realises you don’t know his name). But I decided to push myself for one of these sessions and give it a whirl. And so begins the class of hell, literally as it’s like a furnace in the room from the get go.

I am talking about Bikram Yoga. Yes, we’ve all done yoga at the local gym/community centre/self guided videos that you can pause at any time and never start again. Yoga is all about finding the strength within yourself, gaining flexibility, revitalising your body and mind. Awesome! Fantastic! I need some self love, let me in! But wait, there’s one added element to Bikram Yoga to make it just that little bit better: heat. And lots of it.

Now, I don’t know about you but I tend to sweat at the coldest of times, let alone in an exercise class. And a class that’s heated? Crap, this is definitely not a place where I’m going to find my next boyfriend. So off I trot to the studios not far from my place (walk there you say? Pfft I’m already doing one exercise thing tonight, let’s not push it) and as soon as you walk up the stairs you can feel the heat. The reception area is toasty and warm, nice for a cold Melbourne night, but if it’s like this in here I can only imagine what it’s like in the studio. I’m expecting Satan himself to be teaching the class.

As the class begins (after I’m moved to the middle of the room due to being a newbie) I realise that I am stuck here with these people for the next 90 minutes…Lord help me. Already my face is red and I look at myself in the mirror and think “why did you wear the pants with the bleach stains?” And “what is that mark on my top?” leaving myself feeling even more self conscious than ever being around a stack of skinny chicks wearing shorts and crop tops. A crop top? I think the last time I wore one of those I was about twelve and just getting boobs…now it’s a heavy duty sensible sports bra that could possibly pass as a slingshot.

The session is going along quite nicely, apart from the sweat dripping into my eyes, and I’m starting to think it’s not so bad. And then just after the half way mark, BAM! I hit a wall and I’m about to either throw up or pass out. Or maybe both but, before I do, I take the option to lie down through the next set…and the one after that. Laying there I could feel my heart racing a hundred miles an hour and the sheer burn of mascara in my eyes. Damn it why didn’t I take that makeup off!?  As the teacher walks through the class, dripping sweat on our unsuspecting bodies, she kindly informs me that using my hand towel to wipe the sweat off my face is just going to make me sweat even more. Shit lady I’m pretty sure that’s bound to happen anyway so give me a frickin break! I’m about to choke on my own sweat and she’s banging on about too much towel usage.

So to take my attention away from the sweatiness, I get up and give it another go. And not feeling too bad. Slowly working through the poses I am feeling slightly better. Until I hear something like a steady stream of water… Has someone lost control of their bladder?  Nope, just the guy in front of me sweating so much it’s dripping onto his mat and splashing away. Note to all Bikram Yoga goers: USE A TOWEL ON TOP OF YOUR MAT. The guy catches me staring and gives me a look as if to say “what, like your pants aren’t filling up with sticky sweat?” Yes, they sure are mate but at least my mat isn’t covered so much with sweat I could almost go for a swim. And apparently clothes are optional in these classes. Whilst the skinny girls are wearing crop tops and shorts, the guys are pretty much naked. And not in a good way. I’m pretty sure wearing just your undies in public is frowned upon these days, but there they are with their hairy chests and tight boy leg shorts, clinging to their bums for dear life. Not a good look, fellas.

And just like that it’s over. You lie down after it all and regain your breath whilst realising that after all that you don’t feel too bad. Your joints are feeling all good. That little pain in the hip seems to have moved for the time being. I walk to the door, feeling proud of myself that I’ve done something new, totally out of my comfort zone…all the while ignoring the mirror that gives me a great view of the nice sweat mark down the crack of my fancy gym pants.

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