I tried Bikram yoga for the first time. The one time I actually tried yoga I fumbled the steps and lost my balance. Oh, and I fell asleep during the meditation.
The story behind the story
In university, the student newspaper columnist tried to tie his weekly rants together with a theme: The first time I ever….
The concept was simple. In every column he was supposed to talk about the first time he ever did something.
I thought it was a great theme. And it was really fun to read about his weekly wacky adventures…at first.
When his motivation was strong he would go into the city and discover new things like male belly dancing and speed dating. Then he would report how hilariously awkward and/or embarassing it was for him. He’s also include a few key quotes from onlookers to pack a punch.
Not as easy to relate to.
However, right around midterms his column titles became things like (note the use of like, “The first time I ever slept in before a midterm and spilled coffee on my flatmate while kicking the neighbour’s cat.” And, “The first time I ever wrote a column after deadline.” These are not direct quotes. It’s not like I have the papers in front of me or anything.
But a great theme, nonetheless. In fact, every time I’ve thought about how to write about _____, his theme comes to mind.
Because, there is no other way to explain it.
The first time I ever…did Bikram yoga
A new co-worker had been working on me for weeks. She seemed to feel a compelling urge to convince me to convert to her workout of choice versus the various sports and athletic exercises I already was partial to.
It’s not like I have anything against yoga per se, it’s just the one time I actually tried yoga I fumbled the steps, lost my balance and fell asleep during the meditation.
And don’t even get me started on those positions with animal names. Whaaaaaaat do you want me to do with my leg?
The Om bit at the end is kind of cool though, it reminds me of those Tibetan throat singers. Weird noises vibrating out of thing air etc. It’s a neat sound.
But eventually I caved in and convinced my sister Jaclyn to join me at the nearest Bikram yoga studio after work one Monday.
Of course we couldn’t find it and stepped into a SuperIntenseCardioIsForSuckersGymThing to ask for help.
“Why don’t you just come check out our program?” Suggested the buff blonde gladiator at the reception desk.
One glance behind her—20 or so pairs of sweat-banded-athletes tossing a medicine ball back and forth in time with the music greeted my gaze with force—was all I needed to know there was no way I would ever set foot in that place again—for directions or otherwise.
“Yeah for sure, next time.” I said as BBG pointed out the teeny yoga studio across the street.
Upon entering the studio we were targeted immediately as first-timers and were set up with a schedule and rented mats as well as several cautions to not speak while in the studio, to bring a towel and to remember it’s hot.
No problem, I thought to myself, we can whisper jokes to each other, I have a towel and summer’s better anyway.
Problem. Bikram Yoga Problem.
First of all, they said it was going to be hot. They said we would sweat. They did not say we would sweat BEFORE the session began due to the room being the temperature of a FIRE.
PLUS the sign on the door, which said “No Talking,” also added, “No Whispering,” and several other offenses to the list.
So, being first-time keeners Jaclyn and I went into the room 15 minutes early and nearly ran straight out again.
Unfortunately there aren’t any in-and-out priviledges at Hot Hot Bikram Yoga.
So I was a sweaty mess upon entry and the situation didn’t improve throughout the 90-minute torture session that ensued.
OK, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t torture. But it was hot and my sweat stung every scrape and bruise on my body and burned in my eyes. It also caused my mat to be a bit slippy since I didn’t bring a large enough towel for it to completely cover my mat and catch my grossness.
At one point the instructor, clad in only shorts I’m sure were my brother’s in 1985, came over to open the window beside me a smidge. That gave me permission to think it was too hot in the studio and I was not any less hardcore for thinking so.
The moves weren’t too difficult, and sometimes other people would stop altogether and lie on their mats (which I thought were for quick naps at first but apparently it’s something about re-focusing). But the weird thing was the instructor, who kept up a steady stream of calm and relaxing conversation towards the class the entire session, kept inserting the new people’s names into whatever he was going on about.
For example, “OK we’re going to put our right arm straight up in the air, that’s right Robyn, and hold… hold… hold it Jaclyn; Lift your eyes to the ceiling and concentrate on that spot above you Sally and breathe…”
His voice was so mellow it was a bit freaky to actually hear your name.
It was like you’d been caught daydreaming in math class and you don’t know the answer to whatever question the teacher chalked up on the board.
The best part of the session was when we got to lie down. There were tons of awesome stretches that didn’t hurt to hold (as opposed to the standing up positions) and it was easy to sneak some water in while deep breathing.
There was one weird position where we had to lie on our stomachs with our face flat on the ground. I don’t know about you, but my nose totally gets in the way. So I improvised and turned my head to rest my cheek on the ground.
It wasn’t a great plan, however, because I was sweating so much I was literally resting my face resting in a pool of my own making.
It was then the instructor walked over to me, bent down and whispered, “Hey Robyn, I opened the window over there a while ago and was wondering if it’s too chilly for you.”
Confused I lifted my face from its puddle and, with sweat dripping awkwardly from everywhere, opened my eyes wide and shook my head.
He smiled and walked away, continually talking at his calm, monotone pace and I put my head back in the pool.
On the drive home I told my sister what the instructor had said to me during class. I also mentioned the sweat pool.
“I think he was teasing you.”
That kind of ticked me off. I mean, sure it must have been amusing to see me ignorantly struggling with yoga positions and stubbornly sleeping in sweat instead of mopping it up with my towel, and I’m pretty sure he noticed how I couldn’t lift my foot above my knee but tried to fake it anyway…but he was wearing short shorts and teasing the new kid!
Honestly, I think I came out on top on this one.
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