• Hot Yoga - Bikrams Twenty Six


    Even though the world population has shifted from mainlyrural to mainly urban in the last decade, there are stilllots of folks like me who live in the sticks. Doing thingslike taking a yoga class becomes a different thing in ourcase from driving to the neighborhood gym. Since I live 40miles from the nearest town large enough for yoga studios, when I decided to take a class, I was more interested inthe schedule than I was the type of yoga. I couldn't affordto be picky if I preferred not to wait around for a couplehours after getting off work. So I looked in the phonebook, and didn't pay attention to anything but theschedule. There it was: M-W-F at 4:00. Perfect. I don'tknow what rock I'd been living under, but the word "Bikram"writ large across the ad in the yellow pages didn't triggerthe term 'hot yoga' in my mind, and that left me in for abig surprise.

    I showed up with a comfy pair of sweatpants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. As the woman at the desk was giving me alittle orientation information - explaining that the roomwas heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit - I realizedthat my concept of yoga clothes weren't going to work here. Apparently, I wasn't the first to make this error. Susietold me they had loaners. Now, it's been a while since thelast time I wore hot-pants, so when she handed me thelittle scrap of shorts, I thought, "No way." She said,"Trust me, you'll fit right in."

    Susie continued, giving a few more orientation tips, whichstarted to seem like a set of warnings. "Our first-timestudents are encouraged to rest whenever you feel youshould - kind of take it gradually. The instructors justask that you do your best to stay in the room for theentire time." What? Were we still talking yoga here? I'dseen pictures. Sure, I might not be able to balance on oneleg while holding the other one over my head at my firsttry, but come on. How hard could it be to stretch as faras I could go and stop there? Why would I get desperate toleave the room?

    Her next suggestion: "OK, I see you brought a bottle ofwater. That's good, but you'll be tempted to drink a lot, and I recommend you just drink sips - not too much at atime." Hmm. What was I getting into here? It soundedlike I was facing some kind of ordeal - not what I had inmind at all since I was thinking of yoga as a peaceful, low-impact way just to stretch and keep my aging body flexibleand strong.

    Once I was dressed in the little bit of shorts, I openedthe door to the yoga studio and was met with a rush of hot, stultifying air. Oh goody. I walked to an open space, spread my mat, lay on my back, and understood exactly whatshe meant by asking me to at least stay in the room. I wasalready dripping sweat, and we hadn't even begun the class.

    Ninety minutes and twice through the 26 poses later, I wasindeed still in the room. In the non-competitive, supportive atmosphere I had been completely guided to go tomy edge, but not so far that I would be turned off bystruggle. In fact, I was exhilarated. I lay on my back atthe end, eyes closed in the peaceful, very hot room, andknew I'd be back for more.


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