John Isner playing a Wimbledon match over 3 days…
Michael Jordon in triple overtime in 1993 NBA finals…
Ali vs Frazier in 12th round at Thrilla at Manilla….
All legends in the game but I claim none of these guys even got close to sweating as much as I did when I took part in my first ever Bikram yoga class. Referred to as hot yoga, you voluntarily place yourself in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room where you perform 26 different postures over 90 minutes, after which you’re baked to about medium rare depending on number of bastings. I was a little hesitant to try it but a friend who swears by the discipline and has the results to show for it convinced me to give it a shot and I figured the worst that could happen is I have a total body core shutdown so what the hell.
I walk in for the 9am class about 30 min early to ensure I get a good spot (next to the exit for a quick getaway if needed) As I enter the main lobby a wave of heat hits me and I think it’s tolerable until I realize it’s just a small sampling of the escaped heat from the main yoga room/oven. The earlier class is letting out and people are emerging from the room looking like they were just rescued from a week trapped in death valley. I consider a fast getaway but the receptionist still has my credit card. I try to remember if I bought the credit card insurance for purchases that could actually kill me. I did not.
Finally our class is let into the room and as I’m literally hit with a wall of heat that makes my eyebrow hair spontaneously combust I’m thinking 90 minutes my ass..my initial goal today is to last 90 seconds. I now long for the tranquil 85 degree environment of the reception lobby. Too late. I’m in and I’m committed. The very nice teacher spots the rookie in the class immediately (Hint – the guy looking on the floor for singed eyebrow hair) and formally welcomes me to Bikram. I suspect that is the insider language to coily announce that side bets on my survival are now being taken. I’m able to decipher that the over/under number on when I run screaming from the room is 37 minutes. The woman next to me clearly has the under number as she hauls out her own portable humidifier. Like 105 degrees is not enough for her. I make a mental note to sweat directly on her when possible.
Let the class begin. We start with some deep breathing exercise but I’m already way ahead of them with my own hyper ventilation technique to keep the air from starting a fire in my lungs. It doesn’t work. Then 3 minutes into the class I have to pee. Seems I took the pre-hydration warning a bit too seriously. 26 postures to go and fortunately the first one puts my bladder in a knot so I’m temporarily out of danger. .
Pose #2 . They call it Pada Hastasana or Hands to Feet Bend all the Way Over Pose. I call it “Person in front of me please consider not wearing the shorty shorts for your next visit. Spandex can be your friend and mine” pose.
Pose #5 called Dandayamana (Standing Head to Knee Pose) My head has not touched me knee since that hard check I took on the boards at hockey game last year….by my own teammate none the less. He’s not here so I crash and burn pretty hard on this one
Pose #12 called Padangustasana (Toe Stand Pose)It’s as hard as it sounds. Support all of your weight on one set of toes. They might have just as much asked me to levitate off the ground in the seated position and I’d have about as much luck.
Pose #13 called Savasana (Dead Body Pose) Nailed it on the first try! It’s now 38 minutes in class. Dollars are exchanged between classmates. Humidifier girl turns up the dial just to spike me since I cost her $20.
Pose #14 called Pavanmuktasana (Wind Removing Pose) I quickly realize this refers to “inner” body wind and it’s at this moment I realize why there was a bit of a distinct smell emulating from the room when I first entered. On the plus side I’m one class in and my colon already feels 3 years younger.
Pose #16 called Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) This represents the first pose where you are lying on your stomach and I realize very intimately that it’s been quite a while since I last cleaned my yoga mat. I’m extra motivated to pull my head off the matt but no matter how hard I try I can’t kiss my big toe which is what the woman next to me is doing….while applying nail polish at the same time. Showoff.
Pose #20 called Supta Vajrasana (Fixed Firm Pose) Instructed as a pose easy to accomplish, I find that to be true as I start in a seated kneeling position and bend all the way back until Im on my back, knees folded in. Feeling quite studly until I realize I have no idea how to get out of the pose. Thinking fast I announce to the room that I’m going for the fixed firm pose hold record which evokes cheers from my class brethren. Once I can no longer feel my lower extremities I am able to finally break free and revert back to the dead body pose.
Pose #21 called Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose) Im way ahead of the game as most of my external extremities went “full tortoise” atleast an hour ago from the heat.
Pose #22 Ustrasana (Camel Pose) Bend your head and neck all the way back while on your knees. This is when I realize Mr. Bikram was a visionary. Over an hour into class one might feel like barfing from heat exhaustion but in this pose he has ensured that you will only to puke on your own face. Genius!
85 minutes into the class the heat finally gets to me and I start to display rapid shallow breathing. The Yoga instructor is speechless and quite impressed at my ability to quickly adopt as it turns out this happens to be the final breathing exercise called Khapalbhati (Blowing in Firm pose)
90 minutes. Done. High fives all around save for mean humidifier girl. I gather my mat, exit the oven and feel the glorious 85 degree lobby air embrace all around me. For a moment I’m speechless until I instinctively shout out “SOMEONE GIVE ME MY FUCKING KLONDIKE BAR!!!
BTW I really loved the class and officially addicted! 🙂