I Tried Bikram Yoga & I Didn’t Die

Hello, friends! Happy Easter to those who celebrate and for those who don’t, happy Sunday!

As I sit here and write this, I’m grappling with the long sought after leg soreness that I haven’t felt in months. I kind of like it. It means that I’ve worked hard these past few days and that my body has its limitations.

After a very lackluster winter running season, it feels good to be running more consistently. I kept myself busy with other forms of exercise when the weather was freezing (endless spinning on my bike trainer, barre, yoga, and Tone It Up workouts, including the Love Your Body series). I’ve found things I love, things I don’t love as much, and realized that just because you’re a runner doesn’t mean you’re necessarily fit. Sure, I can run 26.2 miles, but can I stand on one leg and lift the other in front of me? Unlikely. I’ve been challenged and humbled.

Since I’ve been consistent in my yoga and hot yoga practice and knowing that this is a “practice” not a perfection, it’s something I know I want to continue to work toward and to also supplement my running.

So, I stepped up my game yesterday and took an afternoon Bikram class (105 degrees, 40% humidity, 90 minutes). After running a four mile race in the morning and having sore calves, I thought the class might be a good idea. See my previous statement about challenging and humbling.

I was nervous to go the next step, but trying new things always has an element of fear built into it. I kept telling myself that if I didn’t at least try I’d never know what I was missing out on. I’m glad I forced myself out of my comfort zone.

I’d rather exercise in heat than cold so I made sure to hydrate well (I brought two 16oz. bottles with me, one water and one coconut water) and grab a spot near the door in case I became sick. Of course, I researched the 26 Bikram poses beforehand (nerd) to make sure I knew what I was getting into. The poses are on the simpler side and there is a lot of resting between sequences, but the temperature of the room is what makes the class very challenging.

In yoga, instructors will tell you there’s no ego. Because I knew this was going to be a hot one, I stripped down to a sports bra and capris which is not something I would normally do, but as I looked around the class I noticed that there were a variety of clothing choices and body types. It was an interesting observation and there was a stark difference between this Bikram class and my vinyasa (flow) classes.  It’s funny to say, but I kind of felt at home. No body hangups, no reservations, no ego. It was all left at the door. There were some fellow beginners, noticeably advanced yogis, and many in between.

All was going well (I found the first half to be difficult as I acclimated to the heated torture chamber) until someone passed out and 911 had to be called. It happened during a resting period (savasana posture between the first and second half of class). We all laid there as our instructor rushed outside to tend to our fellow classmate. She yelled in for help and we could all hear the fear in her voice. After the EMTs showed up, the woman came-to, and in the end all was ok. In fact, as all of this was transpiring another classmate addressed the full class and asked for us to channel our energy to the woman and to our instructor. It was a scary situation and this was definitely the appropriate thing to do. Our instructor handled the situation as best as she could.

See what I mean by challenging and humbling? The woman who passed out had taken several Bikram classes before without any consequence.  It made me realize that our bodies have their limits and that running, yoga, or any other form of exercise is a lifelong journey. We don’t get better in one race or after one class. We apply our minds to persevere for the long haul. Needless to say, we picked the class up where we left off and continued on until we were done with all 26 poses.

Will I be back? Yes, with just as many nerves running through my body.

Have you ever taken a Bikram class? What did you think?

What’s your favorite form of exercise outside of running?

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