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My First Bikram Yoga Class

Today, after many weeks of deliberation, I decided to sign up for a yoga class near my work. I’ve done some yoga in the past, and while I expected the class to be more slightly more difficult than ones I’d attended in the past (yoga is all they do at this place, whereas all previous yoga had been taught by instructors at the gym– who also teach a bunch of other fitness classes), I was surprised at just how challenging the class I went to tonight ended up being.

If you’re unfamiliar with the different styles or names of yoga, Bikram is a variation where the poses are done in a very hot room.

I expected to leave the class with a nice “glow,” but didn’t realize that I would learn it was possible for sweat to be formed in some places on the human body (sorry if you are squeamish at the thought of sweat; I’d suggest not reading any further if that is the case).

Per instructions listed on the studio’s website, I arrived about a half an hour early, and after a brief introduction about the class, as well as giving them some information and paying for a beginner’s package, I was directed to the changing room to drop off my bag before heading into the yoga room.

Having been a member at several gyms over the years, I’ve managed to get over my aversion of changing in front of other women, and think I have mastered the art of changing while being discreet and modest. I learned today that some of the women in the locker/changing room were either never taught that lesson, or just don’t care about strangers seeing them in their birthday suits.

Upon walking into the changing area, I was immediately greeted by full frontal (no warning or even an attempt at covering up was made), and since I wasn’t really expecting to walk onto a real life version of Girls, I dropped off my bag, quickly hightailed it out of there and headed for the yoga studio.

While waiting for class to begin, I was able to relax, start acclimating to the warmer temperature in the room, and became hopeful that the class wouldn’t be so hard that I’d want to cry. Boy, was I ever wrong about that assumption.

Approximately 3.5 seconds after I told myself the class was going to be a piece of cake, the instructor walked in, cranked up the heat, and had everyone stand up to work on the first “easy” pose– which was just a breathing technique.

I never realized just how challenging the simple task of breathing is until given the instructions to hold my entire body in a certain position, and then work on inhaling and exhaling without losing the pose. Despite my best attempts to mimic the others in the class, I’m fairly certain I wasn’t really breathing properly, but at least managed to fake it well enough to be able to move on with the rest of the class to the actual movements.

Some of the positions were relatively easy, or ones I was familiar with from past yoga classes, while others were definitely quite intense. At one point in the evening, I was attempting to be a tree (stand on one leg with the foot of the opposite leg tucked into your knee– kinda like a flamingo), and I was certain that I would fall over– not from lack of balance, but for the sheer fact that my entire body felt like it was covered in water, and I knew my foot was going to slip.

I only stumbled a couple of times, and just when I thought my body was going to collapse in a heap on the floor, we switched from standing to sitting poses.

I was so relieved for this small break, but also reminded of just how disgusting I was at the time, and understood why everyone else in the class had on the bare minimum of clothing. No longer being able to stand my tank top clinging to my skin, I stripped it away and continued in just my sports bra and shorts (I was tempted to lose the shorts too,).

The rest of the class was pretty uneventful, although I did start to see blurry spots in front of my eyes a couple of times near the end, and decided to sit out for a few minutes. After the class, I shared that with the instructor, who told me that was a sign of dehydration.

I was really proud of myself for taking the steps to try something new, and push my limits physically. My original plan was to jump right back into another class first thing tomorrow morning before work, but I think I might take a day off and work on rehydrating first.

Even though it was much harder than I originally anticipated, I had a really good time, and can’t wait to go back!

Have you ever tried Bikram or other yoga classes, and if so, what did you think?

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