Bikram Yoga: What was I thinking?

Photo: Visit London

This is what I imagine hell is like. It’s smelly, it’s humid, it’s hot and you’re in a room with 30 other sweaty people. I was dripping with sweat – even my calves were sweating. Oh, and then class started.

Yeah that’s right. I was dripping sweat on my calves, feet, forearms and all the normal sweaty places before class even began.

I suppose that this description on the Bikram Yoga Milwaukee website should have been a dead giveaway, but I ignored it:

“It is normal to feel dizzy during class. Blood circulation and pressure changes rapidly this may cause dizziness. You will learn to love this euphoric feeling of stretching tight muscles.”

Lemme tell you, I did not find it euphoric. It was my first time trying Bikram Yoga. I was able to do many of the poses (or modified versions of them) thanks to my regular yoga practice, but oh my goodness, this fat girl couldn’t take it anymore.

After 30 or 40 minutes, I had to lie down. I couldn’t stand anymore. I couldn’t breathe (blame the asthma – I always have huge problems breathing when the air is hot and humid). I was seeing stars. I got dizzy. I thought I was going to puke.

Then I did something I swore I would never do until I’m at my goal weight. I took my shirt off in public. Ok, well it was a tank top but still. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I sat there in my sports bra and yoga pants. And then I wondered if I could get away with taking my pants off. I wanted it all off. I couldn’t bear it anymore.

The breathing, the dizziness, the nausea didn’t get better so I got the hell out of there at the 1 hour mark. Within 10 minutes, there were four of us in the lobby, dripping with sweat (sexy), out of breath (also sexy) all wondering what the hell we got ourselves into. Coincidentally, we had all gotten the Bikram Groupons. LOL.

I’m sure I’ll try it again, but I have no desire to do that again anytime soon.

Stepping out of my comfort zone

Today at yoga, Alicia (the instructor) said to us before a difficult series of movements, “If you’ve never fallen on your face you haven’t tried hard enough.

This quote really resonated with me. Sometimes when I’ve done physical things in public lately, I’ve felt a little out of place. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s hard when you’re in a room with 25 other people and you’re obviously the biggest person there. A few months ago, you would have never seen me doing the downward facing dog in public.

Yoga can be very intimidating. When I started up yoga 2 weeks ago, I began with a “Yoga for Dummies” DVD I borrowed from the library. I couldn’t do the downward facing dog or the tree pose. Now, I can do downward facing dog… but I can’t quite get my heels flat on the floor just yet. Each time I do yoga, it gets easier and easier for me to do the poses. I am really enjoying the warrior poses and sun salutations.

I’ll be honest – there are some movements/series that are very difficult for me because of my extra bulk. So I am not advanced into those movements, but I’m still trying. In the sun salutations series, I can’t easily go from plank to lunge or fold because my legs won’t move like that. But I’m ok with it. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel great. Yoga is doing wonders for my body and my soul. My physical therapist (who I’m seeing for headaches/neck and back pain) said that yoga is a great exercise for me right now. Some day, I want to try Bikram (hot yoga). I’m not ready for that just yet, but I would like to take yoga classes on a regular basis.

I know a lot of people find yoga intimidating, but what I’ve realized now is that no one else in the room is staring at you or judging you. Yoga is a very personal practice. If someone is focusing on you they obviously aren’t going to get as much out of the experience as you will. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do all the poses, you will still get an amazing workout! If I can do yoga, anyone can.