Nik and I have started practicing hot yoga, I specifically practice bikram. I started this for several reasons, the first being I photographed someone who looked absolutely 15 years younger than she was with one killer body to boot, she credited bikram. Second, running shortens the muscles big time, yoga lengthens them. My balance began to really suffer when one side of my body was tighter than the other obviously I need a equal gait to avoid all kinds of runner injuries. Bikram is done in a room heated to 105 degrees and this helps to soften the body to prevent injuries, think hot taffy versus cold taffy. My third reason: I need the mental relaxation.
Here is a little back story if you don’t know what bikram is. Bikram Choudhury started the Yoga College of India in 1974. It consists of 26 poses and two breathing exercises in a heated room. All of this according to bikram’s website helps to “improve circulation, improve physical strength and eliminate toxins” the heat assists and “accelerates the rate of change within the body. And then there is the weight loss, even if you haven’t seen those amazing photos of Betsy all you have to do is attend one class before you realize you are burning the hell out of some calories!, about 863, no really, I googled it.
Nikki and I are both hooked, we love it! And I have already loosened up my left hip and I recover sooo much faster after a long run. I almost can’t wait to stretch out my lower back in class the next morning. I take much less advil and I don’t smell like sports cream all the time, just some of the time, that’s the good news, the bad news is it’s really hard, for alot of reasons.
it’s hot, it’s a 90MIN class!, it’s hot, your heart feels like it’s going to beat right our of your chest, it’s hot, the poses are difficult, it’s SO hot, you worry that your head might fly off your shoulders if you have to bend over one more time and yes, it’s bloody’ effen hot! It is not your traditional yoga class, so don’t think it is. Regular yoga is practically done by candlelight with a gentle ocean breeze compared to this! My first class was a bit of a shocker, I’m just lying there in the dark trying to breath when all of a sudden my instructor walks in and ALL the lights come on, really bright, really. There is a general idea in bikram to wear as little as possible to class. This is two fold, one: it’s easier to move around in little soaking wet clothes then a lot of big soaking wet clothes, and two: the real reason, Bikram is quoted as saying “the less you wear, the better the yoga” his idea is that when you practice yoga you “take your clothes off, you take your mask off” and you can get to the clarity of who you really are. I got this part real quick.
Yes, everyone is kind of naked in class, I mean really. tini-tiny little booty shorts and tube tops, when is the last time you saw a tube top? Men in underwear, no lie, I saw this man myself, fruit of the looms and no one seemed to care. Most of the people in my class do not have a license to wear bootie shorts, I was a little curious about this. Does bikram attract really confident women who like hot pants or is there something deeper going on here?
It started immediately, I was instructed to position myself in front of the mirror making sure I could see myself, I was repeatedly told to make eye contact with my self, she pretty much shouted during poses, “LOOK AT YOURSELF!, LOOK AT YOURSELF!” I did not want to, all my sweat in such a well lit room, eeewww! I was seriously avoiding myself. I have never seen myself at THESE angles, positions, all these folds and rolls.
At first I was just more comfortable in less clothing for easier movement, but then I got a little more nerve and began to make eye contact with myself. I know it’s sounds weird but it’s true, you cannot lie to yourself standing half naked in the heat! I challenge anyone to this, I mean it’s hard in the bathroom mirror just add about 20 strangers to the mix and give it a go. I arrive to class and spend the first 5 minutes warming up to just MY SELF, I was not kind at first, picking on all the flaws, real and imagined. The people around me really helped, they show up, they do the work, just by all of us agreeing to meet in the same place to practice together is a form of acceptance of each other, we are all so different and so the same. By me accepting them first allows me to accept me. I read all the time that if you want to be loved, love, and so it is. I want to extend kindness to myself as well as others and why not? I don’t think women are comfortable loving themselves, I’m not, but showing up everyday to my mat and my mirror are really getting me there, I invite you to come in and see “your self” and for your self.
here’s me extending love, Zak