Made it out alive. That's the key point to remember in all of this. I'm alive.
Attended my first Bikram hot yoga class last night. Right before class, I was talking to BFF Trisha who asked if I was going to the class alone or with someone.
"My friend Amy is going with me," I said.
"What's she like?"
"Tall, blonde, pretty, about 24 years old."
"Really? Maybe she's super flexible too so you both will have so much in common!"
You can see why we're friends. =)
So. Class. Not so bad. Really. I'd expected my breath to be taken away by the heat, like when you enter a sauna and can feel the embers scorching the back of your throat. Walking into the bikram room was nothing like that. Warm, yes. But sitting still on our mats before class, it was almost comfortable.
Of course, that didn't last long. Bikram is a series of 26 poses that you repeat twice. I found the first series of breathing poses in the opening to be the more challenging part of class. We did maybe 2-3 poses and then the instructor said, "Okay, we're getting warmed up. We're not sweating too much yet at this point."
One word for you, people.
Not sweating too much yet? Are you freaking kidding me?? I was drenched. Rivers of water were running down my arms and legs. My hair was matted to my head. It was not pretty. (Little hot yoga tip from me to you: Unless you want to rock the Goth-druggie look, remove your mascara before class.)
I figured out fairly quickly that surviving hot yoga is like surviving a marathon. In a marathon, you have to be in the moment. If you let your mind wander to "I still have 18 more miles to go," you're doomed. In Bikram, it's so hot and you're sweating so much, that if you think, "I still have 12 poses to go," or "We still have another hour of class," you'll just fall apart mentally. It's very much about being present, moment to moment. Just do the pose you're in and don't think about anything else. Forget that another pose will follow it. Just breathe and experience your body.
Which is not to say that I was able to stay all zen during class. I had highs and lows. There were times I was sweating and tired, but I felt great. That would be followed by a little light-headedness and toward the end of class, after I think I drank too much water, I did feel a little nauseous.
Several times during the class I so badly wanted to step outdoors and just take a breath of cool air. They advise against this and I understand why. The chances of coming back into class after you step out and being able to finish are slim. Instead, you can kneel or lay down on your mat and just breath until you feel able to continue. I had to kneel once or twice, more to get a mental grip on myself then physical. I was trying to muscle through the workout, breathing through my mouth like I was running or lifting weights. Instead, you need to think calm... soothing... breath...
I lost my focus in the last 18 minutes of class. I started watching the clock thinking, "Eleven more minutes until I'm free... 7 more minutes until I can be in my car..." It was at that point that I first noticed the smell. I'm extremely smell sensitive so I was surprised that for most of the class, the smell of 30 people sweating didn't bother me. I don't know if everyone's sweat glands kicked into high gear at the end or what, but phew! The last moments of class were not pleasant.
I was a little light-headed after class and leaned against a wall and talked with Amy. Sweet girl - I'm so glad she was with me. It really helped to have a friend there. (Someone I could trust to carry my expired body out of class if I fainted.) On the drive home and last night, I felt great. Very light and released. I expected to wake up sore this morning but nope, still feel really good.
I'm going back today. My friend Nathan is going to meet me. He ran 13 miles before his first hot yoga class which is mind boggling to me. I had thought about doing the same but now that I've experienced the class, that would be a "hell to the no" on running beforehand.
I've got a 30 day pass and I'd like to stick with at least 2 sessions a week, which means I'm going to need to buy some new yoga clothes.
I'm pretty sure I'll be burning my clothes after each class. There's only so much we can ask a laundry detergent to do.