Bikram yoga is a hot festering mess. Bucket-list progress: Finding my radiant weight!

not so far off from my experience, except fewer peeps

it all seems so peaceful

It’s easy to romanticize bikram yoga if you haven’t done it in over a year. I made good on my promise to myself last night and got my 168-pound girl body downtown to get my bikram on. I was all excited to go – you know, except for the dealing with people (social anxiety), parking, traffic, mat-etiquette, skimpy-clothing parts. But the exercise I was confident I could get through this time – I would skip out of the studio – like LITERALLY skip – exhibiting that lightness-of-existence Mary Tyler Moore had in the opening sequence of her eponymous TV show.

Yeah, not as magical as I remember. 1.5 hours later and I felt like I had done pretty much all the exercise required of me for the next two years, all the while facing a mental challenge I have no interest in facing – watching my puffy, scantily-clad body (because each garment of clothing means you are one step closer to death when practicing bikram) perform the postures in the floor-to-ceiling mirror that spans the length of the studio. Bikram, please remove the mirrors.

Our teach was Loren – a bald, gay, thirty-something Swedish guy, yes – wearing only a blue/white/black speedo, who talked about how he had run down most of the cartilage in his back by his early 20s. Practicing bikram allowed his body the space it needed to let the cartilage heal and grow. Not sure if that is scientifically accurate, but I like to pretend that little outburst of info was aimed at me since we had just done a posture that never sits well with my knees, and I had verbally expressed incredulity that I would be expected to perform it.

i will need to tan and tan some more and grow hair longer and dye it and work out

So, the temp is 105. The humidity of the room is – ideally – 40%. You’re basically in Florida in the dead of summer and someone says – hey, let’s sustain a series of postures and repeat each twice until an hour and thirty minutes has gone by! Oh, and our warm-up should probably last 45 minutes – meaning no “mat work” (sitting down) until we hit the tail-end of our fun!

yeah mine don’t look like this

I wonder if Mr. Bikram knew what he was getting into when he decided that this workout was the way to go. I mean, there are just so many disturbing aspects to it. It elicits the most primitive-sounding breath; I like to call it “dinosaur breath.” It’s essentially a result of breathing in and out only through your nose. We all know the nasal passages don’t offer a lot of in the way of physical room for inhaling that much-needed oxygen and exhaling its painfully sad brother carbon dio. Since the violence of the dinosaur breath is much more pronounced in some bikram goers than others, I am operating under the assumption that we are working with some deviated septums as well.

Or maybe people just don’t care what they sound like. The truth is, when you do bikram, you are dying a little. Your heart is beating so quickly and violently that it feels like it will expand to such a size that it will crash into the back of your chest cavity, shattering the latter to pieces. So now you are a hot sweaty mess who has just torn her heart muscle and whose dying stomach is forced to attempt to digest the shattered bone fragments that are a result of the rib-cage accident.

When all was unsaid and done last night, I did leave bikram feeling differently. Just not the “right” differently. I felt like 1) I was going to barf, 2) I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted for the rest of the night and 3) having watched myself in the mirror for the past 1.5 hours, I had no choice but to continue to pay to engage in this type of activity for the next two months in an effort to look better in a bathing suit for my cruise to Jamaica alongside my negative size-8 bestie.

BRING IT

If what the bikram peeps say is true – that “practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition,” I am clearly hanging on to life by a thin, thin thread. It has been nearly 24 hours and I still have a headache that, if it could speak, would say: “Excuse my German, but what in the fucking sam-hell fuck is going on?” But if I have to endure seeing an Asian woman stretch and contort for an hour while one of her shoulder-length black hairs sticks to the skin of her pale bare foot, my declining health is ok with me. Sticky skin and hair absolutely do not mix, and I don’t want to live in a world where they do. I will stay bikram-focused with my eyes closed for the next two months, listening as often as I possibly can to the French deej Kavinsky and his dark, intriguing “Nightcall” beats. I will wear my bathing suit on the cruise. Then I can die.

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139 responses

  1. Bahahaha! Loved your post! I don’t do any form of Yoga (or any other exercise that requires me to do it in a class… school PE trauma, I’m afraid), but your description of Bikram just makes me so very, very sure that I never want to do it. Being shut in a hot room with scores of other sweating, farting, under-dressed hippopotami (and the obligatory body-con, tanned, skinny buggers, grrr), while torturing my body into postures it wasn’t designed to hold, then suffering a several-days yoga-hangover afterwards… nah. Not for me! Honestly, I faint if I go into a sauna; the outcome of the above scenario would not be good!

  2. You just described my first 2 classes of bikram, except my instructor is totally straight, totally hot and NOT someone you want walking around you when your butt is in the air and sweat is streaming down all your extremities!
    Although I think you should definitely keep it up for the trip to Jamacia!!!
    Great post!

  3. Bikram yoga is incredibly bizarre to me (and I say this as a yoga teacher). It’s so bizarre to me that Bikram Choudhury wants to patent yoga poses (wtf), hosts yoga competitions (wtf) and wants yoga to be an olympic sport (double wtf).

    Also, I’m not totally against hot yoga, but I think it increases the likelihood of injury among those who aren’t totally body-aware. The heat tricks your body into thinking that it’s more warmed up than it is, and you can easily pull a muscle or over-strain yourself.

    Sorry to go all preachy-technical on you – this is a hilarious post! Thanks for writing it!

    p.s. The dinosaur breath is an actual thing that people are doing on purpose, in case you were wondering. It’s called Ujjayi breath http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ujayyi_breath

  4. Good luck with the war on Bikram! Never tried it but have been an avid fan of other forms of yoga for most of my life.

  5. Reblogged this on Bubba & Mama and commented:
    How I couldn’t last through bikram but I could do ashataga 😉

  6. Bikram is a practice that I enjoy greatly. It can be very challenging but I do think that it is worth it. I once took a class in SF and I remember whining a lot, then I saw this 70 old man missing an arm and a leg and somehow he was still completing the poses. I was inspired to stick with and now I do the poses with much greater ease.

  7. Okay! Another reason I am glad I have chosen a different kind of yoga.
    I’m hoping my experience is a little more serene: http://irunibreathe.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/going-on-a-yoga-strike/ – or at least without the sweating and heat.
    Congrats on the FP! This was good for a laugh.
    Cheers,
    iRuniBreathe

  8. Funny, Jenis. I hope your yoga teachers read this. Writing about yoga tends often toward the pious – your take on it is a breath of sweaty air!

    Whilst understanding the principles behind Bikram Yoga I’ve always thought there was something odd about steaming one’s body to unnatural temperatures. Next time you want to sweat like a pig, get some work as a cotton chipper in summer on a cotton farm on the driest continent on earth. At the start of the season the cotton plants are mere inches high, and though it’s a dry climate, you come away at the end of a day’s chipping (chipping out weeds wih a hoe (or by hand where necessary) in v shaped trenches), sweatin’ and stinkin’. You notice a few pongers[sic]. Four months later, those cotton plants are over 6 feet high, and it’s like working in a deep wet jungle, chipping and yanking those weeds up. Up and down the rows. Up and down the rows. Everybody stinks, but nobody notices. Maybe it’s the four litres of water a day that you are pouring down your gullet.

    Ah, halcyon days!

    Now, I prefer pushing back the couch and unfurling my beach towel onto the lounge room carpet to practise Yatan yoga facing the sun.

  9. Exact same feeling – my friend and I even tried to walk out the first time we were so overwhelmed but apparently that is forbidden! Keep at it though, it’s totally worth it

  10. Excellent blog post. You had me in hysterics. Thank you for opening my eyes to the horror of Bikram Yoga.

    1. I never even thought about that – it’s Halloween time too!

  11. Tales of Braške | Reply

    I can only laugh.. If you truly enjoy yoga, there is definitely more forms of it out there that are more enjoyable than Bikram!

  12. Thanks for the laugh!

    I have never tried yoga and I’m pretty certain I will never try this style of yoga. I think I’ll stick with my Wednesday evening adult ballet classes. Generally, the studio is cold and I can wear as many layers as I like.

    1. Cold is goooooooooooooooooooooood

  13. the first yoga i ever did was bikram, but once i realized there were so many (and, in my opinion, better) different kinds of yoga…i was hooked. bring on the vinyasa. bikram, who?!

  14. Good luck with the Bikram! It’s worth it…

  15. […] called in sick to work today. No, I don’t have the flu or the runs or conjunctivitis. I did bikram last […]

  16. […] Bikram yoga is a hot festering mess. Bucket-list progress: Finding my radiant weight! (mylabucketlist.com) […]

  17. Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green.

  18. […] me, I need stability. I want to get my health and finances in order, and while my employment situation hasn’t always been ideal in terms of […]

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