"Go back to your mat RIGHT NOW. There is no leaving the room during my class."Having skipped practice yesterday due to incredible stiffness and exhaustion due to eight hours of driving as part of the final leg of the big Sleepaway Camp Tour, I decided that today I would "do" Bikram (notice I didn't call it "Bikram yoga") instead of strictly observing the Moonday.
- Scary-Ass Bikram Teacher to Yoga Chickie
And boy was it fun!!!! Um, oh, wait.
The teacher was an 85 pound, 25 year old guy wearing tight short shorts (not exactly Speedos, but pretty intense nonetheless). At first, I was really enjoying his style - not too too talkative, not too too overzealous with the promises of eternal life if only one practices Bikram's yoga six times per week. However, as much as I was enjoying his style, I was not enjoying the heat. I don't understand why I can no longer tolerate extreme heat, when I was able to make it through Bikram classes just fine all through the second three months of chemo, and sometimes even the same DAY as a chemo treatment. But it is what it is, and what it is is an intense detoxification via sweat and water replenishment (can you say 80 ounces in 90 minutes) that is incredibly unpleasant and uncomfortable for me but that I feel that I must endure every now and then. And I'm using the term, "endure" quite loosely. By the time we got to the second pose - the one where you bend your spine in four different directions - I was already sucking wind. I could barely hold my arms up over my head. I certainly couldn't tolerate bending my spine in four different directions (although I did enjoy bending into Uttanasana, which they call "Dandayama Bipaktapada Paschimotanasana"!!).
But I did my best to stick with it. I managed to finish the "warm-up" portion of the class (including three different versions of Uttkatasana, and Garudasana - eagle pose), the part before which you are forbidden to drink any water. And I even got through the first posture in the standing series (a version of Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana). But when it came time for Natarajasana (which Bikram calls "Dandayamana Dhanurasana"), I found myself phoning in the first side of it, just holding my right foot in my right hand and lifting my left arm over my head, but doing nothing in the way of stretching or opening the shoulders. And then an alarm went off in my head. It was time to get the hell outta there, at least long enough to gasp some oxygen back into my system and stop the cooking process by stepping into the air conditioned lobby (the way one stops a hard-boiled egg from cooking by plunging it into cold water).
That's when Scary-Ass Bikram Teacher stood between me and the door, stared down at me menacingly and spoke the words to which I could only reply, "Sorry, but I don't want to die in your class."
I stayed out in the delightfully cool lobby during the rest of Natarajasana and "Tuladandasana" (people who practice authentic hatha yoga will know this one as Digasana, or Virabadrasana III) and then crept back into the room and finished the class with what dignity I could muster.
But it doesn't seem like this Bikram thing is going too well for me.