As the 30-Day Yoga Challenge continues, I continue to look for ways to keep it new and fresh (or perhaps in this case, ripe?).
Call me out of touch, or late to the party, or just plain retro, but I’m finally getting on board with Bikram Yoga. So what if it ascended to mainstream popularity in the 1970’s? I’m so far behind the times on this one that I’m almost at hipster-level of anticipating its comeback. Nevertheless, unlike nearly everything else from the 70’s, Bikram Yoga has retained an ardent following for many reasons, not the least of which is: It’s so hot right now.
“You is talking loco and I like it.”
The most recognizable aspect of Bikram Yoga (the Gorbachev birthmark, if you will) is the heat. It’s 105 degrees in there. Every time. Now, I’m practicing in Texas which, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, is roughly like practicing on the surface of the sun. So, I had to really wonder why any human would seek to be hotter than just merely existing in the Texas summer heat.
Bikram says the 105-degree heat will:
- Keep the body from overheating (contrary to popular misconception)
- Protect the muscles to allow for deeper stretching
- Detoxify the body (open pores to let toxins out)
- Thin the blood to clear the circulatory system
- Increase heart rate for better cardiovascular workout
- Improve strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization
- Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure
Blob says the 105-degree heat will:
- Mask the effects of the seat-belt buckle burn on your palm
- Obviate the need to wear blush for 8 to ten hours (Your complexion will be fuchsia. All over.)
- Provide all the water-loss benefits enjoyed by those freaks who run in Glad trash bags without the style liability of looking like Missy Elliot in her I Can’t Stand the Rain video
- Accelerate, through sheer necessity, your confidence in wearing short-shorts
- Actually make the atmosphere outside feel CRISP for the first 30 seconds after you exit the studio
“What’s the dealio, yo?”
But, and this may shock you, there’s more that makes Bikram different from plain old vanilla yoga than just the heat. There’s the fact that there are only 26 poses and they are exactly the same, in exactly the same order, every time. Kind of like Starbucks: You don’t necessarily get ALL of the crazy options, but you do get a reliable set of options you can count on without fail. Also, the options you do get are dang good.
Mercifully, hand and arm balances are essentially ignored. I don’t know about you, but I always look on those poses with a bit of trepidation anyway, and that’s in classes where I’m NOT already soaking wet. Maybe admitting this makes me less of a yogi, or not a yogi at all, or whatever, but I depend upon a healthy dose of natural friction to make at least one-third of my yoga poses stick. All that’s right out the window (or would be if there were an open window anywhere) when you’re 75 minutes deep in a 105-degree yoga class.
“The results are in, amigo. What’s left to ponder?”
Not that I’ve been at this long enough to really honestly discuss bona fide results, but when has that ever stopped anyone from waxing authoritative? The teacher told me my goal for the class was to (1) stay in the room, and (2) just listen to what she said. After class as she handed me a packet of electrolytes (!!! I almost tried to make a bad movie reference there, but figured the fact that Owen and Luke Wilson are brothers was just too tenuous a degree of separation.) and told me that I’d done an “amazing” job. Despite what you may have heard, my abilities to stay in a place and listen to a person are virtually unparalleled. So there was at least immediate gratification.
Other results include the sheer unbridled awesomeness of ejecting from the studio into the mid-June Texas twilight and actually catching a chill. It was almost like being through the looking-glass. Were those goosebumps? Awesome.
That night brought deep, untroubled sleep, which is also rare and also a plus. Full disclosure, though: Deep, untroubled sleep may also have resulted from any of the following: (1) working too much; (2) finally crossing Fifty Shades of Grey off my to-do list and promptly deleting it from my Kindle; or (3) beer.
The next morning I felt revived, refreshed, and nowhere near as sore as I deserved to feel after ninety minutes of yoga. Another tick in the Pro column.
But the day after, that’s where the real results were realized. I was sitting in traffic on a scooter (You read that right. Not just eco-friendly, but also hilariously fun and, frankly, badass), when what to my wondering ears did sound but a truck-full of house-painters flying between jobs leaning just far enough out of their over-crammed light-body pickup truck to shout: “Nice legs.”