Saturday, January 22, 2011

The hot stuff

It was like running the half-marathon all over again. Except in 90 minutes. And in a hot room with 30 other people breathing heavily along with you. By the end of it, I felt light-headed, a little nauseous, and I couldn't speak (I did call Jude to try telling him about it immediately after but ask him, I could barely string a sentence together...)

I went for my first Bikram Yoga class today.

Up until a couple of months before Sophie was born, I practiced yoga for two and a half years and loved it. Loved what it did to my energy levels, how it helped my running, and with just my all round sense of well-being. But when Sophie came along and having to juggle writing the dissertation, research work, taking care of her, and just chores in general, working out (and yoga) fell to the wayside.

Then earlier this week, LivingSocial (a Groupon-like company that offers daily deals) featured 10 sessions at the Ann Arbor Bikram Yoga studio for $20 and I bought it in a flash. I'd never done Bikram before but an old friend of mine, Shirlyn (those of you reading in Singapore may know her and her music), is a certified Bikram yoga instructor and has been waxing lyrical about what a life-changing practice it is. I was really looking forward to it and to how I wanted it to snap me out of this winter lethargy I've been feeling.

Oh god, in Jude's words as I walked through the door after class this morning, "You look like you just got your as* handed to you..." I'm not going to lie. It was HARD. Getting used to the temperature is one thing, sustaining the poses in that temperature is something else. I'm used to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga where poses flow dynamically into each other, giving you a cardio workout as well as some good stretching. But in Bikram, holding the static poses works your heart just as much, if not more because of the heated room. I've never perspired as much in 90 minutes as I did today and my giant towel was soaked through once I was done.

But as exhausted as I am (I actually had to take a short nap to recover), I'm also exhilarated and invigorated. And challenged. One of the things I loved (and still love) about yoga is how acutely aware of my body I become- my posture, alignment, breathing, reach, strength, etc, and I find that kind of self-awareness very calming. Plus it's all me- the poses don't rely on machines or weights- it's what my body is capable of and comfortable doing at that moment. Every yoga session is a challenge. How much further can I stretch? How much longer can I hold this position?

I have 9 more sessions to go and I'm determined to be feel a little less pummeled with each class. My body needs to first remember all the things it used to be able to do when I practiced yoga more regularly, and then it needs to get used to the whole heated room thing.

And then maybe it'll realize that I'm working hard to be good to it and wasn't trying to torture it into submission this morning...

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