Monday, February 28, 2011

I Can See the Finish!

So, I followed my better judgement and decided to skip Bikram Friday night. I replaced Bikram that night with a pasttime (I consider as necessary) that I seldom have time to partake in, gay clubbing with my friends. We had a great time and I heard too many renditions of Gaga's new song, Born this Way, including an entertaining drag show performing it. And no, I'm not gay, but I enjoy dancing freely and not feeling like a piece of raw meat in a pond of sharks (that is a reference to my Thursday night at a straight club). Yes, I went out two nights in a row, no, I didn't plan it, and yes, it probably won't happen again for a loooooong time. I never even did that in college.

Oh yes, the finish! So, after I recuperated from my outings I managed to attend Bikram Sat and Sun. Which means I am well on my way to finishing this challenge successful. I can't wait! On the flip side this means that my month-long intro membership is expiring Wednesday and I will have to start shoveling out big bucks to support this yoga habit. I keep trying to reason through this decision, but I'm pretty sure I'm signing up for atleast the month of March. I will reevaluate this fiscal decision on a monthy basis.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Should I go today?

Since starting Bikram last month I have sorta warped into a daily Bikram student.

A week after my week-long trial expired I found another Bikram studio near my house with a cheap month long intro and signed up on Janurary 31st. Lucky for me the studio was about to begin a 30 day challenge from February 1st to March 2nd. It is at that moment that I made a choice to attend atleast 6 classes a week. This would work out in my favor because the terms of the studio's challenge were that all who wished to qualify for prizes must complete atleast 25 practices in 30 days. This would be completely doable, and it has been so far. 25 days into the challenge and I have gone to Bikram 20 times. If I go Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed (March 2nd) I can achieve the goal. So I really don't need to go today. I'm not debating whether or not to go because of laziness or other plans. I legitimately made some mistakes today that would make Bikram detrimental to my body and potentially my classmates. Today for lunch my office took a field trip to an Indian Buffet downtown. I generally do not eat at buffets. They don't interest me because of the excessiveness and food containers exposed to other patrons. In particular for this month of Bikram I have made a point of eating very light, nutritous lunches, in order to facilitate a better evening practice. But today I was faced with an Indian Buffet. "Indian" in this case cancelled out all the preconceived notions I had of Buffets of the past because 1)I have never eaten Indian food, 2) I looove trying new foods, and 3) This place felt more like a restaurant than a buffet. So, I found absolutely no dilemna with gently sampling almost every dish on my first plate and returning to my favorite 3 out of 10 dishes on my second plate (with bread). I even finalied with a generous bowl of rice pudding, which absolutely blew my tastebuds' expectations out of the water. So as you can see, I spent the better part of the afternoon having too much fun eating and now I fear I cannot digest fast enough to confidently perform a Bikram routine this evening without jeopardizing my reputation for not throwing up in a Bikram class. I just feel it would be reckless for me to even attempt group exercise in these circumstances. I guess I have made up my mind. But I will finish this challenge strong (Sat - Wed).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My first experience with Bikram's torture

Last month, I attended my first Bikram class downtown on a week-long intro special. I went 3 times that week.

The first time I attended a Bikram class I approached it thinking "well I've done yoga many times before, so I should have no problem with this Bikram stuff." I was mistaken from the first breathing exercise. The synchronization of arms, head, breathing, AND my elbows are supposed to touch?! I hate multitasking choreography, that's why I do yoga! If the first breathing exercise was any indication of things to come I was in a for a complicated 87 more minutes. Luckily the rest of the standing series relatively reassembled other forms of yoga I've done. Even luckier that it was my first ever Bikram class and I took to heart the instructions to first timers; breathe (difficult) and stay in the room (more difficult), everything else is optional (phew! thank god). Let me add that I absolutely abhor excessive heat, summertime and otherwise. I tend to get irritable and cranky with prolonged exposure to humid heat. I have only had one experience that could compare with the environment of Bikram. It was the summer day I rode through Sixflags Safari with JW and we were instructed to keep our windows shut because we were surrounded by potentially dangerous animals. Did I mention it was summertime and our car had no AC? We were torn between driving faster (potentially hitting another species) to get out of the hell we created for ourselves and losing the experience of leisurely enjoying the sight of exotic animals in their "natural" habitat. We opted for the latter and I basically looked exactly like I had just come out of a Bikram class (angry).

Back to the yoga. I've never been one to give up during a physical challenge, so I can say that I actively made an attempt (however absolutely wrong) at every posture of the series.

I was duped.

The two minute savasana between standing and spine strengthening series tricked my yoga intuition. In all other yoga classes I've attended savasana generally means "almost over, relaxed stretching time, ie. no more challenges." But in Bikram the two minute savasana is more like "half-time" or really "third-time" because there is still lots of effort to put forth to finish strong. Uggggh, and then the 20 second savasana in between every posture had me thinking "Okay, this is it. You can't possibly have me relax for 20 more secs and then expect me to apply full effort again." But that is exactly what happened after every innumerable sit-up and muscle engaging stretch. So needless to say, the floor series had my mind boggled until the final savasana.

My first victory, and battle scars.

Coming out of my first Bikram class I felt a bit out of sorts. Like I had just been to battle with a flamethrower. My body was soaked, hair a mess, throat dry and kind of icky. I wanted to limit my movement as much as possible for fear that another muscle burn that day. When I got home I was convinced I had a fever and my throat continued to feel funny into the next day. I just kept trying to analyze my senses to figure out what virus I had caught in that humid germ breeding studio room. What I had caught- was a load of excuses. I didn't return the next day as they recommend ("for full benefits") because I made excuses about the practice making me sick.

Curiosity brought me back.

At some point during my first class I told myself "self, congrats for getting this far, if you can finish this class decently I promise, heck, I swear on iPhone that I will never think or suggest attempting this Bikram hellhole ever again." The weekend came and I fell into a monotony of lazy weekend activities. And then the thought hit me Sunday morning. "What if I went to just one more Bikram class? I mean, just to see what all the hoopla is about returning. They did say improvements would be noticeable after just one practice...hmmm" I went back to Bikram that afternoon as a personal experiment to dispel the claims that each class improves you. At least that's what I kept telling my self. The reality is there was another layer to my thought process that day. Part of me, after the ill sensations subsided, decided that my first Bikram class was fun, intriguing, challenging, and fun (oh god, why?). From then onward I approached each class with varied intentions depending on my feelings. Usually I resolved to just engage, not expect miracles and see where it gets me. Other days I set little goals of which directions to follow better (suck in stomach, weight on heels, come up more on the toes etc).