tip of the day: wear fewer clothes
One of my goals at the moment is to gain some flexibility. For one who does gymnastics, I’m possibly the lease flexible person I know. I make the Tin Man look like Gumby. My cousin raves about Bikram yoga and so I promised myself that next time Groupon was offering a deal, I’d be in. One popped up the other week for 10 sessions at Bikram Yoga Wimbledon, so I grabbed it with both hands and trundled along this morning for my first session.
I was really nervous about it – would I be the only newbie? Would everyone be super-bendy? Would I like it? Would I feel nauseous? OMG would I faint? Would they be all cliquey? Would I be all lost?
Luckily, my fears were put to rest pretty quickly. I was met at the door by a bubbly person (frighteningly so for one who had to work on Easter Sunday) and given directions. I was to go upstairs, pick out a “clean” mat, lay it on the floor by a black line, put my towel on it and lie down. So far, so good.
My first impression walking in was “Boy it’s warm in here”. Perhaps I shouldn’t've been so surprised, but it is really really warm. It’s a damp heat as well, similar to a steam room, but some prescient soul has made the steam smell like mint. A good idea in a room where 30 people are about to sweat their socks off. I was pretty early, so by the time the class started I’d had 15 minutes to acclimatise and I was feeling pretty good.
The class itself follows a set pattern of 26 asanas, or poses which are carried out in order. You’re encouraged to get the posture right, and not to push yourself too hard. You’re also encouraged to stop if you feel like it’s too much, and to reset yourself so that you can keep going. The basic idea is to “stay in the room” for 90 minutes. What you do while you’re in there seems to be up to you, but the class itself consists of a Bikram-trained instructor dictating the moves while you move through them. The room is silent, other than his voice (and people moving and breathing) and you’re encouraged to focus only on the move, which in itself is really relaxing.
The moves themselves are:
I really liked the Savasana (number 13). Luckily I was really good at it too.
Generally, the poses weren’t too hard. I’d heard from a number of people that I’d feel really nauseous and dizzy throughout the class, and I was really worried about it, but actually, I didn’t feel unwell at all. The other newbies in the class seemed to though, as I saw most people sit out one or two poses. I have a feeling that my love of intense heat (I keep my office at about 31*C) might’ve helped …. oh and living in the Cayman Islands for so long in very similar heat probably meant that my tolerance was much higher. I did, however, desperately need the loo after about 45 minutes – I must be careful not to take their strictures to drink a litre of water before the class too literally. By the end I also had a crashing headache, but I think that was as a result of stopping drinking throughout due to said need to use the bathroom.
Small practicalities aside, the class was really good. It didn’t seem that hard, but my heart was beating up a storm by the end of some of the poses and I certainly did build up a nice – err – glow. Apparently the more muscular you are, the more you sweat. I must be really really muscular. I think I single-handedly raised the water levels in the South West London area by about 30%. Even my hair sweated. Here’s a picture of me at the end:
The main benefits, to me, were that I found it incredibly relaxing, the atmosphere was lovely and the people had a friendly vibe (the room was silent, so I can’t say for sure that they were friendly. Perhaps they weren’t. But it felt good). The downsides were that I was incredibly tired afterwards (for the rest of the day) and that the guy taking it, while good, did talk a lot which prevented me from really focussing on my poses and relaxing fully. I can also see it getting a bit boring after a bit because the classes literally follow the exact same format every time (apparently the variety comes from within yourself. I’m just not sure I have that much variety within me. I’m pretty shallow).
However, I’m really looking forward to going back. I can see how this wouldn’t be for everyone, because the room really is warm, and the poses are slow so they’re very intense. I’m also hoping that my flexibility increases through it, because today I didn’t feel like I was pushing my muscles like they needed to be pushed, but that was more because I was trying not to be the unco one who fell over. It was a risk.