Warming up to Bikram Yoga
By Lauren Johnson
I am no wilting flower.
If you want to go kayaking with me, be prepared to go around the entire lake. Twice.
If you want to go hiking, get ready to take the steepest route.
95 degrees out? Sure, I’d love to play a few sets of tennis. Then go biking.
I love a good physical challenge. So when Adrienne, our tough-cookie intern told me about the Bikram (hot yoga) class she recently took, I thought “sure, why not?”
I called up another Iron Woman friend of mine and we set off to Point Pleasant, PA to Riverflow Yoga.
When we arrived, people were bustling in, towels and water bottles in hand. I scanned the sizable crowd and thought to myself “If there’re this many people, hot yoga can’t be that tough.”
We were led into the studio, which, for the most part, looked like an average yoga studio, save for the electric stove in the corner, with an enormous green vacuum-ish contraption next to it (which I later found out was a giant humidifier).
As everyone laid their yoga mats out (with a big towel on top), our instructor, Rhonda Uretzky (who is also the owner), came in and indicated that this was a “no talking space,” and to “sit still and begin getting used to the heat.” Cue electric stove and humidifier.
Cue human sprinkler system.
About 15 minutes into the class, I began thinking about how nice it would be to step outside and get a little fresh air…
I kaboshed this thought, and let out a deep exhalation to clear my mind.
“No breathing out of the mouth!” Rhonda told me firmly, “if you breathe out of your mouth, it simulates panic.”
So I closed my mouth, flared my nostrils, and took a deep breath in. I took her instruction and focused on my breathing. I blocked out the thick hot air and sweat puddles forming around me. To my surprise, I began to feel calmer, and maybe even a little cooler.
For the next 90 minutes, Rhonda led the class through a series of 26 poses that are meant to restore every muscle, joint, and organ of the body.
After the 26th pose, we lay in savasana (corpse pose) until we were ready to get up. I ended up being one of the last people to get up – not in defeat – but because I felt awesome. All that hard work (and sweat!) left me feeling elated, flexible, relaxed, and refreshed. As vigorous as it is, the payoff is well worth the persistence.
Would I do it again? Sure, I’ll race you there.