As if enduring 90-degree heat (34C) outside wasn’t enough, I decided to sit in a room at temperatures of 105 (41C) tonight while attempting to contort in a number of painful, painful poses: Today’s the day I took on Bikram yoga.
Before this blog, I used to take yoga classes sporadically, but I’d never been brave enough to try Bikram. But after a week of pizza, poutine and beer, I thought it was about time I took an exercise class.
The idea is simple: Yoga with the heat turned way, way up. It means that you wear very little and sweat an unfathomable amount. Before heading to the class, I made sure I was hydrated with plenty of cups of water throughout the afternoon.
I took the class with Nick at Bikram Yoga LES, which is on Stanton and Allen. The lesson was open for all levels, but I was the only complete beginner, which earned me the name ‘First Time’ from a Speedos-wearing Nick. (Why is it that the U.K. calls them Speedos, but the U.S. calls them a Speedo?)
The room was so hot that I was sweating before class even started. But I quickly realised that this was not the sort of place you should care about a dribble or two of sweat; bodies were visibly dripping and tiny shorts soaked through.
We started with breathing exercises before moving through the poses; the first were on our feet, the later ones on the ground. I’d not done a lot of them before and – rather than the heat – this was the real challenge for me. But as I contorted unnaturally into the Eagle Pose and the Toe Stand, I ignored the pains and powered through the shakes, even earning a few ‘Well done First Time!’s from Nick.
He was a brilliant instructor – very upbeat and encouraging. And his crescendoing ‘reach, reach, reach!’ commands really pushed us.
And when I left, the feeling was so satisfying. In a bizarre way, I noticed that sweating that much in public – and it being entirely accepted – broke down some sort of self-conscious barrier in me. While I’d brought a change of clothes, I decided to walk the 15 blocks north wearing my tiny shorts and vest, which is something I’d never usually feel comfortable doing. But the workout just made me feel so good and so un-self-conscious. Lucky streets of New York, eh.
Like all exercise classes in the city, this is pricey ($25), but it was one of the most satisfying ones I have taken. I loved how relaxed I felt afterwards. And I’m pretty sure I worked off at least a couple of those poutine fries.