A type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a very hot room.
I've been trucking along very happy with my yoga progress and felt I was enjoying and steadily improving with each session. That is until a good friend of mine invited me to join her in hell.
A simple innocent text sent me into a mental downward spiral.
"I'm off the booze so thinking Bikram Yoga Friday night - it scares the hell out of me, you keen?". My instant thought was there is a reason it scares you - followed by the dread that this text has now challenged me to move out of my comfort zone and support my friend in a nightmare scenario. Damn it - good friend or not I figured this was a very selfish move, in an attempt to keep herself out of the pub she has (probably unbeknown to her) tortured my soul, as you are now probably aware I can rarely refuse a challenge and there were 3 things glaringly wrong with this one in particular:
1) My Friday nights are either for going to the pub, socializing with friends, or vegging out at home with takeaway and good TV
2) Yoga is hard enough let alone attempting to partake in 90 minutes of excruciating stretches in 40 degree heat in a small room full of half naked bodies.
3) It scared the shit out of me
So naturally, considering all the above, I said OK.
I have been trying and practicing for many years to not worry about things. As one of my favorite quotes says "Worrying does not take away tomorrows troubles, it takes away today's peace" and I totally agree with this, so instead of worrying I have come to live off the nervous excitement, anticipation, adrenalin and dread instead. So as we tumbled into the studio (running slightly late and under prepared) we were giggling like nervous school children. We were barely through the door when my friend yelled at the shocked receptionist, "THIS IS OUR FIRST TIME", I could see all the half naked bodies turn to examine the new blood and I swear I saw a few of them laugh. "Oh God" I kept thinking "I don't know if I will actually be able to do this".
Mat on ground, towel on mat, powerade and water in arm distance, I am lying on the floor trying to accustom my breathing to this suffocating heat. Instead of worrying we take to nervously laughing at each other, trying to hide behind the pure terror I can see in both our eyes. Oh yes, I need to mention that whilst struggling to balance and perform a series of impossible poses and sweating uncontrollably, they have kindly put mirrors all around the room so you can see how amazing you look - or not in my case. Twenty minutes in I was reviewing myself in the mirror. My face was beetroot red, my eyes were bloodshot, my clothes were soaking, there was a droplet of sweat hanging from my nose and I was shaking manically on one leg when the instructor bellows "look at your reflection, make eye contact and find the strength from within yourself" I had to look within because I certainly wasn't inspired by looking at the exterior of myself!
I think the scariest part of the entire ordeal was the instructor - who didn't do any of the moves instead just barked the orders. She was also a little mental. She was Hitler on Mushrooms! At one point, when I had finally managed to balance and steady myself into the bendy weird triangle pose (obviously that's not whats is actually called its probably called the Deathly Praying Mantis or something similar) she instructed us, without moving to to sing Happy Birthday to someone called Beth. I hope Beth appreciated it (whoever she was) because it was bloody hard to concentrate on your body and then try and produce words - then just when I thought it couldn't get any stranger we had to perform the Reverse Deathly Praying Mantis pose and sing "if your happy and you know it clap your hands" - I couldn't clap, mostly because I couldn't move AND because it would have been a lie - I felt many emotions but not happy.
I also have failed to mention the most horrific part - less than 5 minutes into the class I let out 2 gigantically loud farts. I'm not proud of this but it happened. After watching Jack Ass many years ago and remembering a farting yoga scene, since I have started practicing yoga I have been listening intently in all my classes to see if this actually happens. I was relieved when after 6 classes I decided it was a myth. This time however I soon learned that the missing ingredient is heat. Slightly mortified I spent the next 85 minutes performing poses whilst squeezing my butt cheeks together as hard as I could to ensure there were no more slippages from me for the rest of the class.
Now after reading my rant you may conclude that it was a god awful experience that I will never inflict upon myself again. You would be wrong. It was such a difficult and odd class that I actually felt I survived something terrible and achieved a new status in myself. After an hour and half of intense heat and stretching, walking out into the cold reality of life felt amazing! Honestly for a couple of hours afterwards I felt invisible, I swear my skin also felt great and the shower to wash away the grossness was such a necessary joy! So despite all the negative points I have raised above I will definitely be attempting this again