No, this is not about a book – although it sounds like a good title for one. It’s what came out of my Bikram instructor’s mouth today during the Saturday 8AM class. You see, the heat broke on Friday. So instead of hot yoga (or hot yogurt, as my husband likes to refer to it), it was just mildly stuffy yoga.
Things happen for a reason, I do not doubt. I’m actually quite grateful for 85 degree (F) yoga we have until Monday.
I am coming off an injury (again).
It’s the connector hamstring – I did something alarming to it during an unusually enthusiastic game of whirlpool sploosh-ball wars with my son. What is a whirlpool sploosh-ball war you ask? Well, it’s played in a round pool with about 18 sploosh-balls. We put the ladder in the middle of the pool (it’s an above ground kind) and start a whirlpool going. As we do that we bean each other with sploosh-balls at a high velocity. The only real rule (besides no direct smashes to the face) is that you have to keep going in a circle. I like to run as fast as I can around the 18′ pool – and in this instance, I slipped forward and felt something pop right under my butt. It was totally an “OH MY FREAKIN’ GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE??” kind of moment. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about going to hot Yoga because I tend to be a bit on the rubber-bandy side and the heat just makes me more stretchy. So I was worried about how to hold back.
But working thru the routine in a warm (or cold room as Bonnie, the instructor, called it) was a god-send.
Bonnie brought, as a joke, some mittens and a scarf – and she would drape it around someone’s neck if they were sneezing. The joke was who would get the shawl (scarf) for camel pose. We were a little goofy in class today –
Overall – we’re kind of goofy regardless of the actual temperature. That’s one of the things I really love about this particular studio – Yoga Vida in Tucson, AZ.
All of the instructors are amazing and attuned to the participants in the class. There is no forcing of movement for those that are not ready – there is always encouragement and gentle correction if you’re the kind of student that wants it. And if you’re me, some abject humiliation with a smile.
When I started Bikram Yoga, it was with trepidation. A friend had warned me it was a silent practice, no talking (I’m a chatterbox, I don’t deny it), no extraneous chatter from the instructor, very serious, hot room, focus, don’t stand in the front etc, etc, etc. I went to the studio on a Saturday morning at 7:30AM, plenty of time to get into the right head space before the 8AM class began. I waited in line to get set up – and a voice rapidly fired the following questions to me:
Bonnie: Have you been here before?
Bonnie: Do you know it’s hot?
Bonnie: Do you know it’s 90 minutes?
Me: Yes (I was getting nervous, because I didn’t know there were test questions to answer before being admitted into the sacred, hot, silent room)
Bonnie: Did you bring a towel?
Bonnie: A really big towel?
Bonnie: Did you bring water?
Bonnie: Ok – you’re in!
This is when the big smile came. And I knew I was in like Flynn.
So in I go – with the warning that it was silent (there’s a picture of a guy with the ‘shush’ finger on the hot room’s door) and don’t stand in the front. No worries – I headed RIGHT to the back.
I was early – and it was fascinating to watch the room fill with about 30 bodies – it was hot and humid – so I just followed the others and laid down to get myself ready.
Bonnie comes in like a powerhouse and starts to talk – she points out that I’m new and welcomes me. I’m terrified to even respond with my voice. Then she asks me about my last name – how do you pronounce it. I’m shocked because this would require me to SPEAK. My friend said NO TALKING…but I pronounced it. She said “oh, what an interesting last name, is it Italian and what does it mean?” Uh-oh…I dreaded answering that particular question in this ‘serious’ atmoshere; so in a very little voice I stated that it was actually German and Old Icelandic…and that it meant illegitimate male child – yes, my last name means “Bastard”…. the entire class erupted into laughter. Bonnie laughed and started the class. She spoke the ENTIRE time. I don’t know what my friend was on about; there was NOTHING silent about the class AT ALL. But it was was freakin’ spectacular (ok – the silent part is from the students). I was hooked within the first 10 minutes.
I have since been going back for a 4-5 times a week practice for that last two months. I have even started to refer to it as ‘my practice’ – which makes me a bona fide Bikram Yoga geek.
I love everything about it. As I round the corner of the building on my bike I start to smell the incense that they burn in a planter outside. At the front desk, I am greeted by name and there’s a little chitchat. I get my place in the hot room – I even love the smell of the hot room. It’s got a funk that I can’t quite describe but I like it. It smells right.
And I love the instruction – all the visualizations that each instructor uses. A place for my mind to focus on whilst I contort myself into postures with sweat running out of every pore in my body. I never have to go beyond 90 minutes – but I can work as hard or easy as I need to for that given time – and then later I can just do it again. Unlike running or lifting weights, you always have to go farther, longer, harder etc – with Bikram, all I need is 90 minutes. There are so many things to work on in each posture – it is never static. Ever. I love that – I work harder within my practice not longer within the day. That is something sustainable that I can do over the course of my life.
I have to talk a little about the instructors. They are all amazing. Each one brings something different to my practice – even though the routine of the series is the same – the thing each instructor emphasis is completely different – and having a mix of them allows me to glean a variety of ways to think about my pose and move within it. They all bring out the best in me – they make me want to do the poses as thoughtfully and well as I can.
Bonnie – she’s the owner and is a dynamic woman who reminds me of a nice version of Jillian Michaels. She’s all about stretching from the waist – her classes make me feel powerful and energized. She’s also very funny – any new student would do well to have her for their introduction class.
Greg – I love his class. Greg is light, thin and muscular – a dancer’s body for sure. He has a soft voice with a calm presence. For whatever reason, his classes make me SWEAT – and often times I’m rather stenchy afterwards – maybe he’s a toxin-whisperer…. I like to think of him as “Greg-Maybe-You-Can-Get-There-And-Maybe-You-Cannot-And-That’s-OK” – but he always encourages you to find a little more within yourself. And you want to.
Chris – I also love his classes (ok – I love them ALL). He sort of has a runner’s body. Long and lean as well. Chris is all about being mindful and finding space. He brings out my limber-self. I’m jealous of the space he has in his torso region. I laugh when we do a pose that requires our bellies to rest on our thighs and he always says “If your belly has disconnected from your thighs – put it back” – I can’t imagine them NOT staying connected when I’m folded forward. I guess I have more belly because mine birthed a baby and his did not. The thighs? I got nothing – I’m a well-thighed lady… I also like his voice – It’s easy to just get into what he’s saying and move along.
Jodi – at first I was a little intimidated by her class – she’s smaller than me (I’m only 5’4″) and there’s not an extra ounce of fat on her muscular physique – and she’s powerful. If Jody says put your forehead to your knee, you wouldn’t imagine not doing it. You just wouldn’t. And don’t even think of letting someone into the after class starts – woe unto you if you do. I now love her class – she makes me want to BE better.
And last but not least – Bridgette. She is great at explaining just how to lift your arches – because without her I’d have had no idea. I always giggle a little when she tells us to put our feet together, heels and big toes touching and thighs if we can. IF WE CAN? My thighs absolutely touch when my heels touch…even when my heels aren’t touching….I wish I could fit a boat through the space between my thighs, hell, I’d even be happy to have enough space for a sheet of paper, but alas, that is not in my reality.
So what’s the point exactly? Wasn’t this about a shawl for a camel ~ not really. It was just the segue to talk about how much I love Bikram and what each instructor brings to the table.
As a side note, my friend is HORRIFIED that not only do I talk to the instructors but that I talk to the other students in the changing room. I can’t help it – I’m a social beast.