Bikram / Hot Yoga Part III: Staying Power

Day 2:

On the way to Bikram

My head is clearer today. I drank a whopping quart of water before getting into my car. Yes, I would suggest you hydrate well BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER class. I also downed 16 ounces of one of my famous breakfast smoothies (my kids call it the monster green drink). Crammed with a variety of fruit, Kefir, spinach, protein, and whatever else I can find, it packs some punch and promises to boost my staying power this morning. It’s Saturday. I am ready for the Bikram sauna.

I’m dressed in less today. In Bikram less is better. Still donning my capris, I’ve replaced my strappy racer back top with a cute crisscross halter top I found at the back of my dresser drawer. I take a place right next to the door at the back of the class (convenient). Again, it is the only space left. I shut the door behind me and immediately the instructor, who is new to me, demonstrates the beginning breathing exercise. Again, this is the only demonstration we get during the whole class.

She starts into class with the exact routine and same verbiage (almost word for word) as the prior instructor. Spooky. McYoga. OK, I was expecting that really, but still caught me off guard. About half way through the first breathing exercise that claustrophobic feeling surfaces again. With good reason…there are twice as many people in the room today. Forty-four scantily clad participants in all. Focus Linda. I can’t see the mirror so I turn to my breath for reassurance that I am OK. Inhale, exhale, stay present, stay calm. Take it one pose at a time. This becomes my mantra for the rest of class.

I hear more of the instructions this time as I’m not so knocked out by the heat. In fact I’m feeling pretty good. The verbal cues include a lot of “push more, lock your knees” directives. Words, that, as a yoga instructor are not in my vocabulary. In my mind I take the words “push, push, push” and “lock your knees, lock your knees, lock your knees” and replace them with “stay present as you move deeper into the pose” and “find strength to hold yourself up. Support the pose.”

When you are working in a hot environment it is easy to get distracted and not pay attention to your muscles. They are limber. They can move further than your normal range of motion. Yes, this is good, but it also requires a spot check to make sure you are not pushing into your joints and going too deep into a pose without developing the muscular strength to hold it.

CAUTION: Error on the “not pushing to far side” for your first few classes. Allow time for your body to strengthen and get used to the poses. It’s easier to feel this balance of muscle strength and organic energy (or extending deeply) when the room is NOT heated.

I’m breezing through the warm up poses, the balancing sequence and standing postures. I have another quart of water in class with me and I have downed half of it already. As we move to the floor exercises the compound effects of my morning hydration turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I hadn’t counted on this. I have to use the restroom! Yeah! I am a genius! I WILL have to exit the room. Of course this far into class I am soaking wet. It’s like stepping out of a pool. If you’ve ever had to use the restroom when swimming, this is a similar scenario. I’m dripping wet, trying not to get the seat wet. My pants roll into a ball and make it hard to move fast. I’m not complaining though. Every minute of fresh air is worth it!

Hanging out after class with Bikram

I didn’t miss much. I slip back into class and onto my mat in under 2 minutes unnoticed. No Nazi Bikram Bouncers checking in on me.

I am able to do all 26 postures twice this class. My nausea is much less than the first class and I chalk it up to good hydration and a good night’s sleep. At the end of class when we are lying in Savasana and the door opens, that flood of fresh air feels like a messenger of heaven delivering water to parched lips stranded for days on a desert island. It’s a great feeling. And you forget that you ever were hot in the first place.

Recovery from class #2 is easier and I’m not as fatigued as the first time. Later in the evening I complete another 2 ½ hours of low key partner yoga combined with thai massage no problem.

How is your recovery from HOT yoga or BIKRAM? Do you have more energy or less?

 

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