a little and a lot

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Darling, I Don't Know Why I Go to Extremes

Billy Joel, anyone, eh?

Ok, this post is dedicated to this month's new thing: Bikram Yoga.  

Bikram Yoga (sometimes referred to as "hot yoga") was designed (by some guy whose first name is Bikram) to "systematically stimulate and restore health to every muscle, joint, and organ of the body. "  It is "scientifically formulated to regenerate tissue and cure chronic ailments."  Sounds great, right?  Well, here is the kicker: you perform 26 postures over a period of 90 minutes in a room that is heated to over 100 degrees.  

What the heck, Jesse?  I know you're asking it.  Why do you have to be so extreme?  First, a marathon, now 100 degree yoga?  What is your problem?  

Well, the answer to those questions are: 
1. I don't know.
2. I have always been kind of an extreme person.  
3. See next paragraph...

I did a major no-no when training for my marathon.  I did not strength train, and I did not stretch.  Ok, yes, I did like 5 lunges after a run and called it stretching, but that did not really count.  At the time, my excuse was: Um, excuse me but I just ran for 3 hours and you want me to spend another 30 minutes stretching?  No thanks.  As a result, my muscles were trained to run longer mileages but in a very unflexible nature.  They are so tight it is ridiculous.  

I was getting a massage not too long ago (a gift for my half-birthday, holla to my awesome husband!), and the masseuse was incorporating some stretching into my massage.  She was pushing up on my leg to stretch my hamstring, and she said, "Um...is this as far as it usually goes?"  It was at this point that I realized that my muscles were not doing too hot these days.  

Every time I had run since the marathon, my muscles were in pain.  My joints were in pain.  They made me believe they were just going to give out on me.  

So, it was time.  Yoga was the answer--I needed some guided stretching.  I decided to focus a whole month on this process and cut down on the running.  

Yoga is expensive--this is the downside.  So when I found out that the Bikram Yoga center (3 minutes from my house) offered a $29 intro fee for your first month of yoga--unlimited...?  I figured it was now or never...  (To illustrate what a great deal that is: normal cost of Bikram Yoga is about $120 for 10 sessions.  Cha-ching!)  

Yesterday was my first day.  And it kiiiiiiiicked my butt.  I will not clean that sentence up, because it did not kick my hiney...it kicked my butt.  As soon as I walked into the yoga room, the hot air enveloped my face and my body and swept into my nostrils.  You start out with breathing exercises.  No problem, right?  Wrong, even the breathing exercises had me starting to sweat with the intensity of a pig.  (Pigs sweat, right?)  I felt like a fountain, sweat was just gushing out of me.  I stood and followed the first few sets of poses.  Then I started to black out.  So I sat down.  For about 30 minutes of class...ha!  Focus on your breathing, the instructor constantly told us.  (You are only "allowed" to breath through your nose--difficult when you become out of breath!)  The last half of the class is done from the mat, and you get to rest on your back (in the "corpse pose") between every set--now this is more my speed!  I participated as faithfully as I could.  (Oh, and PS: this is not the type of class where there is serene music playing and the teacher is talking in slow-motion, very softly.  The verbal cues for this class are quick and fast-paced and there is no background sound but for everyone breathing through their noses.)  By the end of the class, my clothes were soaked through with sweat, my hair was dripping wet as if I had just taken a shower, and my towel (on top of my mat) was soaked through as well.  Talk about detox!  

I couldn't decide how I felt about it when I came home.  I was so worn out and overwhelmed!  But I also felt very rejuvenated.  Well, I had paid for an unlimited month, and I had told myself I would go 5 days a week...so I was in this whether I liked it or not!  All of the instructions say that it's normal to feel woozy for the first few classes.  It's normal to not be able to participate in the full class for a while.  This is what kept me from feeling like a full-blown loser.  

I'm interested to see what will be different by the end of the month.  Will I have abs of steel?  Will I be able to put my feet behind my head?  Will I be able to merely stand in that room for more than 2 minutes without feeling like I will pass out?  I figure anything will be a step in a positive direction.  Until then, I am drinking water like a camel.


Unknown said...

I've oft considered taking this up but have been scared away, time and again, but the hefty price tag.

What, may I ask, will you do if you absolutely fall in love with this type of yoga, and can't live without it after your unlimited month is up?

Martha said...

I wish I could sign up for this. It sounds awesome. Maybe I can do it for the month of March. Up for the 6:30pm class?

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