My very first yoga class was Bikram at Lehmann's Athletic Club in 2000. It was the 26 poses and my teacher, Liz, would bring space heaters. I went every Sunday and think it might have been how I fell in love with yoga.
According to bikramyoga.com:
Bikram Yoga is the 26 postures Sequence selected and developed by Bikram Choudhury from Hatha Yoga.
It has been proved and experienced by millions that these 26 postures systematically work every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function. Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits.
When I went through my training I realized yoga isn't about passing out and feeling terrible. Since then I've gone to Bikram classes every few years, as it is my sister's preferred form of yoga.
I cannot remember the last time I went, before yesterday. It was the middle of a blizzard and I was stir crazy when I agreed to go; even shoveling my car and driving through unplowed streets to get there.
From the moment I walked into the 110-degree room I hated it. I hated every minute of it. I'm aware hate is not a very yogic word and I try not to use it often, but it was clear this was not the yoga class for me.
The room was stark and white with mirrors as if we were expected to stare and analyze ours and others barely naked bodies. The teacher stood on a stage and from her first words, I did not care for her vibe.
Despite all of this, I started the class with an open mind (or I did my best.) I usually enjoy to take different types of classes and always seem to learn something to take back to my practice.
This class seemed backwards from many of the principles I believe in. Each pose was timed and when I slowly came out of one before the teacher indicated, she rudely snapped, "You must stay in it for the entire minute."
In triangle pose, I was told I was doing it wrong, as apparently the knee needs to be bent and my hand should not touch the floor.
What bothered me the most is the teacher repeatedly reminded us to lock our knees and said, "The pose has not begun until the knee is locked."
That is against everything I have learned in my yoga studies. To be honest, my knees hurt after class.
It didn't feel comfortable and the poses did not flow. Between each seated pose we rolled over to our back for a short rest that seemed awkward and the fluorescent lights burned my eyes.
The sweat was out of control. Every inch of my body and clothes were drenched. That part I don't mind that much as it does feel cleansing to release the toxins from the body, but I would rather do that at 85 degrees instead of 110.
Just to throw one more negative in the pot, the founder Birkram Choudhury has been charged with alleged rape, sexual assault and racism in explosive lawsuit.
I'm still glad I went to that class, my last Bikram class. Props to those that benefit and enjoy this form of yoga. For me, I prefer to be in my warm and comfortable space where we are given options and reminded to push our bodies to the spot that feels right.
Have you gone to Bikram Yoga? Will you every go back?
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