Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bikram Yoga - Capitol Hill is a lot like Hell

I don't know why I'm thinking about Hell lately, but I've got another installment today.

Since returning to the US, Mrs. Expat Teacher and I have both gained 10 lbs in 6 months. (America is such a fat nation!), so we decided to join the local gym. Unfortunately, the only thing near us is a Bikram Yoga studio.

The Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill studio offers a one-week unlimited pass for $20, so we thought we'd check it out. If you remember, I'm a fan of Pilates and figured that Yoga would be similar. If you aren't familiar with Bikram-style Yoga, here is what the website promises: Bikram Yoga is a series of twenty-six Hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises performed in a heated room suitable for all ages and levels of ability.

The series was scientifically crafted by Bikram Choudhri to stretch and strengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Bikram Yoga systematically moves fresh, oxygenated blood to every part of the body, stimulating organs, glands, and nerves, and restoring all systems to healthy working order.

Bikram designed this 90-minute class to prevent illness, heal injuries, promote weight loss and detoxification, while reducing the effects of aging. Proper muscle tone, increased flexibilty, vibrant good health, and a sense of well-being are just a few of the benefits of practicing Bikram Yoga.

It isn't fun. It is a lot like Hell.

Let's remember that not a lot is known about Hell, other than it will lack all good things.
Let the list begin...
  1. It is hot! 110 degrees hot, plus the heat from your body's workout. I'm not sure Hell is hot in the traditional sense, but as someone who never has trouble being warm, but HATES overheating, Bikram isn't good.
  2. The postures are difficult and frustrating. I know that starting anything new can be frustrating, but when the instructor says, "You should feel this in your right quadracep." and I'm feeling pain in my left hip flexor, something is going wrong. I'm frustrated because I'm not working what I should be and I'm in pain anyway. There is simply no satisfaction.
  3. The class goes on and on. 90 minutes is about 25 minutes too long for me. I need to get out into the cooler air and am running out steam, but we still have more time to go. It feels almost never ending.
  4. The postures have names in Hindi, that I can't understand. That doesn't bother me much, but the instructor is telling us this to help us visualize the posture. Does Utkatasana mean anything to you?
  5. In our studio, the instructor can't be heard 100% of the time. I know I should be doing something, but I don't know what it is. It is an amazing sense of futility.
  6. No one talks. 20 people in a room and not a soul talks. I imagine Hell will be quiet like that.
  7. Just as we get rest, we have another demanding posture to start. I know the purpose is to work out our bodies and keep our heart rate up, but when your body wants a rest and it can't be had, that's exhausting and isolating. I imagine Hell will be like that, too.

After 90 minutes in 110 degree heat, I know EXACTLY where the Rich Man is coming from. "So [the Rich Man] called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' AND "[the Rich Man] answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

Let this be your warning. Stay away from Bikram Yoga. It is a lot like Hell.