super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others

Some like it hot (the yoga, that is)

22 Comments

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The 26 poses of Bikram yoga

(image source: a bunch of different people on pinterest)

I signed up for a 24/7 gym two years ago so I could go to the gym at really late hours when there’s almost no one there. I loathe group gym classes. Actually, loathe is not a strong enough word. Group gym classes bring out my murderous side. I’m one uncoordinated monkey crashing an otherwise perfectly synchronized choreography. It’s not pretty. So my return to Bikram Yoga today, after over a year of absence, was as inexplicable as it was sweaty.

I went through a period of regularly going to Bikram sessions a couple of years ago (go figure) but then the whole exercising in a pool of my own sweat while inhaling other people’s BO thing kind of got a bit old and so I swapped it for the gym instead (where I exercise in a smaller pool of my own sweat but still smell other people’s BO. But no, really, working out is great. Really really).

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My yoga routine in the last year or so

My last Bikram session was back in November 2011, according to the nice lady behind the studio counter today (was that a judgmental look on her face when she said the date? I think it was). That last time was after my second half marathon. It felt good at the time but summer was just starting and the whole hot room thing wasn’t so attractive anymore. I thought I’d return to Bikram in winter, as a complement to my running, but then winter came around and I chose running as a complement to running. It’s really not hard to talk oneself out of spending 90 minutes working out inside a 40 degree room.

However, my muscles have been kind of stiff lately and I’ve noticed I’m not as flexible anymore so I thought this was a good excuse to go back and see if it really is true that yoga fixes the bad things running does to you. Regular yoga bores me senseless, unfortunately, so it was back to the Bikram studio for me today.

Most of the poses did feel a bit like the description in the top image but I’m convinced that’s because of the amount of time that’s gone by since my last session and also because my muscles are still recovering from last weekend’s long run.

Most of all, it felt like one massive stretching session. And it hurt really damn good, the way stretching after a long run does. Some of those who preach the benefits of bikram for runners also mention that it helps increase stamina and lung capacity. If that’s true, see you at the next available slot for another bikram session. Controlling my breathing is still one of my main problems when running so if there’s a fairly easy way to fix that then Namaste.

I’m by no means a yogi. There’s nothing zen about it for me and I’ve never been able to get “in the zone” during yoga (that’s something I can only do while running). I was mentally making my shopping list at one point during class. But it’s hard work. Really freaking hard work, for a considerable amount of time. You can’t convince me that’s not a good thing.

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22 thoughts on “Some like it hot (the yoga, that is)

  1. oddly, despite all of the descriptions of sweat, you make me want to find a yoga class…and i actually really rather hate sweating.

  2. I have not tried hot yoga, but actually you have inspired me to go back for a class. It has been over a year since I was in a yoga studio. Great post…love your sense of humor!

    • Thanks, Pam! Hope you go back to the yoga studio and really enjoy it! I didn’t know what to expect, after so many months away (and so much running in those months) but it was really positive. :)

  3. as I started the opposite way: yoga first, running after, I have the perfect notion of how breathing correctly is sooooo important! I am guessing if it wasn’t for my yoga (swásthya) lessons I wouldn’t be able to run (even if it is only for a brief moment)

    • Yep, I think the biggest benefit I’ll get out of this will definitely be the breathing. My lungs are by far the weakest part of my body so I really need to invest a bit more time in training them.

  4. It is definitely a workout, probably the hardest thing i’ve ever done! Although i rarely manage to be in the zone, i sometimes manage to think about things other than stressing about the positions that i know i struggle more with (i definitely get out of the zone in the dead man position though!). I’m getting way better with the stressing out bit and can now, most times at least, concentrate solely on what i’m supposed to be doing. Maybe this is what it means to be in the zone? Or maybe it’s just a way not to burst out crying or mess with my hamstrings again! Anyways, i think i’m going to give traditional yoga a try for a while after my bikram membership expires in a few months. I used to think exactly like you – boring yoga! But now i’m doing it with a friend, who’s an instructor, and it’s really great!

    As for running, definitely not in the zone when it comes to me. I totally and unabashedly admit to be pea green with envy when it comes to your running achievements (and, equally, super happy for and proud of you!). I still, for the most part, hate running. I manage to trick my head into actually thinking about some positive things while i’m running but i get no pleasure out of it ‘during’ it, if you know what i mean. Only after running do i feel pleasure (but i feel the same after Bikram and, as hard as it is, i don’t dislike it as i dislike running). I’d love to get to this zone that all runners talk about but i don’t know how much more i need to run to get there. I have no desire to run a half/ full marathon or entering competitions so not too sure. Did the challenge make you love running more in itself, or because you just had to run more and ended up really liking it?

    • Both running and yoga are not for everyone, I guess. And, especially in the case of bikram, they can often be a “love it or hate it” kind of deal. I love running (in case that’s not entirely obvious) and I really enjoy bikram (especially the after effect) but I have no big feelings towards regular yoga. Maybe doing it with a friend, in a more relaxing environment (full classrooms fail to relax me) would help.

      I’m not entirely sure I know the answer to your question. I think it was a bit of both. I had to run more because I had a big goal ahead and the more I ran, the easier (and more enjoyable) it got. So, yeah, both. :)

      • Yeah, it’s definitely a love or hate situation when it comes to bikram. I guess i love it then because i definitely don’t hate it. It’s tough, incredibly tough if you, like me, have low blood pressure. But the effect it has on your body is absolutely amazing! My breathing also got increasingly better so i hope you improve it too.

        In a way, there’s plenty of scope for enjoyment when it comes to running. It’s demanding, physically and mentally speaking, but you can really tackle the physical part with continuity. With bikram, it sort of gets better with time but any alteration in your body and/or emotional state and you can go from a great session to one when you only want to cry. I’m keeping my fingers crossed with running! Even though i only run occasionally (when compared to you) i hope i learn to like it more and more :)

  5. I tried Bikram precisely twice. The first time was awesome and I couldn’t wait to go back. The second time there were twice as many people in the room and I knew what poses we still had yet to do so I found myself counting down and dreading getting to the floor poses. However, I’m cool with regular yoga, so I’m sticking with it!

  6. Yay! I love Bikram! I’m so glad to read this post. Oh and your photo on here cracks me up! So funny and true!

  7. Yes, i’m going to still the photo, can i? :)

  8. I cannot. Really. I do regular yoga, but the whole hot room thing would kill me. Kill me dead. I’ve never understood the whole sauna thing, either.

    But it’s fun to read about:)

    Good for you getting back into it. Sounds like the lady behind the counter has a little latent uppity librarian rolling around in there…

    Thanks for checking out blog#2 and for the follow (again)!! See ya, Super G!

  9. There is a groupon for Bikram yoga in Vancouver that I’m thinking of trying out, and instead of scaring me I think your post pushed me in that direction! I have until September to activate it, so it mixes my fear of Bikram, my tendency to procrastinate, and my desire to do yoga together all at once. Also gives me about 8 months to get over this cold that wont go away!

  10. Maybe it sounds vane, but I quit doing hot yoga, because I have this fear that the heat may cause premature wrinkling. (oh yeah like the occasional smoking won’t) but I already do enough unhealthy things, don’t need to contribute more to it!

  11. Pingback: The Mind is A Powerful Thing | That Girl Shannon

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