(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).
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.