A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I decided to try hot yoga. After hearing my friend's enthusiastic tales of her friends' losing weight, being fit and having amazing skin, I thought it might be something I would like. I don't need to lose weight, be more fit or have better skin but I would like to be more flexible. Playing soccer is not conducive to flexibility.
We decided to try Bikram Yoga in Bellevue
because they offered a week's worth of hot yoga for $20.00. I carefully read the instructions for First Timers that discussed when to arrive, what to wear, to hydrate and to not leave the room if you're feeling light headed or nauseous. The "light headed or nauseous" part made me a little nervous.
The facility is nice really; set in an office park off of 120th street in Bellevue near my beloved Whole Foods. It's nicely decorated with a welcome desk where you're greeted and given an intake form to fill out. If you don't have your own mat or towel, you can rent one. There is a peculiar smell as you walk in the door. It wasn't until later I recognized it as the faint, deodorized smell of sweaty bodies & equipment.
There's nothing like torturing your body in a room heated to 105 degrees with 50% humidity. As newcomers we were encouraged to be toward the back of the room so we could clearly view the more experienced students in the front. For 90 minutes (yes! 90 minutes), the instructor quickly went through a series of 26 poses, each of them held for 90 seconds.
With sweat dripping from every pore of my body, I did my best to twist myself into a pretzel, hold the pose for the required time and not bolt from the room. It was a humbling experience. I could not do many of the poses either from lack of flexibility or from the ACL reconstruction on my left knee. For every pose that I could not do, I gratefully sat quietly
There were long moments when my mind screamed, "WHAT AM I DOING HERE????!!!!" And other moments when I thought, "Am I going to die?" Followed by, "No one ever died from doing yoga. No one ever died from doing yoga . . . "
At the end of 90 minutes my friend and I changed our clothes, got in my car, and drove silently back to her apartment. My brain felt numb. We usually talk the entire time we're together, but after hot yoga we were speechless. It took a shower and food to jump start my brain back into speech.
When I compared the pros and cons of the experience, the only pro that I could find is that my skin did, indeed, look amazing from the sweating and the heat. When I shared that with someone, he said, "Go to a sauna!"
I can see where hot yoga can be really beneficial for:
- increasing flexibility
- sweating out toxins
- losing weight
- providing a challenging workout
- improving concentration
- boosting your immune system
- disciplining your mind into controlling your body
I kept promising myself that I would try it 2-3 more times before I gave up but that day hasn't come yet. Until then, I'll just have to settle for the sauna.