I did my very first Bikram yoga class today just for fun. My GOD the sweat. It was literally running off me in little rivulets. A small puddle formed at the front of my mat. Of course the towel was completely drenched, as were my clothes. Absolutely sodden. I actually sort of liked the heat. Although it was funny how, when it’s 105 degrees, even lying down is not that comfortable. Every time I laid down, I would immediately become extremely aware of my heart, pumping really hard in my chest. That sucker was working, sort of shaking my whole torso. Very odd sensation.
In terms of poses, it wasn’t really what I would call a challenging class. There was one serious balance challenge, the full expression of Eka Pada Hastapadangustasana, where you grab your one foot with both hands at once and then, extending the leg forward, also try to bend your torso down to extended leg. That was a fun one, especially with slippery, sweaty hands. Oh, also the one-legged toe-balance thing. I don’t know the name of that pose. Where you put one leg into a half-lotus pose, and then squat down and balance on the ball of the other foot? Not easy. The weirdest part was the sequencing. There was a Shivasana about halfway through for no apparent reason. Then there was a loooooong sequence of seated poses where we kept having to spin around on the mat, lie down, sit up and do Paschimottanasana, then spin back around and do some other pose like Supta Vajrasana, then spin around and lie down again, etc. So a lot of up and down, which was seriously annoying. As I understand it, all true Bikram classes follow a preset sequence? Is that right, anyone? If so, that might be a problem for me. There was not enough real challenge there. Maybe I’m getting to be a bit of a yoga snob. But there were almost no twisting postures, and also no inversions. Not even a Down Dog.
Now the bad part: the teaching was really alarming. The little man was reciting the pre-set Bikram sequences and apparently was regurgitating exactly what Bikram says to say. And that included a lot of weird stuff like “push until your back hurts!” Or “lean farther; you are trying to fall backward!” Or best of all, “lock your knee, lock your knee, lock your knee!” And really NOT a whole lot of actual pose instruction. I am an experienced yogini now, so I didn’t need the instruction, but it would be hell on Earth if this had been somebody’s first class. That would be a real trauma. So, since I know better, I just ignored all the insane stuff he was shouting out. But I feel pretty sorry for all the people who might actually follow those instructions. Oddly, Bikram really cares how your hands are aligned. He repeatedly reminded us to keep the fingers and thumb all clamped together like a mannequin hand. He even corrected me when my fingers splayed apart. Really, dude? THAT is the alignment that you are worried about?
And then, after class, funniest of all, the teacher actually spoke to me to tell me my yoga was good. He complimented my Natarajasana pose. And I really had to stifle the urge to smirk and reply, “of course my poses are good; in Anusara yoga we actually do alignment instruction, good sir.” But I was nice, I swear!
Final verdict: NOT FOR BEGINNERS AT ALL EVER. But the heat and the sweating were fun, and I might go back just to enjoy myself in spite of the crazy. Also, on a very hippy-dippy note I must add that Bikram seems like an excellent way to reduce excess Kapha Dosha or strengthen up your Pitta Dosha. LOL I can’t believe I just wrote that… what is this life I am living?