Heading Things Up
If you’ve lived in Florida for long, you’ve probably gotten wimpy in the cold. Floridians tend to bundle up at the first dip below 70 degrees. Maybe you’ve adopted Mr. Roger’s layering technique to stay warm, moving right from an outdoor jacket to an indoor wrap when coming in from the cold? If chilly weather workouts aren’t inspiring anymore, or if you’ve got a case of winter doldrums, try yoga… Bikram yoga.
Bikram yoga turns up the heat in more than one way. It’s not exactly the relaxing experience you’d expect from a yoga class. While Bikram incorporates the traditional 26 poses in a 90-minute class, the room is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If ever there were a place for Mr. Rogers to strip down shirtless, to just Shakti shorts (the unofficial Bikram uniform), Bikram Yoga studio, 1388 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, would be it.
If you’ve never done yoga in a 100 degree plus studio before, a good goal is to just stay in the room. There’s a frightening moment when the door first closes and you are facing 90 minutes of sweating and slow, heart pounding movements.
There’s also chance you’ll leave the studio feeling transcendent and euphoric. There’s a good chance you’ll feel happier about the world around you, appreciative of the earth’s temperature and your ability to move at brisk pace. There’s a really great chance you’ll go out and buy Shakti shorts.
What’s a Bikram class like?
Class begins with deep breathing sequences. The poses are introduced slowly, and there’s really no other way to do them but slowly when adjusting to thick heat. Flexibility doesn’t seem to be as big an issue in Bikram, everyone does what they can…to not pass out.
There’s a deeper connection with personal limitations unlike traditional workouts, where you’re tempted to compare yourself with the person next to you. Bikram also presents the perfect opportunity to embrace the suck. Ashley Hurley, my Monday night yoga instructor, coached us to, “Avoid the urge to fidget or wipe sweat.” Sweat dripping into your eyes can be a good lesson – stop wiping, it will just keep dripping. More spiritually stated – stop responding to discomfort by reaching for things.
A Warm, Cozy Feeling
The idea of looking for something new to counter old habits is probable counterproductive. Bikram yoga is a good place to discover this. There’s a pose that is especially challenging for me. It involves sitting Japanese style, grabbing your heels and arching your spine, in an attempt to touch head to floor, gaze up and back. It’s grueling, uncomfortable and lasts too long. That’s the perfect time to live in the moment without “fidgeting or wiping”, embracing the discomfort, and the cold air that awaits outside.
Hot and Crazy
There’s a rumor that some Bikram instructors are crazed yogis, rigid in their practice and drill sergeants in the studio. “Don’t drink water yet!” “Get out of child’s pose!” If you’re afraid of being scolded for doing child’s pose in the middle of a Bikram class, there may be some science behind avoiding it. Ashley Hurley of Bikram Yoga Jax cautions against drinking water until the 3rd pose, eagle pose, in order to let your internal body adjust to the heat. She also recommends lying down, back on mat, instead of child’s pose because placing the head below the heart in extremely warm temperatures can be harmful.