They say Bikram yoga is practiced in a 105 degree room with about forty percent humidity, but the thermostat in my particular room said it was 117 degrees as I set up my mat and towel for my first class. Is the thermostat broken? Will this kill me? No one in the room seemed phased by the temperature, and so I relaxed on my mat on my back and waited.
“Oh, hey! This is like sunbathing!” I thought. Three minutes elapsed. And keep in mind I was still only just laying on my back. There had been no actual exercise yet.
The instructor entered the room and announced that the lights were coming on. Everyone but me knew this was the cue to stand up and begin.
This was absolutely nothing like sunbathing. The dialogue was constant and included dozens of tiny corrections. I tried so hard to be perfect and failed repeatedly. I was dizzy. Hot and dying. And so frustrated! I kept looking around for the clock (there wasn’t one) and after each breath wondered when it would all be over. Two breathing exercises and twenty-six poses later…
I made it! It took a while to stand up at the end of class after the final relaxation, which even then turned out to be a Bad Idea. I sat back down. I sipped water. I stayed in the room the entire ninety minutes, which was the goal for a first class. I even managed to do all the poses. Not well, I’m sure, but I didn’t take a knee or sit down. After my head stopped spinning and I could walk a reasonably straight line, I made it outside and the breeze felt amazing…and then FREEZING. I was sore, but triumphant!