Day 8. Looking at the Floor.

I’m stressed about comparing myself to others in the room. I can’t focus on myself in the mirror for the standing bow pulling pose, because it makes my balancing leg wobble. I have to look down at the floor, which tells me I suck, which makes me wobble even more. The teacher offered advice. Don’t look down at the floor, or that’s where you’ll end up!

I’m so frustrated.

Day 2. The Good Kind of Hurt.

It’s so hot in here. 

It’s hot in here, but the air is cool. I feel the heat on my body, but I’m breathing cool air through my nose.

The air was HOT! But I told myself these little lies about the cool air during my second Bikram yoga class as a means of keeping my heart calm. It was beating inside my ears for most of the class. Even though I practically fainted yesterday, I came back again for another dose of the torture chamber.

I was listening to the dialogue and also not listening to it—trying to drown out the sound and focus on the poses. I was sore and wobbly from the day before, but able to push a bit more than yesterday, which hurt in a good way. The only pose that gave me true pain was the locust pose, which hurt beyond belief. I assumed my elbows had been incorrectly installed and made a note to ask the instructor about this theory after class. I could feel all the places that were sore from yesterday. It felt so much harder, and yet the time went faster, since I knew what to expect.

My “lamp-post leg” shook, and I got so frustrated. I wanted to be better than this! I hate failing. Was I failing? I was there, in the room. I was standing.  I made it through a second time and still had to concentrate on my steps as I walked to the changing room. As I rushed out to my car, to the air conditioning, for some reason I decided if I was going to try Bikram yoga, I should go all the way and do seven days in a row.

Bikram Yoga, Day 1.

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!