Fear of Bikram Yoga

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There was a Bikram Yoga studio on my way home from the train, when I lived in San Francisco. I would pass it every night, and swear I wouldn’t peer through the windows because it is rude, to spy on people when they are vulnerable, in their workout clothes and sweaty and going ow ow ow, or wondering how their ass looks. Because that’s something that’s hard not to do, when you’re in an exercise class. Or so I’ve heard.

I’d peer through the glass every single night. Sometimes, just a glance, and I’d see uplifted arms and gleaming skin and looks of concentration and determination and once, outright agony. Sometimes, I’d stop, and I’d get very close to the window and watch, because I was fascinated. I had never done yoga (never had, actually, until I moved to Utah, and if that’s not counter-intuitive, I don’t know what is), but I thought I might want to, or could do it, that it would be good for my body and my beautiful spirit and my crazy head, right? That’s how yoga goes. It fixes you from the inside out.

Every night, an invitation to try yoga, this place a block and a half from my house. Not that expensive, hours when I could go. And the promise of millions of calories burned, magical, curative, restorative properties, all the exclusive territory of hot-room yoga and no other kind–it melts the toxins, it loosens your muscles, it makes you rubbery, and you’ll burn 1,000 calories in the space of an hour. Bikram Yoga was a miracle exercise! That I was terrified to try.

It was yoga, for one thing, and yoga intimidated me. I am not a particularly bendy girl. I am not a graceful person, in any shape or size. I am not the most fit person you’ll ever see, I do not deal well in the summer with the heat, I dislike group exercise because someone might be staring at my butt, I dislike group exercise because someone might laugh at me for doing everything wrong, I dislike group exercise because I don’t want to look at other people’s butts and watch everyone do everything right and so much better than I ever could. I dislike group exercise.

But I kept peering through the window anyway, and swearing that I would just try it, because. Because it’s convenient? Or trendy? Or it might kill me? I don’t know why. Maybe I really did believe it was a miracle exercise. I can sometimes be secretly, stubbornly gullible, in my heart of hearts.

So I move to Utah, try yoga for the first time (whee!) and love it. But the classes are at frustrating hours–I keep missing the early ones because I stay at E’s place without my workout clothes, and I keep forgetting to make the afternoon ones, and there are only two classes a week, anyway, and what the heck is that? Irritating, is what it is. But what’s this? There is a Bikram studio, in town! With classes every day, several times a day? Well, okay, if you insist. Especially since it’s not on a street corner, with big plate-glass windows that allow passers-by to rudely gape. It terrifies me anyway, even without spectators. But I’m going to try it, and probably I won’t die! Probably.

An Editor’s Review:

I absolutely love hot yoga. It is literally heck but the feeling you get afterwards is indescribable! I love it, it’s made my so much more comfortable with my body in the short amount of time I’ve been doing it and it makes me feel productive and sexy…two of the things I rarely feel outside of yoga. Of course it’s slightly intimidating to look at all the people who have been doing this for years and have not an ounce of fat on their body bending in ways you’ve only seen in contortionism but I just hold out hope that one day, I will get there.

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