Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why they call it present...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Still asking myself WHY?

I remember Googling my area before I moved to Vancouver and the first thing I looked for was where the closest yoga studio was. To my delight, about 200 steps from the door of my condo to the Bikrams yoga studio up the street. I was VERY excited. Not only was it ALL hot yoga ALL the time, but a different style that I would be learning.

I remember coming into the studio for the first time and asking myself if I had done the right thing by spending $300 for 3 months unlimited...without checking the place out first. My frame of mind was overwhelmed and I needed something to link me back “home” I needed SOME similarity, an outlet, and some much needed yoga relaxation. WOW, did I go to the wrong place!
I walked into the studio and into the yoga room. CARPET! Ummm EWWW! Having a Mother who worked in infection control and microbiology didn’t help this situation as a multitude of bacteria (with very long names) ran through my head. I set down my mat and towel at the back of the room knowing that this usually the coolest part of the room. I was wrong. At this Bikrams studio, it was the HOTTEST. Bikrams is already HOT at 105 degrees Fahrenheit; add 50 more bodies and 90 mins of yoga on top of that. Back home in Mississauga I was use to doing 90 minutes of hatha, vinyasa, anusara inspired flows at a comfortable 36-38 degrees Celsius. I did not know that Bikrams was the same 26 postures every class, every time, every day. I also noticed a big difference between the yoga instructors at Bikrams and my home town studio. Back home the instructors would walk around, assist, adjust and SMILE! This particular Bikrams studio the instructor sat on a stool, on a stage and BARKED orders at us as if we were in the army. I remember after about the 5th standing posture I bent down to take a sip of water and was yelled at. No one told me about the “no water rule” until after the 15th posture...or something CRAZY like that! I remember walking home, drenched, tired, sore but not mentally satisfied. I went back (more so because of the non refundable 3 month pass) two days later, wanting to give it another shot...again it could have been the expensive pass, but I REALLY wanted to give this a shot, and like a lot of other things in my life...I don’t give up easily.
The 26 postures were a range of things I had done before and things that (back then) made my mouth drop and say to myself “are you F%#&ing kidding me”
I do remember the breakthroughs of waiting until I was allowed to drink water (still not sure what’s up with that “rule”) laying down into child’s pose only twice, once then going through the entire flow without feeling like I was going to faint. I remember the boost of confidence and energy these little accomplishments gave me and how much it made me want to go back. Eventually the Sergeant like feeling of the instructor and the 26 postures over and over again and a lot of little things finally broke my already fragile state of mind. I ended up quitting and selling the rest of my 3 month unlimited pass. Unfortunately, I gave up. This wasn’t like my defense I wasn’t “ME” while living in BC anyways.
The reason I decided to write this blog almost 2 years after the fact is that it took me 2 years to learn what I didn’t know back then. Put in the same position now I would have done things differently as I am stronger, and a well educated yoga instructor. I know my body, my feelings, my mental and physical capacity and most of all I know what I value, and locking my knees ISN’T one of them. I am thankful I went through what I did as discouraging as it was, it taught me about what I don’t want in my yoga practice, as a yoga teacher, and in the end I’m saving a lot of money by not signing up for a 7 wk Bikrams Yoga intensive.
Having said all of this negative stuff about Bikrams yoga, I can’t help but wonder why it continuously pops up in my life. We talked about it in teacher training, amongst yoga friends, my students asking my thoughts on it and finally a BRAND new Bikrams studio opening up conveniently up the block from me.

I recently read this very well written article on Bikrams

I cringed and nodded and I related to the article. “Before the session is over, 50 or so students have rolled up their mats and left, overwhelmed. I hear what sounds like the chop-chop-chopping of helicopter blades and realize it's my own heartbeat.”
However...a small part of me is intrigued. It could be the fact that I’m VERY competitive and feel the need to DO this, over come my hatred with Bikrams, face my fears and challenge myself once again. Not sure who I’m trying to impress or what I’m trying to prove, but I just feel I need to give it one more chance. This time, I’ll buy one class instead of 3 months worth. Sometimes you can’t help but be overzealous.


  1. I had a very bad experience with Bikram's Yoga a few years ago, almost exactly the same as you described (but different city). I've since been to another studio (with wood floors, immaculately clean facilities, awesome instructors) and had a completely opposite experience. It was great!

    It *is* a very intense heat and admittedly, 'locking the knee' isn't for everyone. However, much of what I learned from my Bikram's experience has strengthened my Astanga practice. I've come away with a deep respect for the practice and the people who teach it.

  2. I have had mixed feelings about Bikram. I have not tried it yet because I don't like anything strict or over serious. Though, I am intrigued by it! One day I will try it, and I think you should give it another shot as well (with a one day pass). I prefer my yoga to be relaxing and I drink water often so I would probably be getting yelled at a lot!