Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stinky Sweaty Strong Yogis in Ann Arbor

Bikram Yoga. What is that? It sounds intimidating. Bikram. Yoga. Hrm. A quick Google search takes you to, a fire colored website with a beautifully muscular man at the top of the page. That man is Bikram Choudhury, founder and teacher. He developed a series of 26 postures that " every part of the body, to give all the internal organs, all the veins, all the ligaments, and all the muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function.  Each component takes care of something different in the body, and yet they all work together synergistically, contributing to the success of every other one, and extending its benefits." (from Bikram Yoga) The studio pamphlet from Bikram Yoga in Ann Arbor tells me that "Bikram Yoga uses heat to heal & strengthen". Bikram Yoga is done in front of mirrors in 105 degrees of steamy, sweaty, stinky heat. You have to look at yourself throughout the entire 90 minutes - really look - and go through the postures. For first timers, the goal is to just stay in the room.

When I lived in Massachusetts, we had a Bikram Yoga studio right in front of my apartment, Bikram Yoga Amherst. I'm so disappointed I never went. I was scared to do something new by myself. Yoga studios intimidated me and a studio full of people (the parking lot was ALWAYS full) in a practice I had never seen was even more terrifying.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to check out Bikram in Ann Arbor about a week ago. I've been practicing Vinyasa/Power Yoga since August and I felt like I could handle the adventure. Plus, I was encouraged to try new things! That made a world of difference. I was intimidated, but I asked around prior to going, and was mostly prepared. Mostly. Wear very light clothing, bring a towel, bring a water bottle...maybe another towel. 

I walked into the room with my bath towel, hand towel, mat, and water bottle. Immediately I felt like I had entered a sauna. My brain said uhoh but my body said LETS DO THIS - BRING IT ON! Setting up in the front row, directly facing the mirrors, I took some time to adjust to the temperature and breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Looking around me at the jacked up beautiful muscles around bikini tops and bottoms, I felt a bit worried, but tried to shrug it off. The teacher walked in and introduced herself and we began.

You think focus on breathe in Power Yoga is necessary? It becomes an even more immediate concern when you're staring at your body in front of a mirror, sweating like a friggin horse after a race, drenching your towel and mat, and attempting to go as far into the postures as you can, with a drop-kick version of vinyasa and then savasana between postures. 

The 26 postures are mostly detoxifying postures. Serious detox. Whenever I go into a detoxifying posture, I always think of the old candy commercial from when I was a kid - "just squeeze the candy out of it!" I definitely squeezed all the candy out in that 90 minute class! There were a few times when I felt like I may throw I laid down...only to feel like maybe I should sit I focused my mind and tried to make it stop screaming at me. 

It was intense. It was detoxifying. It was a work out. It was beautiful. Folks with S and M tendencies in their yoga will fall in love with Bikram. Bikram Yoga is an incredible practice. If you're looking for an intense practice to mix up your yoga, check it out. Don't let fear of a new practice, edge or experience keep you away. And afterward, drink a whole lot of water and grab some incredible food in town knowing that you can afford the calories. 


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