Let me just start by saying this outright:
While I love fitness, I do not consider myself an athlete
“But!” that inevitable reader who knows me personally pipes up, “You spent 12 years of your life swimming! You’ve participated in softball, basketball and water polo! You’ve taken classes on everything from ballet to krav maga! You look great! How are you not an athlete?”
Well, first: thanks for the flattery, I’m charmed. Second: While I do love to get into the swing of fitness, and have had many two-a-days and high-pressure conditioning sessions, I’m by no means naturally athletic. I’m not much of a runner or a jumper, but what I lack in innate affinity I make up for in competitive spunk.
And it’s this spunk I mustered when a few of my friends picked up a LivingSocial for Bikram Yoga in Queens, and suggested I do the same. Spearheaded by my good friend and resident yoga rockstar, Victoria, we headed over for my first class on Tuesday. Now I’m a true yoga beginner: the idea of stretching and posing never really caught my fancy, especially since it felt more like meditation and less like a workout. Well, I was shocked. Bikram Yoga is a real, grueling workout:
- 90 minutes in a 100+ degree room
- 26 intense poses that stretch every muscle in your body
- Those 26 poses again just to hit it home
- Breathing exercises and limitations
It’s safe to say that this workout knocked my right on my butt. Adjusting to the oppressive heat was more difficult than anything I’ve ever experienced, especially when my natural reaction is to panic and try to get out. I have a functioning arrhythmia that gets much more pronounced when I’m straining myself or trying to regulate my body temperature, and I have a higher potential of passing out. So, when the heat got to me and the tunnel vision began, I wanted to run out of the room and give up. But, the great instructor calmed me down and told me to be unafraid of sitting out whenever I felt even the slightest bit dizzy.
The funny thing is, after that, everything got a lot better. I did what I could, listened to my body, and sat out when I needed to. I didn’t even feel like looking at the clock, because the yoga made me so focused on my body that I started to feel centered and relaxed. And, as time went on, I became more adapted and found myself able to do more poses and hold them for longer.
When it was over, I felt accomplished! I was sweaty, gross, and exhausted, but I was happy with my performance and I wanted to stick with it. So, I plan on carrying out the rest of my deal, and committing myself to Bikram yoga. 1 class down, 19 classes to go!