Day 20 - The Push Up Game

Bikram Yoga Miami Central

We used to play this game when I was in high school, where you into a sauna and each person would do one push up. Then 2. Then 3. Then 4. And take turns until one of you quit. It was a great, ballsy, I'm-16-and-gonna-show-you-who's-tougher game for us to play. But if I'd had absolutley no upper body strength, probably would have been something I'd avoid.

If you're ever thinking about going to "hot" yoga, think about it like you would the push up game. As in, if you're not good at yoga, it's probably not for you.

I know some serious yoga people who aren't fans, and I know people who wear by it and say it's the greatest workout ever. And I see how they could both be right. But what I learned today is this: This is for advanced yogis, and maybe not the best idea for a guy dabbling into women's fitness.

I mean, I've done yoga now for a year, but mostly "Gentle yoga" at the wellness center with some vinyasa classes mixed in at Mickey's. Nothing too strenuous, and always nicely air conditioned.

The thing with Bikram, if you weren't aware, is A HUNDRED A FREAKING FIVE DEGREES in the studio. Which sounds like a good, lets-see-how-tough-I-am challenge, But if you're not advanced, it's hard to get anything out of it.

So my friend signed me up to go with her, and when I arrived the people at the desk told me 'Today's class is 90 minutes." But, you know, I'm an Ironman, I was in the Marines, no fuckign problem, right?

Well, sorta.

I was given this nice no-slip yoga mat that I used at Vinyasa, then this awesome sweat towel that even when saturated still takes sweat away. As well as a gripping large towel that also absorbs sweat. Nice, top of the line products, all of them, but about 1/3 of the way through the class I totally looked like that guy on the slopes with 10 grand worth of ski gear who falls down the bunny hill.

First off, I realized I'd need to take my shirt off. Something i don't like to do, especially when i'm forced to look at myself in the mirror for 90 minutes. The exercises weren't really all that much harder in the beginning than other yoga classes I've been to. But once we got to stuff I struggle with - even in normal temperature - the class got really tough.

We did a whole series of poses with arms over our heads, which is always tough. Then we moved into balancing poses, which, forget about it. I can hold those for 5 seconds MAX before I have to put my foot down. And when it's 105, well, you're not exactly in a hurry to get back up. Tree was especially hard since I couldn't get foot any traction on my thigh. So the class becomes even harder, since you use more muscles to keep your body from sliding around.

We moved on to some isometric holds, which are fine when you're in a normal yoga class. Tough when you have sweat dripping into your eyes. The sweat towel did an amazing job, and at one point I picked it up and it easily weighed three pounds. I rung it out and it was like a deluge on the floor. Pretty gross, but the towel was amazing.

The problem was, an hour in I had completely abandoned ship on controlled breating, and because of the sweat and the heat wasn't holding positions for long enough to get anything out of them. Basically what I got out of the class was how to survive in 105 degree rooms for an hour and a half. That's not to say it's a great workout for people who know what they're doing, but if you're a beginner and every pose sounds like "shvannasana" and you have to follow everybody else, it's not really a great idea.

So my advice if you're a tough guy and want to try yoga, but think hot yoga makes you extra hard, remember: Hard is just a four letter word for stupid. Get REALLY good at the basics, do classes that are on the same level as what they'll do in here, master it, THEN go into Bikram. If you're that kind of person, the heat can be a release, and I totally get it. If you're not? It almost becomes counter productive.

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