Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Bikram Yoga Experience

Hi. I'm Mat.

So I tried Bikram Yoga on Mother's Day. I wanted to try something new. (That's what this year is about!) I got Bikram's book. I went online and read about the good, the bad, and the ugly about this type of yoga. I got a Living Social Deal for 5 classes for $25 three days before my class. I packed my gym bag. I even cut my toenails. My husband was like, "Is it that serious?" Yes. I need something new.

Boy, did I get it.


  • My teacher, Lauren Kaye, was AWESOME. Skipping to what happened at the end of class, in short: I cramped up. All ten of my fingers and my jaw (yes, jaw) locked up. I could barely carry my yoga mat out of class. I could talk, but I couldn't move my jaw. That scared the $#^! out of me because I've never experienced that before. I sat in the lobby and managed to get someone to grab Lauren. She said, "You need electrolytes. " She was on it like green on grass. Sarah, the owner of Bikram Yoga Hampden, got me a Vitamin Water and told me to drink it all. Lauren never left my side. She talked me down off my emotional cliff. That jaw cramping freaked me the hell out. I am not going to lie.
  • I learned my lesson: next time (not so sure about that) drink coconut water, Vitamin Water, whatever, just keep the electrolytes coming.
  • The studio was beautiful.
  • The in-studio shower was a relief.

  • That class was the hardest physical thing I have ever done, outside of giving birth naturally to two big-headed boys. No joke. I knew it would be. That's why I did it.
  • If you don't know about Bikram Yoga, it's 26 poses done - usually twice - in a room heated to 105 degrees. It is the original Hot Yoga.
  • I rested when I needed to do so. Again, Lauren was very encouraging.
  • In the locker room, when I took off my clothes, everything was dripping wet. It was like I had swam in the ocean. I am not exaggerating. I could wring the sweat out of my clothes.
  • My fellow students were cool too. I really did like this studio.

  • Here is where it gets weird. I'm been practicing yoga since 1999, and taught since 2000. I always feel better after a yoga class, no matter what style. Post-cramping, I felt great. The next day, I felt great. I was planning my next visit.
  • Then I hit The Great Wall of China.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I felt completely NUMB. I could not feel ANY emotion. You talk about scared....I was scared, my husband was scared for me.
  • I know depression. It's something I've suffered from off-and-on since college. But that was Situational Depression. I can point to major events and see why I reacted the way I did.
  • This was Clinical or Chemical Depression. It was like the pilot light was shut off in my brain. Last week was a great one. I paid for my Kripalu reservation; my kids got wonderful news about their progress. Things were fantastic. Yet, I wasn't just sad. I felt ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. No joy. No pain. No sadness. No nothing. I was disconnected from everyone and everything. Feeling disconnected from humanity is headed toward the realm of mental illness.  I know I got issues, but damn!
  • On Friday, I spent an hour outside in the sun. That was when I started to feel like myself again. Friday was a sunny 80 degree day. It was beautiful.

  • The beautiful thing about life is that we can observe our own behavior. I believe in the "self" and "Self." Or the "personality" and "soul." Whatever you want to call it. My "Self" could see that I, Althea as a personality, was way off emotionally. I was drinking electrolyte drinks trying to come back into balance. I got back online to see if I could find if anyone else had had this same experience. I did not.
  • But when I searched "Bikram Yoga" depression, a result came up "can Bikram Yoga cause depression." That's when I knew I wasn't the only person who had experienced this phenonomena.
  • Will I do it again? I'd say no. If I did, I would not push myself as hard. I'd rest more during class.
  • One benefit was that I'm pushing myself harder in my home practice. I'm working on The Sun Salute A and B from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. I did 5 rounds of each this morning. I said to myself, "If I can get through 90 minutes of Bikram, I can certainly do this." And I did.
Should I go back? Should I not? I'd love to hear other people's experiences.




Anonymous said...

Althea, How's it going thus far? I can't say what you should or shouldn't do, however I do feel it would be a great idea to try Bikram Yoga one more time...afterall you paid for it. But more than that you are now better able to prepare for what took place that caught you off guard, and better safeguard yourself from falling into those same pitfalls. I have done both Kundalini and Bikram and love both of them, each for what they are and do my best in both to NOT push myself. And I think from your description and from how you seem to be you gave it your all and then some. And so maybe next time it might be a good idea to be fully hydrated and aware of when enough is enough. But hey, I am just one person.

Anyway, way to go on completing that first class, cause I have had some of my friends that I brought to a Bikram class, after the first half hour they are spent, and just lie there on the floor in meditation pose. Just my 2 cents. Peace and many Blessings, Stacey

Anonymous said...

I've been doing yoga for only a week now as I love pilates. I like I think because it is something different but I have never did it in hot room. Your experience was interesting. I hope it gets better for you

Paula said...

Hi Althea,

So glad you posted this. I'm going to share this on my FB page, The Weigh Inn, there's lots of people who are Bikram pros, maybe they can provide insight.

Namaste, Paula

Delphi said...

Love your blog. I did a Bikram yoga challenge-- 17 days into a 30 day challenge I came down with a migraine. My first and only-- I went blind and had to go to the hospital, it was majorly scary. I think that you should do what feels right, but please be aware that you can easily over do it with the extreme type of yoga esp. if you are sensitive to electrolyte imbalances.

Althea said...

Thanks everyone. I decided that I will go back. I haven't picked a date. Thank you for all of your comments & advice!

Lena's Blend said...

Bikram yoga and any hot yoga in general is the best workout I've ever experienced. I come out of class feeling like I'm floating and my skin glows and I look a lot more relaxed for days after. Unfortunately I just can't fit classes into my schedule right now so I can't do it. I've never heard of of the depression thing with yoga though, but I only use yoga as a physical exercise nothing more.

Saundra Cortese said...

Here is the thing about Bikram, you have to be mentally prepared by being tolerant. The heat will give you a hard time concentrating. The key is to be one with your mind and body, not with the outer environment. It is like whispering to every vein, every joint, and every single pore in your body to keep cool. The power of the mind is greater than the physical capabilities. Note that yoga is about balance and proper breathing. You need focus to balance your body. And you need deep concentration to get in that zone where nothing can distract you. And for you to get to that zone, you need to relax your mind. Don’t stop doing yoga because it will benefit you a lot.

Althea said...

Thanks Lena and Saundra. I am listening to everyone's advice. I will go back for my last 4 classes and keep everyone posted.


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