Sooo...a little while ago I attended a Bikram Yoga session (otherwise known as "Hot Yoga", for good reason) with my sister. She had gone to a previous class and enjoyed it. So she wanted to share it with me. I was touched by her invitation since we don't have a lot in common, nor does she invite me out often. Although if you knew my sister, then you would also know there is ALWAYS an ulterior motive. Perhaps she believes it to be well hidden, but she doesn't often do things without considering what she's getting out of it. I knew she wanted a Yoga partner, and she's made it obvious to me that she would prefer me if I was slimmer. Don't get me wrong, I could lose a few pounds (who couldn't) but I'm not exactly in the WORST shape. Anyway...
The day started at 6 in the morning, when I woke up. Much earlier than usual - I usually wake up by 9. Why was I getting up so early? Well, it all started when my sister offered me a ride to my boyfriend's. This was a treat since it's a) freezing outside, and b) I usually take the bus. Yes, the bus. Motorcycles don't drive in snow. When my sister offered a ride, I was excited and said yes. I thanked her. She then said that she needed to renew her passport and go to Hot Yoga - since those places were not too far from my boyfriend's place...
Ugh. Yes. Exactly. Every favour comes with a price. She was very willing to drive me - as long as I woke up early, went with her to renew her passport, and attended Hot Yoga. The price was high but I felt a little pinch from my super-ego, telling me to go with my sister. So I agreed once more. You see, she had already trapped me with the first "yes". Clever girl. She knows I have a guilty conscience about everything.
Right - so I woke up at 6 a.m. and we left at 7 to get to Canada Place early (a magical, wondrous, beaurucratic place filled with government offices - mostly about taxes and what not). We arrived, parked out front (very lucky since it's downtown) and went inside. Despite being around 8 in the morning, there were people already waiting in the passport office. Seriously - days start way too early. Anyway, we got it done. It wasn't even 9 in the morning and our yoga session wasn't until noon. We had some time to kill.
What did we do? I was like, why don't we just go for a walk? Since we were downtown and there are connecting pedways between the buildings which allows pedestrians to stay warm. We wandered over to City Centre mall, then back to Canada Place before we left. We waited a bit more until we finally drove to a yoga studio located outside of China town, and beneath an attorney's office. Somehow, it seemed really funny to me - and now, it seems even funnier.
I don't usually give names for specific vendors for numerous reasons - mainly that I want to remain objective and I don't feel like I should influence people to frequent a place if I don't feel convinced. Well in this instance, I will mention the name of the place for many, very good reasons. The yoga studio is called "Bē". I have decided to mention it by name because it was incredibly professional, clean, and overall had a terrific atmosphere and ambiance. If Bikram Yoga is something you're interested in (and you live in the area), I'd look in to it. The prices are reasonable, and the schedule is filled with classes at different times. It's a perfect place for beginners since the first time is free. Very handy for a quick try.
The place was immaculate. There was handy shoe rack at the front door (along with a bench to sit on - it's the little things). Participants sign in with an account, using a tablet at the front desk. This makes it easy to track who attends what, since most of the pricing deals in numbers of classes you want to take. That sort of thing. There are enormous change rooms with hooks for jackets, cubbies for items, and of course attached bathrooms and showers. Everything was painted, tiled and designed to bring a sense of zen.
The yoga instructor informed my sister and I that she was starting to warm up the room, and we could wait inside - acclimatize so-to-speak. I nodded, agreeing that it was probably a good idea. It was warm and moist, but not quite there yet. I immediately noticed the interesting floor, it was so bizarre - like rubber coated string glued together. It's a special type of non-porous, water-proof, non-slip yoga flooring - ideal for use in Bikram Yoga where there is A LOT of "moisture".
Now, I'm no stranger to Yoga. In fact, my mother has been doing Yoga for something like 40 years. So she's definitely an expert. Of course, that means that I've also done some Yoga here and there. I've even done Yoga using Wii Fit. I'm fairly familiar with stances and what-not. However, I was not prepared for the inconceivable heat and humidity involved in Bikram Yoga. Let it be known that I've never been a lover of heat. I like warm sunshine, don't get me wrong, but there is a limit before I completely break down as a human being.
What is this all leading up to? What is all this preamble for? Well, I'll tell you. Hot Yoga is basically Hell. Not the fun kind of "just-suffering", almost acquiescent Hell - the kind where you're forced to work past your limit in stifling, choking heat. I have NEVER experienced anything like that before. I felt like I was dying.
In fact, I was so convinced that I was going to pass out from heat exhaustion or water intoxication, or something worse, that I felt suddenly grateful for my sister being present. If something happened, at least she was there, and even better, I had given the yoga studio my emergency contact information. Suddenly, it made sense why such information was vital.
I thought, if these are my last moments before death, I can at least be rest assured that wherever I'm going will be better. At least it'll be cooler. It would have to be.
The class dragged on and on and on. I was beginning to wonder why it hadn't ended yet. Even by my internal clock it was past an hour. What was going on? How was I going to be able to stay in there any longer? I had to - despite every inch of my body desperately clawing to get out of the room, I had to stay in there. It's a sibling thing largely. If my sister wasn't there, it would have been much easier for my ego to allow me to leave. Instead, I suffered while I performed slippery, strenuous yoga moves.
Finally, the instructor told us to lie down while she turned on the de-humidifier (whoever knew that could be a good thing, I live in a dry climate). Then she turned off the lights and said that we could remain relaxed and quiet for as long we liked. I was like - "fuck this shit" and immediately informed my sister that we needed to leave. I rolled up the rented mat so quickly there was a cooling breeze and waited in anguish while my sister dawdled. Eventually we got out and I breathed the biggest, most grateful breath I've ever breathed. That's when my dear, loving sister informed me that we took part in an 85 minute class (although I think she meant either 75 or 90 minutes). I was exhausted. She asked if I felt "refreshed". I was like, who feels refreshed after working out in the smelliest, sweatiest place ever?
To summarize, Bikram Yoga or "Hot" Yoga should actually be referred to as HELL Yoga - in all caps just as I've written. That name more aptly portrays the true torturous nature of performing difficult moves in an even more arduous climate. If you dislike the heat - stay the HELL away from this type of yoga. You will die. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I do it to save your life. However, if you enjoy the heat and like being stretched like taffy - please feel free to enjoy the many...pungent wonders of HELL Yoga. If the heat doesn't kill you, the smell will.
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