People who have tried Bikram Yoga tend to have strong feelings about it. They love it or they haaaaaate it.
While admittedly I spent most of my first class at Bikram Yoga Toronto drenched in sweat, lying on my mat and gazing incredulously at anyone who was capable of movement in the oppressive heat, after a couple of classes, I learned the flow of things and for a time was pretty hooked.
At the end of a day of desks and keyboards, it was a relief to stretch and bend, move and yes, even the profuse sweating felt like a great release.
As someone who is naturally about as flexible as a dried-out No. 2 pencil, I was delighted to find that after a few weeks, my toes actually came within touching range.
Often, the most challenging part of the class was simply staying put. There were times when I wanted to just run from the oppressive heat of the room, smashing through the doors and bursting out into the street to gulp in the (comparatively) fresh night air. I would lie still and quiet, letting the sweat roll off me and thinking, It’s just uncomfortable. You’re not dying, you’re not in pain. You’re just hot.
It’s not impossible, it’s just hard. You can do hard.
It might sound crazy to willingly put oneself through that, but finding the discipline to stick it out when things were difficult and having patience when things were uncomfortable or irritating was a victory that translated well into my life outside of the “torture chamber” (Bikram’s words, not mine).
But I think the best thing Bikram did for me was to change the way I felt about my body.
There’s nothing like some extreme heat to make covering up perceived flaws seem less and less important. On top of that, Bikram tends to attract a much more diverse range of ages and body types than other exercise classes I’ve been to. While I swear I wasn’t creepily staring at people in the change room, I think it did me a world of good to see some real-life naked or near naked women, with their cellulite, fat, and sweat-drenched hair decidedly free of airbrushing or photoshop and knowing that all of those bodies with their shockingly different shapes and sizes had just carried them through the same challenges that mine did.
I went from worrying about being judged for not having a manicure to not bothering to shave my legs in a matter of weeks and while my body didn’t get substantially smaller over my time there, my outfits certainly did. It was just too damn hot to cover up, and better yet, I found the most concern I could muster about whether I ought to be ashamed for unleashing my imperfect torso on the world was a hearty shrug.
And that felt amazing.
In the spirit of this whole metamorphocity idea, I’ve recently begun taking advantage of more of the fantastic activities that the city has to offer.
The one that has stuck with me the most is Bikram Yoga. Right now I’m going twice a week and loving it.
In fact, I’m now so dedicated that even the disgustingly wet and chilly November weather didn’t stop me from trudging through the dark after work to the 40 degree
torture chamber studio for a 90-minute class last night.
Despite the unpleasant journey there, and the fact that my nailpolish peeled off in the heat and sweat kept running up my nose in the upside-downy poses, I had no regrets.
None that is, until I hung up my mat and headed back to the changeroom.
My purse, top and sweater were all where I’d left them.
Not so much.
After a thorough search and a check-in at the front desk, it was clear that someone walked off with them.
And they weren’t just any pants, either. They were the only pants I had brought with me. I was depending on these pants to get me home!
Fortunately, a couple of my coworkers were with me and one of them just happened to have an extra pair to loan me, because while I might be brave enough to wear teeny, tiny shorts to class, I am just not keen on wearing them home with my compression stocking and sneakers on a Canadian winter evening.
Now, I’m trying to give this pants thief the benefit of the doubt here and assume that someone just took them by (really weird) accident.
But if not, you have to admire their nerve. Stealing someone’s pants while they do yoga? Where it’s all sharing energy and positive vibes? That’s gotta be worth some negative karma.
Plus, I gave money to a stranger on the way home, proving that even though someone took my pants, I still believe that people are basically good and we should be kind to each other.
So this pants thief is totally screwed.