Sunday, March 4, 2012

Oops! I did it again

When I first moved to NYC, I purchased a groupon for Bikram Yoga NYC.  Like I mentioned earlier, I used to take hot yoga (Inner Strength Studios) in Boston, and decided that I'd like to try in NYC. I bought the groupon, and then a couple months later, I finally got around to using it.
I hated it.  
What I loved about Inner Strength was that during the class I felt challenged and pushed myself, but afterwards, I felt relaxed and invigorated.  So I was looking for that feeling again at Bikram Yoga NYC.  

Why I did not like Bikram Yoga:
  1. The room is 5-10 degrees hotter than Hot Power Yoga and that makes a huge difference
  2. There were like 600 people crammed into a very narrow room, oh and the floor is carpeted which to me just felt unsanitary.  How do they clean it after each class?
  3. The structure is COMPLETELY different.  The class felt militaristic to me, with the instructor counting and then clapping to signal the end of a pose. 
  4. I felt woozy and exhausted, not challenged or invigorated.  And I sat for about 45% of the class, so it was really like I was in a sauna for waaay too long and that was it. 
So I never went back.  It was, essentially a $40 class, but I didn't think it as worth going back if I disliked it that much.

Today, I accidentally ended up in a very similar class at Yoga to the People.  I have been trying to convince my fiancee (Cameron) to come to a Yoga class with me.  Today was the day!!  He agreed to go!   We chose the Yoga to the People studio on 26th between 7th and 8th ave, since it is the closest to our apartment, therefore avoiding paying for the subway. 

We walk in, set up, etc.  And then the class starts and she tells us to stand up and start with a breathing exercise.  We start the breathing exercise and I realize, I've never done this at a Vinyasa yoga class.  Oh crap.  This is Bikram. (Note: I think there might be some copyright issues associated with Yoga to the People calling it a Bikram class, but I'm using the term to help differentiate between the two types of Yoga).  So now, I'm slightly panicked for a second because the last Bikram class I took was so miserable.  Relax, Nicole, just breathe.  I'm trying lots of new exercise classes, so lets just think of this one as a new exercise class to try.

OK.  With the new change in attitude that suddenly my relaxing Sunday afternoon yoga was going to be a grueling exercise class, I threw myself into the class. This class was better than the first Bikram yoga class I took. Here's why:

  1. The instructor was more nurturing.  While she did count and clap and do all those things I hated, she also provided praise and support when necessary.  She wasn't as abrasive.
  2. I took a different approach to it.  I think this class showed me that attitude is half of it. I was so pissed off last time that I was not in a relaxing yoga class, that I literally made no attempt to make the best of it, and instead just sat down and gave up. 
  3. I knew what I was getting into once I realized that it was not Hot Power, and was able to anticipate the class better, which made me feel more comfortable.  Your first Bikram Yoga class is not easy mostly because you have absolutely no idea what to expect.
  4. It was only $8 to change my attitude towards Bikram, not $40. 
I still do not like Bikram Yoga.  However that is an upgrade from hating it.  I still feel like half the challenge is not getting sick in the heat.  I also felt like if I'm looking it from the perspective of an exercise class, I don't feel like I got a good workout.  I sweat more than I've ever sweat before, but I don't feel like I was pushed cardiovascularly or that my muscles got a great workout.  I think that people who probably do Bikram regularly enjoy it and get more benefit out of it. However, my goal is to get into shape while switching up the activities I do, so one Bikram class did not really help me towards that goal. 

To sum up, I would not take Bikram, or a hot yoga class like Bikram, again.  I am glad I took it a second time because it did change my opinion of Bikram to a more positive one.  It's just not for me, but I can now see why people do it regularly.  

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