Heavy Breathing, Bikram Style

Check another ‘first’ off my list.

I attended my very first yoga class this morning. Not just ANY yoga class, but BIKRAM yoga. Hot yoga. Sweaty yoga. Slippery yoga. So-hot-you-think-you-might-pass-out yoga.

It is three hours post-class, and I am still feeling the after-effects. I have that flushed look about my face. I feel a bit sore, but not in the usual way. I feel as if my muscles have been gently and repeatedly stretched beyond anything I have ever done. I feel very awake. I am also thirsty and ravenous.

I also feel as if I just went out on a longish run. I’ll admit, I was skeptical as to the cardiovascular effect that yoga would have on me, but after 90 minutes of bending, stretching, and a bit of beginner contorting, I am a believer.

I feel good.

A friend I’ve had the pleasure of knowing through my CrossFit days was kind enough to accompany me to my inaugural class this morning, bright and early at 6:30 a.m. I walked in to the studio to find my tall, lithe, graceful, bendy friend tucked back in the corner, and I made my way over to her.

She looked absolutely beautiful. At this hour? It’s just not fair. And she looked like she knew exactly what the hell she was doing. I got nervous. I looked like a bit of an awkward duckling amongst a group of beautiful, graceful swans. She is calmly sitting on her yoga mat. Meanwhile, I am standing there next to her with my hoodie on, beginning to panic, feeling the sweat beads trickle down my back. “Where do I put my stuff?” I said to her. “Come with me. I’ll show you the locker room.”

With my huge, oversized hoodie safely tucked away, I ventured back into the sauna. Thank goodness I was in the back of the room. The only thing behind me was the wall.

We settled in and got started. First things first.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Loudly. Heavily.

This is where I nearly lost it. I’ve never been in a room full of other people who are simultaneously breathing heavily. Big, long inhales, followed by loud, whooshing exhales, and the body posture that goes along with it. I felt like a kid in a school play who has to pretend they are a bird. Standing Deep Breathing. Stand up straight, feet together. Inhale. Exhale and look at the wall behind you. The sound was actually quite loud. I wanted to giggle, but I wanted to look like I knew what the hell I was doing. I think I managed to pull it together in the end. The only time I have ever sounded like that, even remotely, was while running. Marathons. Toward the end. Hell….we had just gotten started this morning.

Oh boy.

Here. We. Go……..

I moved slowly and carefully between each of the 26 Bikram positions, and found that some poses were easier than others, and some weren’t as difficult as I envisioned. I have already identified a few that I want to focus on and become stronger. While I was doing my absolute best to attain and hold these positions, I admit it: I looked around.

So many beautiful, glistening, sweaty, toned bodies achieving these positions easily. Not everyone was able to do every pose, but it quickly became evident who the yoga pros were, and those who were still seeking that elusive position. I, on the other hand, did my best to do one thing:


I felt awkward at times, trying to get my body to bend in positions it has only heard about. I felt it protest beneath me. I heard things creaking as I shifted my weight. While my body was being put through all these positions, I was able to do one thing:

not fall down.

Because let’s face it: that would suck.

Yoga is relaxing, challenging, focused, and beautiful. All of the above. I was pleasantly surprised that I found the 90 minutes to flow nicely. I never felt like the class was too long or too brief. It was just right. I finally understood why people flock to it. I think everyone should try it at least once. Yeah. Including you. There were lots of different body types represented this morning, but even those that were bigger than some were still as graceful as ballerinas. And very bendy. And it was amazing to watch.

I glanced over at my friend as we began the second half of the class. We laid on our backs. She is so tall, I had to physically move my head up down just to see her entire lithe frame.

If I didn’t like her so much, I would hate her.

She was making this look incredibly easy. She has that enviable body. She’s tall. She’s long. She’s graceful. She’s beautiful inside and out. She’s also not just into yoga. She does CrossFit. She runs. I’m sure there’s more, but hey isn’t that enough?


But alas, she’s my friend, and she accompanied me to my very first venture into the world of yoga, and for that I am forever grateful.

And yeah, I’ll definitely do yoga again.

Tomorrow. And maybe even the day after that.

But first things first: hydrate.



7 thoughts on “Heavy Breathing, Bikram Style

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