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I’m new to this yoga malarkey. I hate the gym, struggle with the faff of swimming and need to be locked in a class with someone telling me what to do to actually complete an hour of exercise. So after considering my options, yoga seemed to be the perfect fit. After my 18 years of ballet training, a controlled class of gentle stretchers was just what I needed.
So off I trotted to my local studio. After perusing the menu of yoga types (and there are a lot FYI – it was almost as tricky as choosing something from a Chinese takeaway menu) I decided on restorative yoga. It was a Wednesday, I was exhausted and still had to get through the next two weekdays so thought it would be perfect to relax. As I was waiting for the class, the previous class departed looking sweaty, radiant and full of energy. Looking at the board I noticed this was the Bikram yoga class. I’d heard horror stories about it but no one looked in pain here – if anything they looked gleeful. If they can do it, I can. They were all about the same age and build as me – and more importantly, looked fantastic!
So next week there I was, an hour earlier and waiting for the Bikram class. Only it wasn’t the heavenly ‘sleeping’ yoga from the week before. I was about to enter into a whole world of pain. Here’s why…
1. The teacher
If you’ve been to a new class you’ll know it starts with a mortifying ‘Raise your hand if you’ve never tried Bikram Yoga’ at which point the whole class stop and stare at any newcomers. Naturally, I asked what to expect and the reply was ‘Just try and make it through the class’. Super. Brilliant start.
2. The sweat
Unlike the glowing girls from the week before, I looked nothing like them. I’m not a super girly girl so can handle some sweat but I was literally dripping – and not in a good way. It actually started to make me shake in the same way you do when you’ve got the flu. The heat continued to rise…
3. And whilst we’re on the subject of heat…
Ok, so I knew it’d be hot. But if you imagine what it feels like after ten minutes in a sauna, this is for 9 times as long. Even a simple downward dog made my head feel like it was about to burst and I could feel (and see) my hands pulsating continuously. Not even Turkey in August is that hot.
4. When does this end?
It lasts a full 90 minutes – that’s like watching three whole episodes of Girls! It feels like the torture will never end and you just feel dizzier and dizzier, it was unbearable. (N.b. try to turn your back to the clock – I was facing it and that made it much worse. Blissful ignorance is much kinder to the soul).
5. The aftermath
So I dragged myself out of the lesson behind the perky yoga bunnies and by the time I reached home my nose was streaming, my eyes were still watering and my throat was throbbing. Apparently, over time, sweating out toxins is good for you, but at that point I crawled into bed and didn’t move for hours.