“You only have to travel six inches in your life. That is the distance from your mind to your heart.” – Bikram Choudhury
Studio six on the Passport to Prana tour was Calgary Bikram Yoga in Marada Loop.
This was a big, huge first for me. I have never tried a Bikram class and have always been a little bit afraid of the practice.
Like the big nerd that I am, I decided to study up and read all about the practice to get more comfortable. I found out this style of yoga is done in a 105 degree heated room and follows a twenty-six asana series designed to scientifically warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Katey was excited to see that downward dog was not a part of the practice. My arms and shoulders were just as thankful.
We were greeted by Aly (Alli? Ali?), an energetic soul clad in only a towel. Friendly. She gave us one goal for our first class: just stay in the room for the full 90 minutes. No problem, child’s pose is my best friend if I’m feeling dizzy but I love the heat.
We set up in the back corner so we had a good sight line of the mirror and other students so we could follow along. In Bikram, the instructor does not demonstrate, instead they sit or stand on a raised alter shouting postures and instructions. As we settled into savasana to begin the class, I actually thought the room was a bit cool compared to the stories of sweat puddles I had heard and read.
Breathing exercise to warm up. I felt like a goof with my hands clasped under my chin, waving my elbows in and out like wings in time with my breath. Three postures until the first allowed water break. The room began to get warm.
“Go back, way back, fall back” commands Aly from her perch. The script started to grind on me, it wasn’t all as easy as her words dictated. I was bending back, I couldn’t see the wall, and definitely couldn’t see the floor. Oh, cramp.
Bend and stretch, and lock your knee, don’t move an inch, don’t even blink. Warm turned to hot. Here comes the sweat. More water.
Floor asanas next, I knew class was coming to an end. Rabbit pose.
You want me to do what?
I just began to laugh. Then like a switch flipped Aly came to my side, knelt beside me and encouraged me to keep trying. I did. I smashed the top of my head into my towel and pulled for my heels with all my might as I arched my back up.
Tight spine + boobs = unfriendly rabbit pose.
The class turned around for me at that moment. I tried a bit harder and listened as Aly called each student by name and gave gentle corrections and loud praise. She was so comforting; she liked my camel and said I looked experienced (oh shucks, you don’t know to flatter a girl). I was now a big puddle of sweat.
With each savasana the room got hotter. I could feel and see the beads of sweat dripping off my body. I felt cleansed and glorious, which is weird because that much sweat should make someone feel disgusting.
The studio was inviting, large and very clean. The staff and students were encouraging and friendly. I would definitely try Bikram yoga again, and I would gladly go back to the studio in Marda Loop – especially if Aly was teaching.
Best tips I recieved before my first class:
- drink LOTS of water. even more than you think is lots.
- just aim to stay in the class, and if you can try a few poses.
- be open to what happens in those 90 minutes, just go with it.
- bring a change of clothes for after class, and an extra towel to shower.