There are many definitions of success. Last Sunday, success for me was defined as making it through my first Bikram Yoga (or Hot Yoga) class without passing out. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, so I imagined it was something like doing yoga in a sauna. To be even more honest, I’m not a huge fan of yoga. I think mostly because I lack the patience to do the same moves repeatedly in very, very slow motion (so it seems to me). To me, exercising and burning calories means running on a basketball court or riding a bike uphill, not posing my body to look like a tree or a cobra. But…the idea of hot yoga was somewhat interesting to me, so I decided “What the heck…it’s worth a try.”
I got my friend to agree to attend the 90-minute Bikram yoga class with me. I’ve learned that when I plan to work out with others, I’m more likely to show up because I don’t want to flake out on them. I’m much more flaky when it’s just myself. Here’s a tip for those of you who find it hard to motivate yourself to work out: Find a workout buddy! It’s good for accountability as well. We went to the 5pm class on Sunday at the Pacific Century Club near Sanlitun. Drop-ins cost 150RMB and include two large towels, a locker, and a yoga mat which is provided in the studio. I’d suggest you bring an extra hand towel (to soak up your sweat) and a large bottle of water, which you’ll need to replenish your fluids.
I walked down to the yoga studio, took off my shoes outside the door, and walked inside. Immediately I was hit by a wave of heat, and sweat droplets began to form all over my body. However, it wasn’t as hot as I’d expected. So…not as hot as a sauna. Nonetheless, I was definitely dripping the ENTIRE time, and it felt great, like I was losing pounds of water weight. The one downside (besides the discomfort) of sweating so much is, when we did various poses and turned our heads or tucked our heads down, the sweat would drip into my eyes. And burn. Which is quite strange…and frightening. What kinds of toxins must I have on my skin, that when my sweat drips down into my eyes it actually burns??
Anyway, it was a great Bikram yoga class overall. The instructor, John, was patient and had a soothing voice to guide us through the poses (he taught in English but also spoke a little Chinese). He got to know each person’s name so that he could correct our poses, and constantly reminded us that if it was our first class, it was totally okay to lie down or rest if you’re feeling faint. The first half of the class was a lot harder, and focused on core and balance. I was so surprised when he said that the class was halfway done, as the time had passed faster than I’d thought. The second half of the class was more about flexibility. We did about two sets of each pose, and rested on our backs in between.
While the heat and humidity was a bit overwhelming at first, it wasn’t too hard to get used to, and I learned to breathe deeply through it. I think the fact that it was Bikram yoga, and I was drenched in sweat the entire time, made it feel like I was working out harder. I would definitely go again before the wedding, though probably not any time soon since the 150RMB fee put a bit of a dent in my unemployed wallet.Pacific Century Place Southside, Pacific Century Club Entrance 2A Gong Ti Bei Lu Chaoyang District, Beijing, PRC 100027 tel: (86-10) 6539-3434 Soma Yoga Class Information (look for Bikram in the class schedule): http://somahotyoga.com/pages/studio