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I was so excited when I saw the sign go up: a hot yoga place open only a mile or so from my house. I kept meaning to try it out, but I kept putting it off until I could take full advantage of the 10 days for $20 deal they were offering. I was sure I would want to go every day, and didn’t want to miss even a single class just because I had a conference or would be traveling or something like that. All I can say now is, ha! But I digress as usual.

I was no stranger to the practice. The first time I did hot yoga — a series of 26 yoga poses and breathing exercises done in a room heated to 105 degrees — I was 18 weeks pregnant. Sounds crazy, I know. I was expecting Big Girl at the time, and away by myself for the first time ever. Sure, it was a work trip — reporting on Thai Yoga Massage for several publications — but the location was pretty sweet.

I was at Kripalu, which is my ultimate happy place. (Kripalu is first; Woodloch Pines and Disney World are tied for second and third.) I decided to give it a go because I was there on a long weekend, mentally struggling being pregnant, and just wanted to expand my mind and repertoire. Besides, I wasn’t showing yet, and I was extremely fit. I had just taken 2/3 of a black belt test; I was doing two exercise classes a day, and I was teaching yoga, too, so I knew I could handle it. And I had plenty of water with me.

I fell in love with the class. The yoga itself was nothing, but the mental challenge was huge. In that hot room I had plenty of time to think about my pregnancy and how it would change my life, what I wanted for myself and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I finished the class, and felt invigorated. Once Big Girl was born I continued the practice at a studio about ten miles from my house, but I had to stop after a short while. It was too far and too much of a time suck to continue going. That said I expected the same experience yesterday when I finally walked into my local hot yoga place. I was sorely disappointed.

First off, the room was much hotter than I remembered. Much. And the 26 Bikram yoga poses aren’t really my favorites aside from Garurasana (Eagle pose) and Trikonasana (triangle pose). And even Trikonasana didn’t deliver because Bikram practitioners do it differently. They bend their front knee, which eliminates the incredible hip stretch that I love. And yes, I was struggling mentally, but mostly because I was so uncomfortable. I truly wasn’t having fun. My heart was beating so hard I could hear it in my head, and I felt weird. It wasn’t even a challenge. It was just annoying. (It could have been that I was not drinking enough, too. The instructor yelled at me when I took a sip after the third pose telling me the “class all drinks together after Garurasana.” And asking me to refrain from drinking until then — the fourth pose.) The class was 90 minutes. I stuck it out for 75 minutes before giving in and leaving.

I arrived at home and had to knock on the storm door, locked to keep the ever-fearless Little Girl from escaping. My husband stared at me incredulously. “What is wrong with your face?!?” My entire body was bright red. I looked like I had rosacea all over my body. I was dizzy. I was actually feeling cold and it was in the 70s yesterday. My hair was soaked. My clothing was soaked. I needed a shower, some fluids and a quick rest. I started feeling better after an hour or two. My pasty-white coloring came back around the same time the spinning stopped.

This morning I woke up and, despite the fact that I am proficient if not really good at most of the 26 poses, I was hurting all over. My hamstrings. My back. My triceps. The front of my quads. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this. I’m almost thinking I should give the class another try. Maybe I went into the room dehydrated. Or maybe the room itself was too hot. Or maybe I didn’t drink enough. Or maybe, as an old karate friend on Facebook said: I’m not a kid anymore. I’m not sure. So after mulling all these thoughts I have decided that I am going to rest for a day or two and give hot yoga another try — a different night and hopefully a different teacher. (And I’m going to sit right next to the thermostat so I can see if it is indeed too hot in the room.) And if I feel as terrible at that class? I’m going to respectfully and quietly leave the class. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What’s your take on Bikram or hot yoga? Crazy? Wonderful? Have you ever left a yoga class or any class for that matter? I’d love to hear about it.

3 Responses to “Hot Yoga Made Me Feel Not-So-Hot”

  1. Minda says:

    Ah, Karen, only you would try going back after an experience like that one!

    I’m curious about hot yoga myself as I love super-hot baths and saunas. If my beloved local studio offered it I’d certainly be willing to try it, on the other hand my yoga is much more beginner-level than yours and I really am not a kid anymore.

    Triangle pose with bent knee? So it’ really side-angle pose then?

  2. kb says:

    Exactly, Minda! It’s not triangle pose at all! So annoying! It *is* side-angel pose!

    I’m planning on going to the class tonight. I will tell you how it turns out!

    And thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate it!

  3. Kelly says:

    Hi! I stumbled on your blog somehow and just read this post on Bikram from about six months ago. I hope you went back and tried it again and had a better experience. It is totally normal to feel the way you felt in that room – the fact that you don’t remember feeling that way the first time around (especially given the fact that you were pregnant) is remarkable and probably due to how fit you were at the time. But the more you go, the better you will feel. My instructor said during class the other day that you do Bikram because of how you feel an hour or two after class. I actually really enjoy the intensity of the hot room, but do usually get pretty nauseated during camel. I usually have to sit the first set out and then rejoin for the second.

    Take care!

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