February 7, 2012

Bikram Challenge: Day 2

Today was much easier, no doubt partially due to the heat acclimatization from yesterday's sweat-stravaganza. Also, the class was much smaller, maybe half the size of yesterday's (less body heat). We probably maxed out around 107F, but most of the class was at 105-6.

The instructor from yesterday just took the class as a participant -- I can see why she was the 2007 World Yoga Champion. Yikes. I had no idea some of the poses could be extended so far.

I am happy to state that I attempted at least one of all of the 26 postures and made it through both of most of them.

I fell out of one of the standing bow-pulling poses and decided it was a good time to take a standing break. I also opted out of the second tree pose for a kneeling break. On the floor, I rested instead of doing (i) the 2nd half lotus pose (man, that pose is *very* physically demanding); and (ii) the first bow-pulling pose. Also, I only did 5 seconds of the first camel with just the slightest backward lean with my hands on my lower back. I managed the entire second camel, but again, only with the slightest backward lean with my hands on my lower back.

So, of the 52 poses, I was able to get through 47. Yesterday, I probably only made it through 40 or so. I'd be thrilled to be able to complete the entire series by the end of this 10-day series.

This morning, I wasn't too sore, but now I can feel it. I suspect tomorrow's class will be a different challenge with the added obstacle of soreness.

In an interesting alignment of my life with pop culture, I listened to William Broad's interview on Fresh Air about his new book The Science of Yoga.

I was pleased to learn that Bikram does not include the poses he found to be the most dangerous: inversions that place the neck under extreme pressure in unnatural bends such as plow or shoulder stand (which many of my prior yogic studies have incorporated in their finishing series).

I was also amused to learn that most forms of yoga slow the body down and, if all other variables remain unchanged, will result in weight gain, not weight loss. I can confirm that during class, Bikram does not slow the body down. I took my pulse several times during today's class and it was right where it is when I'm in the middle of a run.

Finally, I have to say that Bikram definitely results in one type of awareness that I don't get from other yoga studies. Staring at your body in a mirror while contorting yourself, sweating heavily, and wearing very little clothing for 90 minutes means that there's no way to kid yourself about your current state of fitness. You can see how much you are struggling. You can see the actual form of your body in the various poses. This is a nice dovetail with my 2012 goal to get down to racing weight. I can visually see that some of these poses are more difficult than they could be, partially because I have excess mass getting in the way.

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