Interview: Callie’s First Hot Yoga Experience

Hi again, friends!

My friend, Callie, and I went to a yoga class over the weekend. Since it was her first experience with Bikram yoga, I decided to ask her some questions about the class. She makes some great points and gives advice on what to expect; if you’re considering trying it, read her answers and check it out for yourself! (you could also answer these questions yourself and send them to me! One of my passions is taking away the jargon and exclusivity away from fitness – I’d love to compile a “normal-person’s guide to hot yoga!”).

Callie and I after our mud run, summer 2012

How were you feeling before you walked in?

I was nervous before I entered the studio. I have always viewed yoga as much of a spiritual practice as it is physical so I wanted to be really respectful. I was scared I would break a rule or hold back the class, but I was also really excited.

How did you get oriented in the studio?

The instructor was at the front desk as I was checking in and made a point to talk to me when he found out I was new. He gave me a quick run down of what to expect, told me how the room was set up and encouraged me to take a break if I needed it. The key points I recall were:

  • You won’t be jumping all over the place but your heart rate will be up.
  • Bikram is different than flow yoga because you’ll be holding the poses longer.
  • It’s good to push yourself but if you feel like something is going to break you should stop.
  • Silence is observed in the studio. (This was important for me as I can be a nervous talker but also like to be a rule follower and hate being shushed.)

After the overview I walked in to the studio. Trying to ignore the heat, I did a quick survey of the room and just tried to mimic how the others in the class were set up. Luckily it was pretty simple. Mirrors were in the front of the room. Mats were perpendicular to mirror. After I was in place I noticed an individual seemingly deep in thought and likewise deep into what looked to me a very uncomfortable pose. Then I motioned to Megan to come with me back in to the lobby so I could get the last of my nervous chatter out of my system.

What was the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise to me was how quickly the heat went from feeling pressing to feeling comforting, kind of like what I imagine those sweaters do for dogs during thunderstorms. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t forget the heat was there but I knew it was serving a purpose and in the moment I appreciated it for that.

What was the toughest moment?

Honestly, I expected the whole hour to be tough. I knew I would be out of my league so I didn’t really get frustrated when I did something like fall out of a pose. I imagine the frustration would come later if I kept up with it.

What was the happiest moment? Probably when we were doing eagle pose (side question to Megan – “twisted arms and legs, is that eagle?” Megan – “yes!”) My brain alone couldn’t will me and my body alone couldn’t hold me but when I trusted both of them to play their part I was able to do it.

How did you feel after the class?

Centered. Strong. Aware of my body and my thoughts.

What advice would you give someone about to attend their first Bikram class?

Keep an open mind, hydrate before, during and after, tell the teacher you are new, focus on yourself (not the people around you) and BREATH.


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