Saturdays and Sundays I go to Bikram Yoga East Harlem. Despite my misgivings about the man, I like the consistency of the practice, the studio is convenient and I am trying to use up my credits before they expire.
Today, I went to my usual 9AM class. The teacher welcomed me and specifically asked that I practice in the front row – which was a huge ego boost and I fully admit it’s why I am sharing it with you now. Very un-yoga of me but, sometimes it’s nice to feel proud. At 9AM on the dot, he came in and told us that class would start on time no matter what and that we only had 60 minutes so we needed to get going. 60 minutes?
Bikram Yoga is the same 26 postures plus two breathing exercises done over a 90-minute period. It is the same every time – the only thing that (normally) changes, is you. The repetition makes it a moving meditation, you don’t need to think. Today, not only did I think but I was super confused in my thoughts.
The class started with a single round of Pranayama breathing. Which was strange but OK with me as my shoulders often hurt after two rounds. The sequence went back to normal after that, albeit with less setup time between the postures. Then, just before standing head to knee, he suddenly says that we are going to flow. Not knowing what that meant, I guessed that we would continue with the quick pace from one pose to the next. No. We went from Standing Head to Knee on the right side straight into Standing Bow Pulling Pose and then Balancing Stick Pose. It was strange and I fell out of Standing Bow (one of my strongest postures) because I really couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening. After that first bump, I was able to see the pattern and when we went from Standing Separate Leg Stretching straight into Triangle Pose and then Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee I had gotten the hang of it.
Still rushing through one round of Tree straight into Toe Stand and one round of Head to Knee with Stretching before the Spine Twisting was offputting. The whole thing lacked the serenity that I usually find in a Bikram class. It’s demanding and sometimes impossible but also calming in its consistency. This was none of those things.
Maybe this is the push I needed. Maybe, when my credits expire, I can finally try something new for my weekends. A friend recently went to a Bikram class that turned in to a full blown Vinyasa class. Maybe this is the way some teachers and/or studio owners are trying to move away from him? Who knows. I’m (apparently) signed up for another 60 minute Bikram class tomorrow. Wish me luck.