Working through the heat of Bikram yoga

I’ve been doing a lot lately to get myself out of the house and get my mind off of job hunting. Ever since I had back surgery when I was 18, yoga has been a part of my everyday routine. When I was in college, I took advantage of the free yoga classes offered by the fitness center. It has been several months since I have taken a formal yoga class, so I enrolled myself in one 30 minutes from my home.

Using my trusty Groupon app, I recieved a discount on five classes. The yoga studio is known for their Bikram, or hot yoga classes. The hour and a half class brought me out of my element and into the dry heat of the studio.

I was a little underprepared. I made sure to stretch before I left for the class with my yoga mat and ice water in tow. What was missing was a towel to place on my mat so I wouldn’t slip on my own sweat. Some very yoga-esque women in the locker room looked at me knowing that I was just a girl using a Groupon. Luckily, some of the class participants were kind and mentally prepared me for my first class. I ran back to my car and grabbed my spare towel realizing that everyone else had one. Also, I was cocky and didn’t think I would be sweating that much so I didn’t bring a change of clothing and shower supplies. I was sharp enough not to eat two hours beforehand.

The room was 103 degrees. I acclimated myself to the temperature by lying down in the room fifteen minutes before the class started. It brought me back to the unbearable heat in Volubilis, Morocco. The day our tour went to visit the Roman ruins at Volubilis, it was 110 degrees. There was no shade. Direct sunlight pounded on our necks. Our large waters we brought turned warm in fifteen minutes, but we still drank from them not risking dehydration. Our shawls covering our chests and shoulders slumped lower and lower. A few of us wanted to shed the extra clothing completely, but we were compelled by cultural norms. I thought of women in head to toe black burkas and I didn’t feel as sorry for myself. Still, we all thought in our head “great, another toppled over column” as our tour of Volubilis couldn’t be over quickly enough.

As I rested on my yoga mat, I thought back to the Spanish heatwave I endured without air conditioning in the homestay. We snuck into cafes and took in their AC and wifi during the day, but you couldn’t escape the heat at night. It’s rare that homes have air conditioning, even in western countries. Americans are spoiled when it comes to air conditioning.

How am I going to react to the heat when I make it to India one day? Am I going to stay inside or will I see the Konark Sun Temple? I pushed through the class, although at times I felt sick. I didn’t pressure myself to do every pose, but I did stay in the room for the duration. I left thinking that it’s funny we pay to sit in a room that is 103 degrees, when people all over the world have to work through those conditions everyday.

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