When I last left you, I had just had an epiphany that I needed to do something to maintain my health and wellness as I aged. I did not want to continue to be constantly sore, nor did I want to feel worse as I aged…more on that below.
I started looking around for a hot yoga studio to try and luckily found one that was close to my home and fire station. As I knew pretty little about yoga, I just looked for something nearby that was hot and this was what I found: Bikram Yoga Edmonton South.
At the time, Bikram Yoga meant nothing to me and could mean nothing to you now. Bikram Yoga is a set sequence of 26 poses practiced the same way every class in a room between 37-40C. All it said on the website was to arrive early, wear shorts, and bring a yoga mat and towel. So I borrowed a cheap yoga mat my wife had, a towel from the closet, shorts and a t-shirt.
When I arrived at the studio 15mins before the class started, the receptionist said I was the last person they could have in the class as it was full. I was like… “okay…really…for a yoga class?”. All right…whatever, I thought. She said, “don’t worry, it will look full but just try and find a spot, there will be room for you”.
I went and got changed and then entered the studio, well I at least attempted to enter. If you have ever been to a Bikram Yoga studio there is an unforgettable smell that can come out of the room. When Bikram Choudrey (the inventor of the 26 yoga posture routine) franchised his business, he was adamant that the studios had to use carpet on their floor. This has changed now where most studios have a more reasonable and cleanable floor but not when I started at this studio.
The problem is that profusely sweating humans, in multiple yoga classes per day, on a carpet, make for a very unique (aka awful) smell. I walked into the room, it was 40C and I got hit with the heat and the odour and I was like, “what am I even doing here?”. I guess I made the journey to get here, had paid my money, so I better try and find that spot.
The next problem was finding that spot for my mat as I was the 50th person in the room. Someone saw me standing their dumbfounded and quietly directed me to a spot against the left wall. I was in the second row of 4 and followed what everyone else was doing and laid on my mat waiting for the class to start. I was thinking, “this is crazy, it’s hot and it stinks, what have I got myself into?”.
The teacher finally came in and started class. If there was ever a person who was a fish out of water in a yoga studio, it was me. I had no idea what I was doing other than trying to follow everyone else in the room and the teacher’s instructions. Things seemed to move at a frantic pace and before long, I was covered in sweat, my head was swimming, and my body was lurching into positions I didn’t know were even remotely possible.
As the class progressed, I got very light-headed and felt like leaving the room and was about to leave. However, in Bikram yoga they do everything they can to keep you in the hot room; so I stayed, and somehow struggled through the remainder of the class. It was a bewildering experience of heat, sweat, and contorting my muscle-bound body into all the weird positions.
It kicked my butt. I had never sweated that much, felt that close to passing out or been challenged that way in all the sports I had done. It was a similar feeling I had when I had spent all night working at a fire – absolutely exhausted. I had maybe accomplished 30% of the class, the rest I just flopped around from one position to the next wondering when the 90 minutes of hell was going to be over.
At the end of class, I rushed out of the room to get fresh air and get out of the cramped quarters, the heat, and the odour. I found a bench and sat there for a few minutes contemplating what I had just put myself through. But then, the endorphins hit, and I started to feel amazing and that feeling continued for the rest of the day.
Being a frugal person, I made sure I attended as many classes as I could during my 2-week trial so that I could get my money’s worth. Little did I know that those 2 weeks it would start me on a completely different life path and lead me to where I am now. I had gone to the class on a whim and a dare and now here I was, going to yoga classes and loving it. I can’t remember how many classes I attended in those two weeks but it was enough to get me hooked and to start exploring what yoga meant for me.
Next time I will share how this 2-week yoga trial started me doing more yoga and even introducing yoga to the firefighters I worked with. Imagine, firefighters, doing yoga, who would have ever guessed it?