Morgan Jones | Bikram like Beckham
Nuggets of Wisdom | Cold this winter? Step out of “the bubble” and try hot yoga
January 10, 2013, 12:29 am·
Nuggets of Wisdom
I wasn’t always a believer.
When my friend Claire proposed we take a Bikram Yoga class on the grounds that it would rejuvenate our spirits, strengthen our resolve and focus our minds, I thought she was a little crazy. Then I looked around and noticed I had potato chip crumbs on my comfy sweats and had read the same paragraph in my book three times without absorbing the words.
Maybe she was right — I hadn’t left the “Penn bubble” in two weeks, and I needed to poke my head out for some air. Starting classes, thinking about internships and preparing for spring rush had consumed my attention and disconnected me from the outside world. My exercise was limited to taking the stairs to my room in lieu of the elevator — and I live on the second floor.
The weather had started to turn chilly and hot yoga didn’t sound so bad after all. Actually, it started to sound kind of good. We chased the spiders out of our eco-friendly yoga mats, stopped by Starbucks for our soy, fat-free, green tea lattes and walked downtown.
Bikram Yoga of Philadelphia sits at the corner of 15th and Sansom and hosts nine classes every weekday and five on Saturday and Sunday. As crazy busy as we all are in today’s get-it-done-yesterday society, we can all schedule at least one class.
Each class consists of the same sequence of 26 poses and two breathing exercises, so you can see marked improvement between sessions. This is good news for those of us who still can’t touch our toes.
Founder Bikram Choudhury developed the practice to improve physical and mental health by challenging the limits of both. We go to Penn, ergo we love mental challenges. Ergo bring it on, Bikram.
The practice has garnered celebrity followers including Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Lady Gaga and David Beckham. Unfortunately, none of them were present at my class.
First-time starving students will find the introductory price affordable as well since the first week of unlimited classes costs only $20, which is a third of the price of one 50-minute massage at Student Health. And trust me, this will improve your blood circulation and better stretch your muscle.
To the delight of some — and the disappointment of others — Bikram Yoga instructors rarely touch you. The level of physical exertion and deep stretching are completely under your control. Everyone responds to the heat and the poses differently, and because it is yoga, you are encouraged to go at your own pace.
Halfway through the class, some fellow yogis simply lay there, sipping from their water bottles and breathing deeply while rationalizing that that was what their pace was telling them to do. At this point, my pace was telling me to pick up croquet.
The one thing I do recommend is to never attend Bikram Yoga with anyone you ever have hopes of dating — this in not a first-date activity. The concern is not the workout attire — what guy doesn’t love women in spandex showcasing flexibility, and what girl doesn’t appreciate a balanced man striking the eagle pose?
No, it is because of the sweating. We are not talking about “glowing” or “perspiring.” We are talking about unleashing copious amounts of sweat in a 105-degree room with 40 percent humidity. Think jumping jacks in Atlanta in July. It’s not pretty. Maybe Channing Tatum could pull it off — maybe.
A weekly session can, however, help clear your head while putting projects and purpose into perspective. Stretching out of your comfort zone is healthy and rewarding, and physical exertion can help keep your mind fresh and your stress levels low.
Claire and I both felt amazing after Bikram Yoga. And just think, with that extra $40 saved by forgoing a massage, we can now afford that second (or third) round of drinks at Copa and the bod to not care. Get out of the bubble. Just don’t forget your towel. Or maybe two.
Morgan Jones is a College junior from Colorado Springs, Co. You can email her at email@example.com or send her a tweet @morganjo_. “Nuggets of Wisdom” appears every Thursday.