Saturday, March 12, 2011

Baby's First Bikram Yoga

Let's Hang Out. Oops, nope. I have to go to yoga. Oh, Bikram yoga. For most of my life, I have avoided you because:
(basically me and my new friends)

1. I don’t like to stretch.
2. I have a hard time thinking you can do anything proactive in your life while just wiggling around in place.
3. My hips don’t move. Or they move just as well as a middle schooler in gym class when you’re coerced into square-dancing and don’t want to interact with the boy you were assigned to, so you just wobble around and barely let him touch your hands during promenade. Life-long trauma. (This is why I can never be BeyoncĂ©.)
4. If we were supposed to be upside-down doing toe-touches all the time, we would have our faces upside-down on our heads, so we could still ward off predators.
(I found this on google images. Thanks, America, for being so weird that you saved me the time of having to transpose a face upside-down on a head.)

5. Yoga reminds me of fermented bacteria. Probably because it sounds like yogurt. Ohhhh. Okay. I just figured that out. Oh, my gosh. Breakthrough.

But everybody keeps talking about it. Yoga-doers (yogis? yogurts?) are evangelists for their sport. I mean it. They just talk about its virtues all the time until you believe them. And then you are struck with such profound cognitive dissonance because you believe yoga is the best thing in the whole world and yet have never actually done it. So you start doing yoga in your room using the online yoga channel. But the online yogi definitely enjoys listening to his own voice and keeps talking and talking so that it becomes obvious why it’s free, and then you catch yourself checking your email during the dead body pose. It’s all over then because you’re supposed to NEVER check your email during yoga. Rule number one, they say: Never check your email. Rule two: No snot rockets.

You're welcome, trail runners. (My mom hates when I write the words “snot rockets,” so I try to include that in every entry. Teenage rebellion, I guess, except I never rebelled in my teens. Wayyyy too busy doing homework.)

Then, one day, a Groupon arrives in your inbox saying you can do Bikram yoga for a whole month for $30. (This is unreal.) So you do it.

At my first class, I sat right next to the heater because somebody had to sit there. I’d rather I be the one having the biggest suffer fest to maximize edification. Plus, I wish all of life were held in a sauna.

Then the yoga instructor got us into this pose-thing [a technical term] and said, “This is bringing rapid oxidation to your brain. It’s going to make you smarter.” And well, I’m already smart enough to know that her statement was false because it was during a slow twitch posture—lots of mitochondria and myoglobin, therefore slow oxidation—but still, that’s the most seductive thing she could have said about Bikram, and maybe I’ll stay for life. Seductive. This is the first and the last time I will ever use that word in my blog. Why? It's rarely applicable.

So anyway, the room was full of Yalies who perked up just then, drooling about increasing their brain efficiency. The yoga instructor definitely knew her audience. And I held that pose for an extra couple seconds because I am competitive and wanted the biggest brain. The girl to my left did the same thing; I watched her. And she watched me. Brain envy. This is real.

Thinking about your own brain is a little nuts. Once you start analyzing its processes, you stop thinking and start thinking about thinking (meta-cognition), like Hegel—when you turn your lens in on itself. It’s like when you tell yourself not to look at your nose, and then all you can see is your nose, everywhere you look. And now I’m looking at my nose. Awesome. And now I’m thinking about my brain. Terrific.
(Savasana--Dead Man Pose. I naturally assume this posture after a 24-hour run. Does that make me a yoga expert? Probably.)

I had several other reservations about yoga. It is only held at awkward times in the day, and it requires so much stuff! You have to get a mat, bring two towels, a water bottle, and clothes for after. And you do Bikram in short-shorts and a sports bra! So I was like, "Heck no am I going to wear that to yoga. It's so revealing. I will save those clothes for the privacy of my own..............long runs in the forest and sprinting through traffic, while dodging pedestrians." You have to draw the line somewhere.

In conclusion, I think we all learned something here today. Yoga is related to yogurt not at all, or at least only to the extent that pilates pertains to pirates.

But this is a new journey that I’m on. I think yoga will make me stronger and less likely to get injured as I add training volume. I would love to hear your opinions on this. Is yoga actually good for running, or is it all in everybody’s heads? In reality, I find that the thing that most improves my running is...wait for it...wait for it...RUNNING. I will keep you updated. I will be a yoga spy runner.

(This has nothing to do with yoga, but I'm going home to New Jersey next week to go run, hike, and camp. Furthermore, I'm going to be an artist if Philosophy doesn't work out. Here is my first artistic sample to share with the world. More to come.)


  1. I definitely think yoga will help. But I've always been a big fan of stretching - and as I get older I need stretching & yoga even more.

  2. Good! I'm excited to see how much it helps. I already feel looser on my runs. Plus, it's pretty fun!

  3. dear sabrina,
    your blog inveigles me into wanting to run and to enlarge my brain. you may be the most seductive moran on the web. definitely more seductive than that other sabrina.

  4. I do 5-10 mins. yoga after running. I've never taken a class -- got the moves from various mags and from the Web -- tt's still made a world of difference for me. Keep at it! :)

  5. Caitie Rountree, your anonymous comments are hilarious. Nobody else in the world would write that to me.

    Gentry, that's so cool! I think I might steal away these moves after a while of taking classes so I don't have to keep paying for them. It's probably how you're able to run for years on end, every day without injury. Awesome.

  6. I love bikram. For several reasons: for the heat, because I get to hang out in my bra and undies for 90 minutes listening to the absolutely ridiculous things that come out of the instructors' mouths (the other day the teacher mentioned a certain pose was "watering our lymphatic system"--Really? Where's the data on that one? The list goes on and on.... But the main reason I go back is because it kicks my ass, and I think it's a good balance with running. I started going when I was trying to rehab some ankle issues; and I think it's great for that. You spend a long time balanced on one leg, and that was part of my prescribed PT. And, the way it makes my legs shake, it must be working a bunch of other things, too. Plus, I love to sweat, and in the PNW, it's one of the few outlets for really sweating (we're talking buckets of sweat) all winter.

  7. Hahaha, Amy you perfectly captured its essence. Sometimes the things the instructor says about its benefits are bizarre...but I kind of believe them! Good to know about the ankle rehab!! --Mine are tight, too. Thanks for the feedback. Now I know I have a friend across the country sweating buckets, too. :)

  8. I love your blog. I am amazed at the fact that you were able to use "snot rockets" "seductive" AND "Hegel" into a post.
    I just tried Bikram myself and it is hopelessly addicting! Being ultrarunners it must be the suffering aspect that seals the deal.

  9. Uuummm, p.s. I love you?!? Yes, I love you. Way to suffer next to the heater on purpose. You are a crazy person.

    I defs think that making your body do things you're not accustomed to (even you, body-knowledgable friend) is good for you. So long as you're careful. I will be interested to hear the results of your spying!

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  11. As a pretty dedicated runner 25+ miles/week, I recently became seduced by "the Bikram." So much so, that I took almost a month hiatus from running (unbelievable) and went to yoga 5-6x/week (I kept cycling though)! When I came back to running about 2 weeks ago, I found that I could run stronger, faster, and my average heart rate was almost a full 10-15 bpm less than it would have been for my typical run (distance speed). It just seemed "easier" all around. There must be something to those strength and breath benefits they tout. I'm hooked.