Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bikram Yogurt

 Me doing a yoga pose. Just kidding. The day I attempt this is the day I lose my face.

One day, my friend, Katharine, and I sprinted into Bikram New Haven. The people in the elevator held the door for us begrudgingly, firing enmity at us with their rigid anti-yoga anger postures. We all waited there in angst, clutching our towels and mats and definitely not making eye contact because bikram studios are battlegrounds, and anyway, we lived in the northeast.

There is a palpable social distress syndrome called Bikram Anxiety (that I just made up), and it is communicable and pernicious. You probably go to yoga class to alleviate your stress because that’s what bikram says it can do for you if indeed you can make your forehead touch your knees. (I can’t. Unrealistic.) But the net relaxation gain is less than you’d expect because of the drama that precedes it. Still, I will go because cross-training is indispensable if I want strength and longevity in my running.

Katharine and I exploded ourselves out of the aggressive elevator, into the bikram outer room, which was underground because bikram has its resonances with Dante’s Inferno. We were greeted by our classmate--bikram genius, Elise--who worked at Bikram New Haven’s front desk because she is such a beam of joy.

We pulled off our outer layers, tossed our shoes against the wall, and rushed into the studio, where we strategically threw down our mats, like they were flags and we were claiming plots of land while expanding into the Western Frontier. The key is to set your mat down next to someone who looks less bendy than you, but there is really no way of knowing. Then we had to lie down for the remaining 11 seconds before class started, so that the teacher could come in and tell us to stand up. It’s protocol.

On one occasion, at the Falls Church Bikram Studio, a ten-year-old girl was in the class, rolling around on the floor like a diva every time the heat felt oppressive, and I wished I could have joined her. I was glad her mat was next to mine because I looked like such a pro. Sometimes you think you’re sitting next to a non-athlete, and it will turn out she’s basically Gumbi, and your flaws, by juxtaposition, will be all the more pronounced. But this was one instance where I chose the correct floor plot.

Here are the 26 postures, or a pictorial of 26 things I cannot do
A long time ago in my youth, in 2011, I attended my first bikram yoga class. If you don’t know what bikram is, you are not missing out. It is a 90-minute pre-set series of 26 yoga postures that is performed in a room set to 105°F and 40% humidity with 25 strangers. Pretty casual. I like that it is suffocatingly warm because: 1) It makes you feel like you are being hugged by the atmosphere. 2) Cold is the worst feeling in the world. It’s worse than feeling misunderstood. It is worse than running out of cereal. In my daily life, I anticipate the frozen food aisle with such trepidation that it almost makes the frozen packages of steamed broccoli not worth it. I wish all of life were held in a sauna. I wish microwaves were for people. I wish turtlenecks were a fashion must-have. And living in the winter in the northeast is the worst because you have to run outside in two layers of pants. Your pants have to wear pants. Regardless, it was a real process to motivate myself to get there in the first place, and then the class itself was disastrous for a number of reasons: I’m not exceptionally bendy. I don’t like to make errors in public. It was hard. My leg length to body size ratio is erroneous, I’m pretty sure. (I reported on it here.) 

What I didn’t know was that at the first class, the yogi (yogurt?) was recording the class because he was going to sell it. So for the rest of my yoga life, he teased me for being the object of his chastisement one million times that day, for all of posterity, for anyone who buys that recording. I stand humbled.

Still, I like bikram because it is awful in all the right, edifying ways, and it challenges me to an extent that makes me want to cry, which I have not experienced in straight running-training in a long time. Did I mention it is warm? I still go, periodically, but now I attend be-husbanded (with my husband). Bikram is difficult, and I know about it…so I’m going to do it.

Running is going well! I have been training consistently and doing the things that I love--long runs and weighted squats. I enjoyed a visit to my hometown, Vernon, New Jersey, over break. It was beautiful and reanimated my affections for the outdoors. 

In Texas, I am in Athlete Exile right now, without training partners. It didn’t bother me last year because I entered Texas like a freight train, continuing training patterns and strategies I had implemented successfully in the past, but not having people with similar racing goals is starting to wear on me and make me feel discouraged. When I’m with non-ultrarunners I feel like I run too much, and then on the rare occasion that I happen upon an ultrarunner, I feel like a slubberdegullion (a slovenly, slobbering person) for not running enough. I do, however, have an awesome husband who will run with me for up to 20 miles, so I shouldn’t whine.

It’s been fun reading everyone’s end of year reports! Keep up the great things. Below are some snapshots of fun things that happened this year. Blessings for a GREAT 2014.

Team RWB Trail Camp: So much fun and tremendously inspiring. You guys, let's support our troops.
State Champs!

Elise (the bikram friend) got married. We got to watch (and DANCE).


  1. best. blog. on. planet. bar. none. :-)

  2. I always get doubly excited when I see a Bikram post on your blog!
    After a 9 month hiatus I am back again as well. How I do I love that heat!

    Also, you find the BEST pictures.

  3. You're great. I miss you.

    I understand your sauna love. But being from Florida, I basically wish I lived in a steam room.

    Am currently wearing only one set of sweatpants, but I'm indoors