Respectfully submitted by interns Alecia & Mary.
At some point last week our esteemed colleague and Vice President of RMS Media, Hugh Malone, decided the two young interns (myself and Mary) in his office could benefit from some character building. He started tossing around the idea of our accompanying him to the yoga class he attends weekly, and as two young college students of exceptional aversion to cardiovascular exertion of any kind, yoga sounded right about our speed. “Why not?”
Why not, indeed.
It is important to mention that this conversation came at the tail end of the ominous, and one might have assumed meteorologically impossible, 30-day streak of black rain that had plagued Massachusetts throughout June, and which we had come to more or less accept as the prelude to the End of Days. Consequently, it was with distracted, gloomy mindsets and low energy that we signed on for what we expected to be a relaxing forty-five minutes of stretching and humming along with sitar music.
It was over the course of the day leading up to our first class that a few potential red flags started popping up. Our first tip off that we were in for an experience of a certain physical and psychological intensity should have been the series of pained grimaces and mocking giggles the discussion of our participation had evoked that morning in the Northshore offices: “Oof, I did that onceÂ…” “Make sure you drink water, I mean lots of water, and bring a towel, or several towelsÂ…” “HmmÂ… good luck with that.”
Did we really appear so woefully out-of-shape at the reasonably young ages of 20 and 22 that it was a genuine likelihood we could be outmatched by a yoga class? Indignant, we took to the Internet. “Oh, no.” It turns out, Yoga is not yoga, there are kinds of yoga, and the one we had signed up for was Bikram Yoga, the extra-enlightening and mind-clearing kind enjoyed by true devotees and the Hollywood crowd. Bikram Yoga is 90 minutes of consistent movement practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. I’ll treat you all to a direct quote from Wikipedia “It is common for beginners to experience dizziness and nausea. Beginners may feel faint or pass out.” This information alone was enough to make me feel faint, if not trigger a full-blown anxiety attack, but Hugh (who, keep in mind, employs us) quickly convinced us it was an experience worth having, and we might even enjoy it.
And so it came to be that we arrived at Bikram Yoga of the Merrimack Valley for a 5:00pm class on a Wednesday full of apprehension. The rain had not even marginally let up and we were in black moods to begin with, to say nothing of the terror we had managed to build up in one another over the long course of the day. We changed into what we deemed acceptable 105 degree-attire and started chatting up a few of our classmates, though the extremely generous and kindly manner of the instructors did much to put us at ease, the exceptional physical condition and evident karmic balance of seemingly all those around us did not. Nor did the advice of the instructor not to drink coconut water too near class time, as I probably didn’t “want too much in your stomach.” Gulp.
Walking into the classroom was like getting hit in the face with a hot shovel. The heat was mind-blowing, it was difficult to sit in there, it was beyond imagining how we manage 90 of physical exertion. We were advised by the lovely and extremely considerate instructor to lay down at any point we became dizzy or sick during the class, and to aim overall simply to remain in the room the entire ninety minutes. Having been forewarned that most people don’t manage this their first time around, I mentally swore I would and looked to Mary for solidarity, she grinned infuriatingly at me, thrilled by the challenge and visibly nearly bouncing with excitement and suddenly the two years of age I had on her at 22 felt like a decade, my back already hurt from the thought of the class.
It started with breathing. Sounds easy, right? You might assume you are already reasonably adept at breathing after how ever many days you have spent on the earth, but tell me, on how many of those days was it 105 degrees? The simple breathing didn’t last nearly as long as I would have liked it to, and before I could mentally prepare we had launched into the series of 26 repeated poses that comprise a Bikram yoga class. Some were manageable enough, such as stretching to touch your toes or balancing on one foot, while others were laughably impossible. At one point we were actually expected to balance on our right foot with the left leg crossed behind the right, while simultaneously doing the same general things with our arms, and then twisting sideways, an instruction (and accompanying visual) that actually caused me to laugh out loud and plop down on the floor in forfeit.
I learned quickly not to look to Mary as a comrade in this foolish venture as she was not only immediately adept at every single nonsensical pose that was asked of us, but was also visibly enjoying herself. I lost track of time quickly enough, due in part to the demand for perpetual intense focus in order to avoid falling over and in part due to the intense waves of lightheaded dizziness that I actually sort of enjoyed. On more than one occasion I simply failed to pick myself back up off the floor after a lying-down pose, gasping for oxygen while doing intense and unfamiliar exercise on the surface of the sun. However, by the end of the ninety minutes I found myself astonishingly flexible, if a little beaten up and with skin the color of an exotic fruit.
Sitting outside afterwards, recapping with Hugh and glaring at Mary for her impossible lack of dishevelment, it was generally agreed-upon that Bikram yoga had been a good idea. Will I go back? Probably not soon. But we were all in agreement that our minds were a little clearer and bodies more limber for the experience.
If anyone else has the guts to try out Bikram Yoga (and hats off to you) please, share your story here. We’ll be waiting (and sweating).