Apart from a 1 hour free taster session in South India last year, I’ve never really done the whole ‘yoga’ thing. I prefer my workouts to get me out of breath and slightly worn out at the end of it rather than relaxed and sleepy. But increasingly I’m seeing articles like this one which are telling me if I’m serious about running and staying injury free, incorporating yoga into my training plan is a must. And as many marathon runners know, marathon training is really just an exercise in avoiding injury. You can only defer your ballot place once so I’m determined to stay as healthy as possible over the next 12 months.
Let me just say this: I am incredibly inflexible. I can’t touch my toes. Even sitting on the floor cross-legged is a challenge. My current yoga level is more like this:
But then I heard about Bikram Yoga (or Hot Yoga) where they heat the room up to 40+ degrees. It’s yoga, but you sweat. A lot. Which makes me think you’ll almost feel like you’ve done a workout even if it is a class based on stretching. (I’m guessing – before today I literally knew next to nothing about what yoga is).
Before I went along to my local beginners Hot Yoga class I read the top ten reasons why runners love bikram yoga, yoga for runners and this blog and I’m beginning to think maybe I should take this new craze a bit more seriously?!
So I spent the day drinking lots of water like they advise you to do before you go along to a class, and subsequently running to the loo a lot! When you enter the room it feels like…if you’ve ever been to Delhi in their hottest month (May) – as I have – then it feels almost exactly like the heat you experience there. I had to remind myself that I’m in no danger of catching Delhi belly if I touch anything in the room without first drenching my hands in sanitiser. It’s not India. But it felt just as hot.
The teacher comes in and wastes no time in getting us to work on our breathing before we move swiftly on to the cobra, the downward dog and trying to balance on one bent leg with one arm in the air and the other behind our back, twisting at the hips and looking to the ceiling. And this was a beginner class! I managed to keep up for the most part, and other times I pretended I really needed a drink as a cover for my stiffness. I think it worked. Throughout the class it never felt like I was doing yoga and focusing on being ‘at one with oneself’. It was a challenge, I could feel it working, I felt like I was getting a workout. Happy days! By the end of it I actually welcomed lying still on the mat while our teacher talked through how relaxed all the areas of our body are: “Your eyes are still, your eyes are soft, your eyes are relaxed, your whole body is relaxed”. And finish with a unison “ommmm”.