Lean back, fall back, go back…I don’t think I’ll ever go back!
By Suzy Powell
Bikram. You either love it or hate it. 90 minutes, 26 postures, 105 degrees.
I tried Bikram yoga recently. I love the heat. The postures are exactly the same for each class, so no surprises. I could do this!
When I arrived the instructor was briefing a group of 10-12 first timers. She told them that their main goal was to stay in the room for the entire practice. No problem.
I entered the studio—a steamy, mirrored room. It was very quiet and very hot. I rolled out my mat and waited for class to begin. The scantily clad instructor walked in wearing a headset. I thought, are we practicing yoga or shooting a video?
She then began calling out the postures. Alignment was emphasized greatly. She began shouting (yes, shouting) cues. “Suck in your stomach!” “Open your eyes!” “Lock your knee!” (What??) “Pull your chin back!!” She yelled out verbal commands for every single pose. She never stopped talking. Not for one minute.
At one point I became extremely dizzy. I went down into child’s pose for a few moments. I got up again and attempted to resume the practice. The instructor began yelling “If your knee is not locked, you are not in the pose!” My vision blurred, my ears were ringing. I went down to child’s pose again for what felt like a long time. The teacher never checked on me. For all she knew I could have been unconscious.
I got back up again and thought about running out of the room. I know she had said I had to stay in the room for the entire practice, but seriously – was she going to tackle me when I tried to leave? I weighed the odds, and decided that she just might. Not worth the risk.
So instead, for the remainder of the class, I concentrated on my breath and attempted the postures. I heard things that seemed vaguely disturbing and out of place in a yoga class. “Struggle!” “Struggle more!!” “You should feel pain in your hip!” “Pain is good!” (Really?) I looked in the mirror at the faces around me. Everyone seemed exhausted and unhappy. One gentleman behind me seemed completely miserable—at least according to his facial expressions.
I have never been so happy to hear the word “savasana” in my entire life.
Lean back, fall back, go back… I don’t think I’ll ever go back!
Suzy Powell is yoga teacher trainee working toward her 200-hour certification at Flow Yoga in Leesburg, Virginia. Once certified, she would like to teach yoga to at-risk teens through organizations such as YogaActivist. She currently lives in a small town outside of Washington, DC with her husband and son.