The Bikram Diaries

Searching for bliss through 105° of heat

day 25: front row, center May 6, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 11:35 pm

After an 8-day hiatus to spare fellow yogis from catching my germs, I finally ventured back into the Bikram studio. I was pretty scared to go, thinking I would be weak and in terrible shape after taking over a week off. To add to my fears, I got to the studio a little late and by the time I walked in, the only open spot was on the front row, right smack in the center of class. I thought, well if I faint, at least the teacher will notice right away …

But guess what … I had the best class of my LIFE! How in the world that happened, I don’t know. I was pretty distracted during my last few sessions. My mind was always wandering, constant chatter filled my head. Like seriously, if you could hear my thoughts it would be something like this:

Okay take a wide step for trikasana. Bend the knee low, turn palms … hmm this girl in front of me has a really nice manicure. Really makes such a difference. I haven’t had a manicure in awhile. I should get one. And a pedicure too … hmm I wonder if those Steve Madden sandals are already on sale? Oh shoot, look up, spine twist … hold it … what day is it today? A Thursday? Oooh I wonder if I can make it home in time for Gray’s Anatomy. We should really get Tivo when we move. Oh, I’d better remember to call that broker …

Oh my god. My brain just refused to cooperate for so many sessions. But today, I came back from my break and it was utterly quiet. The only thing I thought about was what the instructor was saying. My first breakthrough of the day was the standing head to knee pose. I’ve been able to kick out my leg for awhile now but never felt stable enough to bring my elbows down to my calves … but today I did it! And did it so easily that I wondered in amazement, why had I never tried to do that before? I thought it would all be downhill from there but it wasn’t! I held my standing bow, the balancing stick pose was a breeze, and I held my balance in toe stand for both sides! My jaw would’ve dropped if I was allowed to breathe through my mouth.

I just think it’s funny how my body and mind seemed to conspire to get me back into the swing of things. I was dreading class today because I thought it would be horrible, and lo and behold I have the best class ever! Bikram just keeps throwing me for a loop … and because of that, it keeps me coming back.


day 23 & 24: someone’s been a bad yogi May 1, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 4:12 pm

white-wine-pour-225Guilty as charged.

I’ve been a very, very bad yogi. So many days passed between day 23 and 24 that I was quite afraid to go to class. It doesn’t help that I was not on my best behavior during said break. There were birthdays, friends visiting from out of town, and the first 80° weekend of the year so I put Bikram on the backburner and went back to my old ways of boozing, scarfing down fatty food at all hours of the night, and being plain old lazy, lying in the sun in Central Park all Saturday and Sunday afternoon rather than getting some exercise.

On Monday, feeling all repentant, I shoved myself into Bikram and allowed my butt to thoroughly get kicked. But then I got home and instead of resting, I stayed up til 3AM reading New Moon (yes, I have a vampire infatuation like a silly 14-year-old). I woke up on Tuesday with a terribly sore throat and body pains. Shit. I was sick.

The moment I felt my body all weak and aching, I felt thoroughly annoyed with myself. I don’t know if it was just my imagination, but since starting Bikram I’d been feeling healthy as a horse. When I was doing it religiously, I could sit by a draft in the office, get caught in hot/cold tempts constantly, and be around ill people without catching anything. I felt so healthy, so invincible. But I “fell off the wagon” so to speak, and next thing I knew, I was ill, ill, ill. Arrrrrgh.

I’ve been resting for the past few days (I don’t want to push my immune system, what with everyone in NY scared sh*tless over the swine flu—myself included) but am hoping I can make it to Bikram tomorrow and just get healthy again. Does anyone know if it’s okay to go to Bikram when just recovering from being sick, or is that pushing it? Would love to hear from the experienced yogis out there 🙂


day 20: move as one April 15, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 11:53 pm

Maybe it’s cos I’m a suffering student and not a teacher of Bikram, but I always thought, “Yeah right” when teachers say things like, “Thank you, this was an amazing class” at the end of the 90-minute torturefest. But today I actually felt what they mean by “an amazing class.” The class today had very good energy. Everyone seemed extremely focused and determined to do their best. Our teacher seemed extra attentive and I picked up so many instructions that I’d never heard before (though they could have been said over and over again, it doesn’t mean that I actually picked it up!).  I felt a push to kick harder, fall way back, and bend more when I sensed the yogis around me pushing themselves to their limits. I was once the yogi who could barely get through 4 poses, and it never occurred to me that what I was feeling could actually affect those around me. When I see a yogi who’s overcome with exhaustion and is sitting still, waiting for it to pass, I’m not badly affected. But those who express their suffering out loud or worse, step out of the class, have a stronger effect on me. Commiserating can be the end of your practice. It’s important for the entire group’s practice to give out good energy, rather than suck it out.

Good lord, I can’t believe I wrote all that above. Bikram is turning me into a crunchy granola hippie, if not in action, then definitely in mind!granola


day 19: the more the merrier! April 13, 2009

I always wonder how my friend Kathryn and I are friends. We’re soooo different. She’s super athletic and does things I can’t even imagine doing, like ice-climbing and football. Me, I can’t be bribed into playing a contact sport. I hate getting roughed up and up until recently, was not really into the idea of sweating. But we all know that’s changed.

Well today, Kathryn decided to add one item on to the three things we have in common (we like clothes, we like to eat and we love to get our drink on) by joining me in Monday Bikram class. I always get a little scared when some of my friends come to class because I think they’ll blame me if they hate it (which is highly possible since I tried it and hated it three times before I finally liked it). Well thank goodness, she liked it! Kathryn handled the class better than any first timer I’ve seen. She did all the poses and never stopped to rest.

I was exceptionally focused today and I’m not really sure why! I stayed in the back row so I could be beside Kathryn, and the class was so packed I could only see the top of my head. But maybe that’s why it was easier to focus. I couldn’t be distracted by stuff like the little flab rolls I see when I do the half moon pose, or how much further the people around me seem to be able to bend forward on their standing head to knee pose. I just felt my own body and pushed it as far as it would go, not trying to compete with the yogis around me and not berating myself for having that second piece of chocolate (and thus not helping the flab roll reduction cause). For the first time, I found myself okay with the fact that the class was packed wall-to-wall. The more the merrier!


day 18: to the beat of the drum April 10, 2009

Filed under: my bikram diary — Celine @ 12:32 am
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Image via Diafragma66’s photostream

Today’s class was unlike any other Bikram class I’ve ever taken. To celebrate Bikram Yoga Union Square owner Otto Cedeño’s class, the studio held its annual drum class. It’s basically Bikram Yoga done to the beat of Afro-Cuban drums. It was a unique experience, to say the least. First of all, there’s no script during the class. The teacher, Otto, only says “begin” or “change” and he does the poses with the class. So definitely not a class for beginners because you will get no instruction whatsoever.

During the breathing exercise and the first few postures, I felt a little out of sync with the drums. But when we got to the balancing series, I began to enjoy it. Aside from the drums, they also used the shekere, a percussion instrument made out of a hollowed gourd and strung with beads, during the series. Its strong, rushing rhythm propelled me through the postures and gave me a bit more energy, I felt, to hold my asanas. For the rest of the class, however, I still missed the dialogue. Being quite the newbie, I still need those reminders, I still get motivation from the script. I guess the drum class is best done by more experience Bikram practicioners.

That said, it’s always great to experience something new and different. I would never trade traditional yoga for the drum class variety, but I would definitely take the class again next year!


day 17: random acts of kindness April 8, 2009

I remember talking to my sweetie once about how people in Bikram class seem to be SO NICE. The locker rooms can get horribly crowded but everyone seems to be polite and patient amidst the chaos.

Today I wasn’t one of those terribly nice and patient people. I’m PMS-ing so I’m just not the nicest person to be around, period (no pun intended). My crankiness extended into class because I had skipped four days and felt like I’d regained flab and lost flexibility. I was cranky up until my head hit the towel for final savasana. I trudged out of the room and lined up to take a shower with a cloud of gloom over my head.

Then suddenly the girl in front of me turns and asks, “Do you need a bag?” I was so surprised by the question that it took me a few seconds to answer yes. When she went to grab a plastic bag for her wet clothes, she took an extra one and handed it to me. Such a simple gesture but it lifted my mood considerably. Why hasn’t it ever occurred to me to do that? Definitely have to start.

In other acts of kindness news, I paid up for the special one-year offer at Bikram Yoga Union Square which cuts down the price of unlimited yoga with towels and free mat storage to less than $80 a month (normally approximately $133). My entire year of Bikram is courtesy of my sweetheart/Sugar Daddy. So sweet! In related Sugar Daddy news, Monkey was also gifted with one year of Bikram by her darling Buddha. Gotta love these guys! Hey, I think it’s a win-win situation. They cough up the moolah and they get a girlfriend who’s hot, perpetually happy from the endorphins, and grateful all year long. If I had the money (and um, if I were a guy?) I’d pony up the cash too!


happy bikram birthday & day 16 April 3, 2009

blowing-candlesImage from Conde Nast Archive/CORBIS via Foxtongue’s photostream

Otto Cedeno, owner of Bikram Yoga Union Square, is celebrating his birthday this month with a bang—literally. On April 9 at 8PM, BYUS is having Otto’s annual Birthday Drum Class, where yogis and yoginis get to do Bikram to the beat of Afro-Cuban drums. Food and wine will be served after class.

Quite possibly more fun than the idea of a birthday drum class are the great discounted rates they are providing as part of Otto’s birthday celebration. If you have the cash (I mean this literally because the deal is only if you’re paying with cash and not plastic), you can get an entire year of unlimited yoga with towels and mat storage included for just $939. That is an AMAZING discount because it means you’re just paying about $79 per month! I don’t see any studios beating that sick deal. If you’re paying with a credit card, you can get the same deal for $1,257, which is not as impressive at $104.75/month but still great nevertheless. If you’re not liquid nor willing to go into debt, there’s an annual debit monthly special too for $140/month that includes free towels and mat storage. Still $26.50 in savings per month.

My sweetheart, who can hereafter be dubbed Sugar Daddy (he said it, not me!), offered to help fund my yoga habit as my birthday gift! Sweet. I love birthdays.

On my Day 16 of Bikram: I landed a front row, center spot today where hot air was blowing at me from the heater above for most of the class. I handled it quite well, I thought. I had a pretty strong class and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the heat. It’s a sign, I guess, that I have to start weaning myself away from the spots by the window. Time to grow up yogini!