Saturday, March 9, 2013

My HATE-love-HATE Relationship with Bikram Yoga

Woman in Standing Bow Pose

AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by RON SOMBILON MEDIA, ART and PHOTOGRAPHY

For those of you who have never been to a Bikram yoga class, Bikram is a style of yoga where the room is heated to 105 degrees. Every class does the same 26 poses, each pose 2 times. Classes are packed fairly full, meaning there is only a few feet between you and your neighbor, all the while the instructor is talking you through the series (the instructor never shows the series, she only talks).
I was once told, in one of my many psychology classes, that there are three things that universally create aggression in human beings.
1. Heat
2. Crowds
3. Noise
For me all three things seem to culminate in Bikram yoga, one of the most inappropriate place to feel aggressive that I have possibly ever known. I will enumerate all the reasons why I have a HATE-love-HATE relationship with Bikram yoga.
1. In almost every pose the instructor tells you to “create a pain sensation”. Notice, they do not say “pain”, but a “pain sensation”. PAIN IS A SENSATION. You feel pain, therefore you sense pain, so knock off the bullsh** and call it what it is. PAIN. In this pose there will be pain. In the next pose there will be pain, and the pose after than and the one after that... all the way down the line until you are lying on the floor drenched in your own sweat, there will be pain.
2. I hate how Bikram yoga treats every body as if they were all the same. Each pose is supposed to be done a very specific way, with little to no variation. For example, a lot of the standing poses require you to put your feet and heels together. For most people this is rather easy. Not so for me. For me to put my feet and heels together, one of my knees has to overlap the other. This hurts. It feels uncomfortable. The instructor says it creates good alignment and a stable base. Bullshit! If I wanted a stable base my feet would be parted. Anyone who has ever taken martial arts knows this. (TANGENTIAL THOUGHT ALERT: A parallel in psychology would be Freud and his followers. They tried to treat everybody using their own personal psychology (they believed that everyone had the same psychology as they did). Freud was sexually attracted to his mother, thus we got the Oedipus Complex. Jung was sick most of his childhood and felt inferior, thus we got Inferiority Complex. You know what? No one uses Freudian psychology anymore, because it's all bullshit. It didn't apply to the masses, it barely applied to a few, so it was thrown out. Almost anything that treats each individual as EXACTLY the same is fucking crazy.)
3. You're supposed to do this every day for 30 days. Enough said.
4. At the end of the class, when I'm finally out of the hot sweat drenched room, I feel better. My knees no longer hurt from all the squats I do in Crossfit. My shoulders no longer hurt from the presses and the snatches. My body feels healthy again. My skin looks better. And this is the part that I hate the most. The fact that I love the way I feel after a Bikram yoga class. Despite the pain, despite the heat, I want to go back again tomorrow.

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