I have been in search of a good yoga community in San Antonio and judging by the websites, the Bikram studio seems like my best choice. The only drawback of this is that I hate Bikram yoga. This week I signed up to do ten days of unlimited Bikram yoga. As I laid on my mat before the first class I closed my eyes and continually told myself to just be present with no expectations and keep an open mind. As much as I wanted to stay open minded during the class, all I could think about is how much I hated it and that I was never coming back. There are so many people that like it though that my curiosity kept bringing me back. Four classes later my body has adapted to the 105 degree room but I still despise the teaching method, the environment and I think the poses suck.
Let me start with the teaching method and environment. Standing under fluorescent lights in 105 degrees with sweat dripping off everyone and absorbing into the carpet releases a stench specific to Bikram yoga. Now give the teacher a microphone that they can yell their commands into while they tell you to push harder, go past your limits and that the poses SHOULD hurt. During my third class I felt a weakness in my lower back. Instead of going on to the next pose I decided to lay down and do happy baby pose to help release my lower back. The teacher decided to call me out in front of the entire class and tell me that I should either lay down in savasana or get up an do the pose. I was pretty infuriated as I know my body and the instructor does not, but according to these classes you are only allowed to do the 26 poses and no others.
As far as the poses go, I can tell they are chosen for their therapeutic benefits but some of them do not make sense to me. Part of the reason I don’t like it is because I am very flexible and doing the same poses every class doesn’t provide me with the challenge that I enjoy. The other reason is that there are a lot of poses that compress the spine. Now, in our daily lives we are constantly compressing the spine, rounding our shoulders and hunched over with our hips flexed. The majority of the poses seem to reinforce that instead of reversing it. Most people need to extend and decompress so I have difficulties seeing the benefits for the actual muscular development.
I think if you are going to take ninety minutes to invest in your body and mind that you should enjoy the process. If Bikram yoga was the first one you ever tried, please know that it is not the definition of yoga. Take the time to try different varieties of yoga and different teachers to find the best fit. It may seem frustrating when you have tried a lot of varieties and a lot of instructors, but when you find one you like it is amazing, transformational and well worth the wait!