A conscientious yoga objector who prefers pounding the streets and hitting the gym to sitting in uncomfortable positions and stretching, KATE MALLORD tries a week of 26 postures in sweltering 40-degree heat.
On reflection, it was probably a bit ambitious to start the working week at 10am with my very first ninety-minute Bikram lesson. I’d been advised to drink a lot of water and eat a small meal two hours beforehand, but that didn’t prepare me for the heat. It was a total shock to the system: like arriving from a European winter and taking your first step in Singapore’s humidity, only a Bikram studio is warmer, wetter and you’re in it for ninety minutes straight. Hence, I spent the entire first half of the class fighting the impulse to make a beeline for the exit and lungfuls of air conditioning.
Considering most of the early moves begin from a standing a position, I sat down a lot – but apparently this is normal for beginners. The second half is conducted on the floor and the savasana or corpse pose is done repeatedly, which means you get to lie flat on your back and tell yourself over and over again that this is good for you.
I got back to my desk and spent the rest of the afternoon thinking up ways to get out of doing this feature. Sadly, my heat-addled brain couldn’t come up with anything better than “I’ve discovered I’m allergic to heat.”
I decided to try the 4pm class in the hope that I could get some work done before my body and mind slipped into a post-Bikram daze. This time I entered the class at the very last minute to limit my exposure to the heat, and told myself to ignore the perpetual beads of sweat running steadily down every inch of my body. It works (ish). I only had to sit down during the last of the standing postures, and could concentrate more on the poses instead of the urge to make a break for a cold shower. I left the room feeling more positive but was quickly hit by a wave of nausea that continued until I nibbled on some bread at home.
Dreading the 6pm session, I only just managed to convince myself to get off the MRT at Raffles City. I used the same trick as the day before, laying my towel down early to reserve a spot and then waiting outside in the coolness until the last minute. It wasn’t until the second corpse pose that I realised I was enjoying myself and not even thinking about the heat. I had experienced my first Bikram high (a classmate told me she’s addicted to the feeling) and bounced out of the place energised enough to cook a super-healthy, yummy dinner.
Suffering the effects of those extra millimetres of stretching, I woke with everything aching. But I spent the day looking forward to the evening class in the hope that the heat would relax all that muscle tension. Sadly, 40 degrees was no longer my friend and I struggled through the class, but afterwards my body did feel a lot better. There was no high this time, just a deep sense of relaxation and the comfort of knowing a good deep sleep lay ahead.
Work got in the way and I didn’t make it to the yoga studio. After a long day in the office, I couldn’t muster the energy, and sheepishly headed straight home to feel-good-food and a movie.
When I woke up at 8am, for the first time in my life I couldn’t wait for yoga and headed straight to Bikram. I pushed myself deeper and further in all the standing poses, but paid for it halfway through the floor session: I hit the wall and got caught in a fierce mental battle, desperately fighting the urge to leave the room. “If I can’t stand the heat I should get out of the Bikram studio.” Finally, reason kicked in and after a quick glance at the clock I realised there were only 10 minutes left. I surprised myself by finishing the last three asanas and ended with a real sense of achievement.
Astonishingly, I like Bikram yoga. I’ve lost a kilo in a week – it’s probably all water weight, but that counts in my book. I’ve recommended it to friends and even bought a package. So if you’ve tried and hated yoga, or never even considered it, it’s worth signing up for an introductory week. Just give it a few tries before you make a judgement.
|Bikram yoga was invented by Choudhury Bikram, an Indian yoga champion who developed the 26 postures, known as asanas, to cure a weightlifting injury. By practising yoga in 40-degree heat, he found he could stretch without causing further injury, and the continuous sweating helped to detox and purify his body. After moving to LA and becoming a yogi to the stars, he copyrighted his version, and now there are over 2,000 studios teaching Bikram yoga across the globe. Bikram Yoga in Raffles City Mall offers a week-long beginner’s introductory pass for $107. For more information, call 6339 6639 or visit www.bikramyoga.com.sg.|