Bikram Yoga Reno
I’ve been trying to get back to my regular meditation. It seems there is nothing that makes the entire day go a little more mellow than a half-hour of concentrating on what the breath feels like tickling the little hairs in my nose. But, I’ll be honest with you, it’s not easy. Time is so damned short, and it seems so hard to start the boulder rolling down the hill. In the past, I’ve had good luck by increasing my participation in yoga, the strenuous stretching and hour or so of body awareness leading to savasana, the meditation (and position). I’ll also admit that I’m kind of a lightweight where yoga is concerned, never practicing enough to get beyond a beginning level class. With hopes of reaching two objectives—expose readers to a lesser known type of yoga and visit that good place in my head—I caught a lift to Bikram Yoga Reno.
Now, while yoga is a soulful practice, Bikram Yoga is pure business. One hour-and-a-half session costs $18. Add to that a $1 yoga mat rental, a $1 yoga towel rental, and $2 for a bottle of water—or if you’re halfway thoughtful, you’ll bring your own. They’ve got a lot of cheaper packages for people who choose to make this a regular deal. I met instructor Melissa Martinez right off the bat. She showed me around the studio, including the room where the 6:30 p.m. class would practice. It was warm in there.
See, the idea of Bikram yoga is to do all the stretching in a room heated to around 105 degrees with about 40 percent humidity. This allows the body to be pushed a little harder, joints, muscles and ligaments to be stretched a bit more. I wouldn’t be surprised if it helps prevent injury. The class will include 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
“Your goal for the first class should be to stay in the class for the entire hour and a half,” said Martinez. “If you feel a little nauseous or dizzy, just sit or lie down. Pace yourself.” Martinez acted as a coach in the class, adjusting positions and offering encouragement throughout the practice.
From my perspective as a newbie, the heat is both the strength and the weakness of Bikram yoga. It’s a fairly fast-paced environment, moving from pose to resting pose, with a few water breaks. It’s a weakness, especially for my purpose of emptying my mind, because I was so distracted by what was going on with my body—elevated temperature, shortness of breath, sweat pouring off my body, making it more difficult to balance and hold poses that I’ve had little trouble with before.
On the other hand, it’s a strength because I could easily see how with a little familiarity, the practice could become one long physical meditation. I’m in pretty good shape, so I didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the class, although my poses were sloppy and not as deep as I would have liked. However, I could see that regular practitioners were moving through the predictable postures with ease, not distracted by the environment or smells of sweaty bodies at all. This was definitely the most physically fit group of yoga practitioners that I can recall seeing. In general, people who practice yoga tend to be a little more body conscious and in better shape than the general populace, but I’d say the Bikram practitioners were a notch above that. I don’t know—maybe it’s because people also tended to wear less clothing than you’d typically see in a yoga studio; the men shirtless, and nobody was wearing sweats.
I can say that I slept very well the night following, which is a sign of a calmer mind and a strenuous physical workout. I do know the class made me curious enough to want to return, but I’ll be coming back for the workout, as opposed to the meditation.