Then I met more and more people - some desis included - who raved on and on about Bikram yoga. And how the muscle tone one got there could never be got via lifting weights. Its a rage in Seattle to the point where my gym is kick-starting classes on this. So I decided to give it a try. Joined the Bikram hot yoga class. I have to say one thing though. The word 'hot' in the phrase "Bikram Hot Yoga" is really really r.e.a.l.l.y. hot. I think the temperature in there must be 120 degrees or more. I am a Madras guy and I think this is hotter than travelling at 1PM in the afternoon inside a Matador wan with all doors closed and no A/C on. It is unbelievably hot. I am in the middle of the Sun hot. Scotty beamed me into planet Mercury hot.
They do 26 aasanas in a space of 90 minutes. In my first class I felt like some alien inside me would tear out of my body and explode. And there are people in there who are spectacularly well-built and who do the aasanas with the precision of a Jedi master. I was told long ago that these Yogic poses were what the ancient Rishis used while performing Tapas. And the poses these jedi-type people seemed pretty much like how the rishis stood in the Amar Chitra Katha cartoons. Of course this was way beyond my range. Just standing in the hot room for 90 minutes was too much for me. Maybe I could have breezed through it with a bag of potato chips and some TV time. But standing and doing all these poses felt like murder.
I do have to say the people who are good at this seem to be built like greek gods. I don't think I will ever get to a point where I will bend my right leg upwards, my back downwards, stand on my left leg and touch my right hand to the right foot as the right foot touches the ceiling and all that crap. But here I am - 30 classes later. Still none the better in terms of flexibility. But I can sit 90 minutes inside the class and not feel like reaching for the remote. One 90 minute session burns 1000+ calories. And you do find out more about yourself in this class. About what you can do and what you cannot. Where your personal edge is and how you can move that edge a little bit farther etc. I am actually surprised because I was cynical enough to think this was worthless and it was not. I actually learnt something about myself in this class. I didn't think I'd last more than 2-3 classes but there is a mental and physical discipline about this class that makes you want to come back.
Of course there is no lack of motivation. Because 'hot' in Bikram Hot Yoga has another meaning as well. It is "girls come there in bikini" hot. It is "the class is 70% hot girls" hot. It is "all the strange poses affect my blood circulation" hot.