Bikram yoga

The Bikram Chronicles: Fixed Firm Pose

“Don’t sit like that! You’ll hurt your knees.”

This was the refrain my brothers and I heard from my mother every Saturday after we had each grabbed a bowl of whatever off-brand cereal was in the house, wrapped ourselves in our comforters, and parked our little butts in front of the TV to watch cartoons. All three of us would sit with our knees splayed out, our feet pointing back as if we were drawing little M’s on the living room floor.

“But it’s comfortable,” we’d whine as she’d force us to sit in a different position. We’d wait until she was out of sight and resume sitting the way we were before.

In Bikram there is a posture called Fixed Firm Pose. You put your knees together, place your hips between your ankles, and stretch back to lie on the floor. If you can’t stretch back, you are advised to push your knees slightly apart. I cannot do this pose. Correction: I cannot do this pose yet. It KILLS my knees. They ache like crazy when I try to point them forward so I always end up pushing them out slightly to the side just as I did in front of Saturday cartoons. This always makes Bikram instructors frown at me since the rest of the class seems to have zero problem getting into the pose. If they do have an issue, it tends to be with the part where they lie on their backs.

Yesterday the class was smaller, and the instructor was able to show me the proper way to do the pose; it was still painful and difficult, but, amazingly, markedly less so. The entire time I could just see my mom shaking her head at me in a little thought bubble above my head. (I will not be telling her about this) Besides, my knees are kind of messed up from running and soccer too. Plus my hips are kind of big (and so is my butt for that matter). It must be the running and the big hips, right? RIGHT?

Moving on! I’ve begun compiling a list of Bikram tips for beginners that I will be doling out slowly.

Today’s Bikram tips:

1. Don’t wear a brand new hot pink sports bra. Your towel will also be hot pink by the end of class.

2. Listen to your mom.

Bikram vs. Sleep: The Steel Cage Death Match

This morning something incredible happened: I woke up at 5:30am to go to Bikram yoga (you know, the kind where you’re in a room that’s 100+ degrees for 90 minutes).

Here is where it’s important to note that I am borderline homicidal in the mornings. If I do manage to stumble out of my bed prior to 8am, it is only because my cat is knocking things off my dresser and/or I have to pee. And if I have to pee, I will be making the journey to the bathroom pantsless. And just forget about engaging me in any type of conversation.

homicidal mornings

This kid knows what I’m talking about. And so do all my ex boyfriends. (Boyfriend: “Baby, do you want waffles?” Me: “DIE”) Luckily for the rest of humanity, I work in an industry where the start time is 10am.

The last time I got up early to go to yoga was… (scratches head)… over a year ago? And it was because my ex boyfriend bet me I would never get to 7am yoga (vinyasa). And if he lost this bet he would have to read fiction instead of medical textbooks and sports stats (specifically, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies). Needless to say, I don’t like losing bets so I got my ass out of bed and trooped it up Steinway towards Yoga Agora, and he wound up reading Lahiri (ahh I can still taste the sweet victory!).

This time, no one was betting me anything. So what could possibly have prompted me to get out of bed at such an ungodly, unnatural hour? An expiring Groupon. I had paid for 3 months of unlimited Bikram yoga in the middle of a NYC summer and if you’ve ever been to NYC in the summer, you know that walking to the subway is basically the same thing as going to Bikram.

So I waited until Fall and more moderate temperatures arrived, and ok, until the last day of the Groupon’s expiration date! Incentives, my friends, that’s what it takes to get me motivated it seems.

As for today’s Bikram, I have to say it was totally worth it. Bikram gives me a serious endorphin high, more than any other physical activity that I do, so if anything is going to conquer my murderous morning streak, it’s Bikram. The new studio in Astoria  is pretty great: the space is in an old warehouse so the ceilings are high, and thankfully the floors are rubber (maybe cork?) whereas the old one had carpeting in it. Do I need to elaborate on what carpeting smells like after thousands of people sweat on it all day long for years on end? I didn’t think so. As always, the staff is super friendly and attentive. This morning’s class was taught by Yuri, and I’d really love to keep going to her classes. It all depends on whether or not this was a total fluke, or if I’m now magically able to keep the morning rage monster at bay… We shall see.

Namaste!