Hot Yoga, or, paying someone to cook you near to death and thanking them for it

I’ve long hated the idea of hot yoga (aka: Bikram). I’ve historically done rather poorly in the heat, and the idea of being in close proximity to people sweating in such volumes gave me the heebie jeebies.

I finally realized, though, that hot yoga could help with triathlons by teaching my body how to push itself in extreme temperatures. Sold!

I read some yelp reviews on local places, and found The Sweatbox. It had good reviews, and the honesty in the name appealed to me. I already had a big yoga mat from last fall, and I knew that I also needed a big towel to sweat all over, plus a big bottle of water.

I chose a 6am Tuesday class, because that’s really the only window I had in my already packed training schedule, and showed up super early so I could fill out paper work. Int he lobby, the instructor (and, it turned out, co-owner) was very friendly in warning me I would probably feel nauseous and that I should just lay down whenever it got to be too much, but to try not to leave the room. I nodded and smiled and thanked her or something pleasant, and then went in to pick my spot.

WHAM! The heat hits you like a two ton truck. At 105° and 40% humidity, it’s safe to say this was a pretty extreme environment for me. I went in, laid my mat and towel down, then went back out to the lobby to kill time before class started. It just didn’t seem like a good idea to subject myself to that heat any more than necessary.

As class finally got under way, I was very happy to see that there weren’t very many people, and there was plenty of room between mats. I made it through about half of the standing poses before I finally felt I had to lay down. That helped a little, but I was still stuck in that terrible heat, so ‘cooling off’ was not really an option. But, laying still for a while did help, and I was able to re-join for the first half of the floor poses. Then it was back to laying down again.

As I was leaving, the instructor asked me how I felt. I replied, “thorough,” which isn’t an adjective, but was nonetheless accurate.

For the rest of the day I had a weird pre-headache feeling, and I was generally irritable and grumpy. The next day I felt fantastic. Call it detox or simple dehydration, but whatever it was, I didn’t like it.

The next week, I went back, this time with a big bottle of Nuun water that I’d half-frozen the night before. I did a lot better in the second class, only needing to lay down for a couple of the standing poses, but I still had the angry headache thing happen for the rest of the day.

The night before my third class I downed a quart of Gatorade, which I’d started doing before my triathlons, and again froze some Nuun. Class went pretty well the next day, but even better, I didn’t get the headache or unexplained anger. Success! I’ll try that same recipe again tonight/tomorrow and we’ll see how it turns out.

In addition to helping with the heat acclimatization, the yoga is, of course, also helping my overall flexibility and core strength. I’ve only really noticed this on my runs so far, especially during hill sprints, in which I feel I have a more stable torso to push from.

So, yay Bikram!

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