What’s a Yogini?

**I’m an artist. I love the human form. We are all beautiful. But I’m changing in the bathroom stall.**

It all started with a friend’s Facebook status:Bikram Tips

“There’s a hot yoga Groupon up today! Who wants to get hot and bendy with me?”

It was after midnight. The Man was out of town. I was feeling unmotivated and stagnant. But something was kicking me. Maybe it was tacos. Maybe it was just the pain in my neck.

I’d been suffering from whiplash symptoms for two years and I’d had enough. The Interwebs told me Bikram was good for the spine. So despite my irrational dislike and low opinion of yoga, I bought the Groupon.

I paid for 20 Bikram Yoga classes. 20! That amounts to 30 hours of sweating in a 105 degree room with strangers questioning my balance, wardrobe choices and what I ate for dinner the night before.

It took a month or so to get up the courage to try it. I researched the yoga. I read the “scare you off” stories and also the “changed my life” stories.

I read the Bikram Etiquette page and the studio FAQ list.

I bought a yoga mat and an absorbent (non-slip) towel that fit it perfectly. I chose brown so maybe I’d blend into the background. (news flash: Bikram studios leave all the lights on. 

I scoured the web for some yoga britches to cover what I wanted covered and help me avoid bathing suit season-type preparations. (I found stretchy capri pants)

I had a bra to hold me together and a tunic top to conceal my kangaroo belly.

I ate 2 hours ahead of time and hydrated accordingly.

And I arrived early, just like they asked me to.

I made it through. I sweated profusely and felt like I was running a marathon. I tried valiantly to do everything the instructor was telling me to do. I felt defeated and empowered at the same time. My head throbbed with nearly every pose and I couldn’t turn my head enough to place my ear on the mat when I was laying on my belly.

But I made it through. I didn’t run out in tears and I don’t think I sounded like a freight train to anyone but myself. Let’s hope.

The teacher was kind and encouraging. It was obvious these people wanted me to succeed. They seemed to believe that this yoga stuff works. Fellow class mates congratulated me on completing the class and encouraged me to come back the next day.

But none of this compared me to what happened in the locker room.

After 70 Bikram Yoga classes (plus a happy neck and smaller kangaroo pouch), I still don’t have the courage to change my clothes outside of that safe bathroom stall.

Perhaps that’s my goal?

 Bikram Tips From a Newbie

  • Hydrate. Seriously. Drink more than 20 ounces before class and the same after. You need it. You might also like coconut water. That stuff isn’t silly. It works. (but just use the plain stuff in class)
  • Eat up, but nothing for 2 hours before class. You’d be better off going hungry than with a full tummy.
  • Only take your mat, a big towel to cover it, and a bottle of water into class. You’ll just be asked to remove anything else, so keep your valuables in your car if you’re that suspicious of your fellow man.
  • Wiping sweat is pointless, so don’t bring an extra towel for that. Enjoy the sweat. It’s trying to cool you off.
  • Rest if you’re heaving, dizzy, weak, or about to run for the door. Just sit down. Seriously. Taking a break is okay. I see the “front row” people doing it all the time.
  • About the “Front Row”: If you’re new don’t put your mat up there. Leave it for the folks that know what they are doing, and sneak looks at them if you’re feeling clueless.
  • Don’t drink water until the instructor says you can! They won’t let you die of thirst. I promise. You’re not in the Sahara, and it’s only been 25 minutes. Once you’ve been given the OK, you can drink when you like (but never when other folks are in a yoga posture – you’d be distracting).
  • Don’t be distracting. Come to class clean (including your feet, Smelly Foot Guy. That’s right. I’m talking to you.) and without smelly body tonics that give other people headaches. Don’t gasp and grunt. Everyone is in the same room. Suck it up. Don’t “steal their peace“.
  • When it comes to your wardrobe, less is more. I still wear a tunic tank top, but I did move up to stretchy shorts (but not quite Bikram booty shorts). You want somewhere for the sweat to go. Don’t wear a cotton t-shirt unless you usually wear one in the swimming pool.
  • Smile. Everyone was there for the first time once. You’re not the first out of shape, out of breath, wobbly bodied pansy they’ve had in there. And you won’t be the last. That’s why you are there. The hard part is showing up. (or maybe averting your eyes in the locker room)



CONFESSION: I have no idea what namaste means so I don’t respond when the teacher says it after class.