Bizzaro Bikram

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Today, I did something bad. Something very, very bad. (Sort of…don’t get too worried. It was only yoga.)

I went to a bootleg Bikram class.

There aren’t a lot of certified Bikram teachers here in South Africa. There’s only one official Bikram class each day. Except for Fridays. No Bikram here on Fridays. I taught the official class yesterday, so I didn’t get to practice.

This morning, I needed a yoga fix, big time. So I broke down and went to an uncertified studio around the corner.

It was a completely different world. Bizarro Bikram world.

At the front desk, I am told that class is only an hour long. “Really? Is it Bikram?” Yes, they reassure me, it is…

Ok…open mind…deep breath in…deep breath out…I’ve heard that Bikram’s brother, who lives in Japan, teaches 60-minute classes there. I have also heard that in the olden days there was a shorter, official beginning Bikram series.

Maybe it will be good. Maybe.

Into the hot room I go.

It’s hot. GOOD!

There are mirrors on the front wall. GOOD!

Why is it so dark?…open mind….I set up in the corner.

Wait….Why is everyone laying with their feet facing the front mirror…I can’t DO that….deep breath….open mind….”When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Come to standing. Check. Close my eyes? Really? Hands at heart center? Really….Please, God, let Pranayama be normal!

Deep relief. Normal Pranayama. Except lots of people forgot to put their feet together neatly. Only one set?! …ok…

Half moon‘s a little weird. No dialogue. Backbending‘s different, but not too bad. Padahastasana. Check.

Awkward pose. ONLY ONE SET! YEAH! Maybe I LIKE this bootleg stuff, after all. I’m a lazy yogi…(Sorry, Boss.)

Now, is where things really start to get weird.

No holding the foot in Standing-Head-To-Knee pose. No kicking out in Standing-Head-To-Knee pose. There’s no head-to-knee in Standing-Head-To-Knee pose!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!  I get my first individual correction, “Megan, kindly BEND YOUR KNEE!” In Bizarro Bikram World, one is not permitted to lock the knee. Shocked and amused, I comply.

But I hold my breath and wait for a very angry Indian guru in a small black speedo to come busting through the wall. This is Bikram blasphemy.

The world does not end. We continue.

The postures vaguely resemble Bikram’s series. As we progress, though, I notice that something feels slightly off in each pose. We refrain from charging our bodies forward in Standing-Bow-Pulling pose. Some of us bend our knees and flex our feet in Balancing Stick. (I get another correction, as I have once again locked my knees.)

The Separate Leg series is not held in stillness. Rather, we flow through the postures.

We are told not to try too hard…to do only what is easily accessible or available to each of us today. I kind of want the teacher to yell and tell me to kill myself.

Now she’s yelling at me. GOOD. I kind of do like her, after all. But why are we doing ab work? What happened to Wind Removing posture? Crunches are HARD, which I like. (I forgot.) But crunches aren’t part of the series.

In Fixed Firm, out come the props. Lots of yogis are sitting on blocks. Again, I wait for Bikram to appear out of the ether and strike us all down, shouting “no dumbbells, no barbells, no blocks!”

We finish up. I have sweated, so I’m relatively satisfied.

But I miss my inside-out, bones-to-skin, fingertips-to-toes certified 26-and-2. I want to go home, to Bikram’s beginning yoga class. And I will. Later today.

Maybe I’ll see you there…

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