And that concerns me.
My mom is 65ish and looks fabulous.
She has exercised for my entire life. When I was in elementary school, I would wake to find her lying on her side on the floor scissoring her legs in unison with the leg warmer-clad ladies in the Jane Fonda video on the television while she was reading the paper AND drinking a mug of coffee. I’m not sure if Mom was REALLY wearing a powder blue leotard or if that memory manifested from me sitting on the couch and watching Jane jumping jack morning after morning!
That doesn’t sound like exercise to you? Well it was probably just Mom’s warm-up to one of the thousands of tennis singles matches that she played and destroyed her opponent, or a 3-mile jog, or a slalom water ski run, or, well the list goes on and on.
But what she never included in her workouts was yoga, and she says now everything hurts. Not that this has slowed her down; she has just incorporated more ice into her workout regime.
I have also been known to skip out of the “cool down” portion of my favorite group exercise class or push my run to the longest possible mileage leaving no time to stretch before jumping in the shower to get on with my day. But recently, Mom’s regret has fueled me to find a yoga class that I can tolerate.
I timed my growing interest in yoga pretty well. Just as I began to wonder which type of yoga would be best for the most inflexible person on the planet, the discount voucher messages began exploding in my email account. Beginning in January of 2010 I think I bought every exercise voucher that became available in a fifteen-mile radius of my house. And if I missed one, one of my running partners found it and we bought them up! The four of us tried it all.
We had gongs rung in our ears as we looked down on a passing freight train from a loft on the fringe of downtown Dallas and we chanted in unison with people we’ve never met before. We sat behind students that twisted their legs into pretzels and watched in amazement as others leaped from their feet to perfect handstands. I knew I was in trouble when my size 4 running partners went to a first class without me and said it was fun but a little awkward because they were the big girls in the room.
But the trial class that sticks out most in my mind was Bikram yoga. Bikram is a class comprised of 26 poses that are performed in a 105-degree room during a 90-minute period. At the end of our first class the instructor said something like, “and for everyone that is new it is important to get your first 10 classes in as quickly as possible so you can really see the results. We recommend that you come for 10 days in a row.” Ugh… I knew I was in trouble. My 3 friends and I never pass up a challenge. So there I was- for 10 days in a row, at 5:30 am, sweating my axx-off!
I did not like Bikram…. all I could think about for 90 minutes was how hot I was. The truth was, I did not really like any of the yoga that we tried that year and by the end of 2010 I was back to my old ways of racking up a lot of mileage, without stretching too much at all.
But the whisper of mom’s regret would just not go away and when we moved to Miami at the beginning of this year, I decided it might be time to seek out a yoga class again. I had been giving the local Bikram studio the evil eye every time that I drove by. I was mad at it because (1) it was so close to my house and hard to avoid and (2) it had become the favorite yoga for my running girls in Dallas and I just did not understand why.
Without a better idea, I thought I would give the class a second chance. There must be something to this if the girls like it so much. And much to my surprise, it was not that bad. One thing I had not noticed before is that the poses are not that complicated. There isn’t even a downward dog! I heard my instructor telling a new student- “our poses are designed so that anyone can get into them.”
I’m afraid if I utter the words if there might be some truth to a jinx, but risking my flexibility I will tell you, I think I like Bikram.
Bikram himself would probably tell you that something in my life has happened to help me put my mind over matter, to get through the heat. I am not sure why I am able to focus on something other than the temperature but I do know that this mind over matter skill is improving with each class I take, and that can help me in other areas of my life: running, parenting or even keeping house (which is not my favorite thing to do).
Since I started attending Bikram twice weekly, in early April, I have seen quite a few benefits:
1. I workout soreness from other exercise- if I walk into class with a tight hamstring from a long run, I don’t feel it at all when the class is over.
2. My wrists don’t hurt anymore when I attempt push-ups or a plank hold. I was starting to believe that arthritis was setting in but I do not feel this pain at all any more.
3. I am sleeping better than normal.
4. But most importantly, my fingers are getting closer to my toes. The heat has allowed my muscles to stretch further during class and with each class I seem to bend a little bit more and that feels good.
Bikram said you are “never too bad, never too old, never too sick, never to late, to start from scratch and begin again.” Mom, I think this guy might know what he is talking about! I’ve got a mat and towel ready in the spot next to me waiting for your next visit at the end of this month! Maybe we can work out these kinks together.
I attend Bikram yoga at the studio in Coconut Grove, Florida. Here is their website if you would like to check it out.