Sunday, October 28, 2012

No More Bikram Beaches

Two months!

Where does the time go? I won't even try to make excuses as to why I haven't been writing and will jump directly into WHY I am writing. After moving to "the beach" neighbourhood, not the beaches for those not in the know, and a much overdue, if slightly too long at 6 months, break from yoga, I decided to step back on to the mat and support a local business.

Having previously walked by the Bikram Toronto yoga studio on numerous occasions I thought I'd give it a go. IronMan had told me, or should I say warned me, that the instructors were uniformly regimented in their teaching style. There are 26 postures. They are repeated twice. No variations. No modifications. And NO water sipping unless authorized by the instructor. All the classes are 90 minutes. No one hour or one hour fifteen on offer.

It's $25 unlimited for the first week so I thought even if I only went twice I would be ahead of the game as their drop in classes are $20. I went twice. But for no other reason than to get my moneys worth and see if the instructors really were ALL the same. Granted, I can only compare two, but where there's smoke.....

Right from the opening pranayama breath exercise I knew I was in trouble. Knuckles pressed tightly under my chin, I lifted my elbows on the inhale and on the exhale, as instructed, dropped my head back as I pressed my elbows together. After 3 of these I felt I must be doing something wrong as I had a bad pain in my neck. "You should really feel this. Your neck should hurt. It feels good." Does it? Bit like saying getting kicked in the junk feels good isn't it? I am pretty sure no exercise that involves deliberate pain to your neck being a good thing.

Alas, the other 87 minutes were not much better.

In numerous postures, "lock your knee" was the instruction that made me nervous and subsequently gave me gas. Regardless of the form of exercise, I have always been told locking the knee is bad for you. And for the knee! Straight leg? Sure. On the verge of locking? Okay. But deliberating hyperextending your knee? Ummm, I am going to go with no.

According to a Google search of "is locking your knees bad", Bikram Vancouver used to have an article on this very thing. But it's no longer available. I wonder why? But everything else I read, says not a good idea.

Posture 9 on the menu, I mean in the series is the bikram version of triangle. As "bounce bounce bounce and settle...." rang out across the room. I shot a glance in the mirror to see if the yogi had changed into a 20 minute workout outfit. 'tis the Halloween season so I expected to see leg warmers, jerry curl and a headband. Disappointingly, no. I don't remember bouncing on your knee being a good thing since 1982? 83?

When we got to the Fixed Firm Pose, posture 20, and I modified to support my knees, I got a LOUD lecture on how what I was doing was bad for my knees and could lead to injury. Funny, every other class I've been to, oh wait, and learned during my instructors course said if you can get your backside on the ground, either support with a block OR sit on your heals in lieu of said block. For fear of being called out again, I just sat the second set out.

Now I'm not saying I know everything, despite what others might say that I say, but in this case me thinks I am. I am not giving up hope yet however. There is a downward dog studio a little further east that I shall take my healthy neck, knees and injured pride too.

Oh, and if that weren't enough reason, check out the picture I found on-line.


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