I first started practicing yoga about a year-and-a-half ago. Nursing a foot injury, I was trying to find a way to keep up my fitness routine when high-impact workouts were off-limits, and yoga ended up being exactly what I needed. It was just about the only workout I could do without foot pain, and although I was skeptical, I learned it really is a full-body workout.
Bikram yoga had been on my radar for a while because I’ve met some dedicated followers of the practice who swear by it for both the physical and mental challenges it presents. Even before I went to Boiler House Bikram Yoga in Providence for my first class, I knew it would be an intense experience: Bikram yoga is practiced in rooms set to 105 degrees, and as someone who sweats during even a light workout in a chilly room, I knew I would truly be feeling theheat of the workout.
My instructor was Boiler House’s owner Derek Stout, who opened the studio in September. He has been practicing Bikram yoga since he was 16 years old and teaching since 2006. There were about 10 people taking the class, a few beginners like myself and a few people who were obviously regular practitioners based on the way they flowed effortlessly from posture to posture. “We do not have different levels of classes,” Derek says. “A Bikram yoga class is unique in that there can be two people standing next to one another from completely different backgrounds and levels of ability who are equally challenged by the practice.” (I was, indeed, challenged, and I had the buckets of sweat to prove it.)
Each Bikram yoga class consists of the same 26 poses, performed in thesame order, every time. But while the postures and breathing exercises are the same each day, each class is still different. “The mind and body are constantly changing,” Derek says. “By keeping the postures and technique the same, the body and mind mold around the healing nature of the practice.”
Derek’s class was cleansing, humbling and intense. And even though I know there is room for vast improvement on my part, I really enjoyed it. The series of poses helped me focus only on the tasks at hand, not the thoughts and to-do lists that typically run through my head. Using my mind, body and breath, I released tension, energized my body and got a darn good workout. Not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.