Today during Bikram I was having a hard time keeping my mind in the present. It was a tough class; the studio just added a second humidifier, and it was the last class of the day, so it was just a tad over 105 degrees the entire time. Plus, even though I normally love this teacher, today his strictness was really wearing on me. I got severely out of breath by Eagle, and from there it was pretty much downhill. I did my best to do most of the poses (except for Triangle, which I skipped out of not wanting to further aggravate my groin and glute, and also because I just wasn’t feeling up to it), and by the time I got to the last three poses, I was just completely worn out. Kind of a bust, as far as class goes, but I keep telling myself that we need the ‘bad’ classes to be able to feel extra good about the ‘good’ classes. Besides, I didn’t faint, injure myself, or – horror of horrors – leave the room, so I’m pretty much golden, right?
Anyway, while I was trying to live through class, my mind kept wandering. One of the things I was thinking over was how different each of my old studios has been. Overall, I love this studio the most. It’s brand new, and the owner/teacher did an amazing job at including all of the state-of-the-art bells and whistles, along with the regular Bikram must-haves. The hot room has full length mirrors on two walls, windows to the street on another, and then windows out into the hall on the fourth. The heating system is superb (although I was hating it today), and the humidity ensures that the heat is easier on your skin and you never feel like you’re getting roasted. Or at least you feel like you’re getting basted regularly, anyway! There’s also the required wood-grained antimicrobial carpeting, which smells weird, but whatever.
This is the first studio that I’ve studied in that has fans, though. I like them, but I still feel vaguely guilty when the teacher turns them on, even if it’s just for a second during the transition from standing series to the floor, or sometimes during camel (by which point a breeze feels glorious, I’ll admit it). It’s also the first studio that I’ve gone to that had showers and bathrooms in separate locations. This doesn’t bother me – I’m just happy there are showers – but it’s something that sets it apart. As is the crazy-cool Brita Hydration Station (it’s a water fountain, but it’s seriously spacey).
One thing that my studio is missing, however, is a mat-cleaning station. My first studio had a stainless steel table, very much like something you’d see in a professional kitchen, set up to wash your mat down as soon as you walked out of class. I loved it! I’ll admit – I forget to clean my mat all the time, which is really gross, I know, but I’m forgetful and lazy. It was great to walk out of class and be able to put your mat on a waist-high slab, and have a bottle of cleanser and a sponge ready to go to wipe it down. If I ever were to have my own studio, I’d definitely incorporate a mat-cleaning station.
Another thing that tends to bother me is when people set their mats up in weird places, or take up too much space and inconvenience other people in the hot room. Years ago, before I was introduced to Bikram, I did work study at yoga studio that used two mats for each person. It sounds weird, but it was a cool concept. The owner had figured out how many people could comfortably fit in the room, and where the mats would work best. He had us set out a certain number of mats, in a certain placement. When people would come into class, they’d either use a yoga towel or blanket, or more usually, their own yoga mat, and place it on top of the already placed mat. This meant that everyone was lined up perfectly, without crowding their neighbors, and no one had to think too hard about it. It made the beginning of class even more relaxed. I don’t think I’d go through the trouble of setting out mats, but I have wondered about marking suggestion spots on the floor to help people line their mats up correctly and ensure that everyone has enough space.
One last thing that’s very different about my current studio from my last is that we’re encouraged to drink water. My first studio had ‘party time’ after Eagle, so I was a little freaked out when I got to my second studio and the teacher informed everyone to drink water sparingly during class and try to avoid it if possible. I wondered if this was healthy, or if it was even doable. Over time, though, I realized that what they were saying was true. If I was properly hydrated going in, I never actually got thirsty. Before (and now), I took sips of water when I was bored, or tired, or to ease my stress level at being so very hot and achey. I’m very seldom actually thirsty in class, and if I am, I can always track it back to not drinking enough water before class. My fault – not the fault of the practice. The teachers at that studio all advised against drinking during class, pointing out that it was easier to feel dizzy, disrupt your carefully cultivated temperature balance, and that of course it would make you feel like puking during Kapalabhati breathing. All true. This doesn’t mean that my weak ass avoids drinking water, now that I’m at a different studio. However, I probably need to step back from knowingly allowing my weakness to get the better of me in class.
I’ve been reading other peoples’ blogs who say they get massages or eye masks or aromatherapy during class, but this has not been anything close to the norm in my small experience. What ‘extras’ have you seen in your Bikram studios? Anything you liked a lot? Anything you hated? I’m interested in knowing how very different something that is so regimented can be.