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Never take a bikram yoga class in Duluth without bringing water

by Dan Cash

To set the scene I head to Duluth, Minnesota for a business trip and my boss and I decide that going to bikram following a 4 hour drive and a full day of work is a good idea.  It's about 85 degrees outside, we are late getting to the class so we sprint 5 blocks and I arrive with not an ounce of water.  

105 degrees, in the basement of an older building in what can only be described as the HOTTEST hot yoga class I have ever found myself in.  

So I lay back, relax and start to work on my breathing.  At this point I have realized that if I can't calm my breathing I am going to have a real difficult time making it out of this class without looking like a complete idiot.  

In perfect guy form when asked by the instructor Tif if we have done bikram before we both reply in direct form: "Oh yes!".  

This was mistake two in the class.  

I have come to find out that people who do hot yoga consistently are never messing around.  This is a way of life and something they believe very strongly in.  So I assume when a guy like me shows up saying how he knows what he's doing in a yoga room there must be a sense of "yes sir I am sure that is the correct answer to my question."

In any event I make it through the first 20 minutes of the class and frankly the instructor is incredibly nice and the class is very inviting to us.  I would argue that most people don't venture out on business trips to learn about the local flair but I find it to be one of the best parts about going on business trips.  

It's a time to work hard during the day and learn about the city and culture that you are a part of at night.

So now it's 21 minutes into bikram.  We're doing some type of pose where I am consistently raising my head over my arms and I can think of only one thing: I am going to blackout.  I mean, I see stars and the amount of clear vision I have left in my brain is slowly creeping to below an inch.  Then all of a sudden I realize that if I don't leave the room at this exact moment, I will be passing out and slamming my head face first into the mirror.  

So I notice an opening as another member of the class decides to totally break hot yoga code and walk outside the room.  I flee as well and when I get into the cold hallway a rush of blood comes into my head when for the first time since entering the room I feel as though I am not going to pass out. 

I will now re-set the scene for you.  I have spent the last 30 minutes attempting to maintain composure by controlling my breathing and attempting to cool my body.  This doesn't work so now I find myself in a hallway in a basement in downtown Duluth, Minnesota considering whether to drink water out of the bathroom faucet or simply take my medicine and pass out.  

I choose life and drink the water.  

It's at this point that I realize the instructor is staring out the door at me with a look of concern.  Her look says: "should I call the ambulance?"  I respond with a thumbs up that I am OK and she heads back into the studio to continue with the class. 

I then go outside for a moment and it's at this point I realize that bikram yoga is always 1 hour and 30 minutes.  As Adam Sandler might say: "It would have been nice if this is something that they would have brought to my attention YESTERDAY!"  

So I make a split-second decision.  

If I go back in and finish the class I will be welcomed back into the yoga society in Duluth.  If I remain outside I may never live it down.  I choose the society and finish the class.

I lost 5lbs in that class and I would challenge anyone who has been in a wrestling room or a football practice to take a single 1:30 bikram yoga class and tell me that the other 2 practices are harder.  It's clearly something you MUST learn over time but I am starting to love it.  

Yoga in general challenges you but bikram and hot yoga are different animals that I find myself wanting to do on a weekly basis.  If nothing else, take a moment and jump outside your comfort zone.  Just make sure to bring a bottle of water when you do.

Note: Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and wikimedia commons