Back to Bikram: Hot Damn!

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Lured by my best friend’s flattened, middle-age tummy, I returned to Bikram (heated) yoga this week for a $20 new-student fee that includes all the heavy sweating you can squeeze into seven days. I used to boast that I don’t perspire when I work out. Cut to the scene of me in furnace; clad in Lycra shorts, trying feverishly to grip my super slick thighs, drops pouring off my freckled face like giant beads seeping off of a leaky roof in a storm. It wasn’t pretty. Bikram rarely is pretty.

Except for the ridiculously pretty goddess in the row in front of me. Was it a coincidence she appeared east Indian with her exotic eyes, long braided mane, chestnut skin, and petite yet substantial frame? Man, how she contorted her limber body in the heat of the morning, exhibiting a memory of great agility in poses that illustrated how it should look but rarely does. Another athletic Nordic blonde standing front and center was also able to pull off the poses with great acumen but had none of the grace that the other Indian woman possessed, at least not to me. She looked fit. But she didn’t look HOT.

I seek to look hot, as well, as the years accumulate on my face and body. Lately, I’ve been storing the angst of troubled relationships and work exhaustion, and just two sessions of yoga have already provided some relief. The excruciating pain that shoots through my right leg when I drive seems to have calmed down. The tenderness on my left foot pad when I exercise is somewhat diminished. I’m drinking more water, too.

The tummy will take much longer. I spent months allowing pleasure: yes to the second glass of wine, yes to the frozen desserts after the rushed summer dinners. Yes to the idea of staying in and finishing a story rather than getting my ass outside to walk. Yes to that teaching job that had me commuting in a car for two hours a day to teach Bay Area kids how to compose fiction, how to pull off a news article.

But getting hotter is torture. It took all I have to remain in the inferno during the ninety minutes of Bikram. Mind over matter. Think Eat Pray Love. Remember to let the negative thoughts pass through while getting into the heat of the moment. Try not to die when compressing the giant abdomen against the thighs to form a seal. Suck it in. Stick it out. Drink the water that is getting warmer every moment. Pour the water on your head even though it dries in seconds. Don’t smell the moldy towels.

Yes, Bikram gets me hot, hotter than hell. And it might very well be hell, by the looks of indifference on the faces of the other victims, who never smile or say hello or show empathy. They are so cool, those people. Too cool for school. Too cool for an aging mom like me, who must look very pained every time I’m told to turn around on the mat and lie down and then sit up. I hate that part. I hate many of the parts. I hate that the instructor is a Malibu Barbie with a microphone who calls us “folks” while leading us in the sweat fest. Folks? Yoga is spiritual, not spirited, babe. I’m never part of any club that can be referred to as folks.

But I will return. As I said, time is marching on. I want to be hot. Not like the skinny Nordic blonde. Hot like the east Indian goddess. Then I can celebrate with body henna and incense and perhaps hot sex. Perhaps with a hot, east Indian man. Hot damn!



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