I had bought a Groupon shortly before October 17th, 2011, 5:30 p.m. I wasn’t sure about what to expect. When I facebooked my friends for advice, one lady put it simply:
“Bring plenty of water and know when to lie down. Your goal is to stay in the room for the entire time.”
“Lie down?” I thought,”That won’t happen to me! I will never sit out of a pose and of course, I will stay in the room for the entire time. Besides, I spent five weeks in Taiwan, my parents’ homeland. Of course I will be a trooper!”
When The First Bikram Class day arrived, I excitedly told my coworkers about it and I remember that it was the first thing on my mind when I raced home from work. Per advice from the studio’s website, I retrained from eating two hours before class and I drank plenty of water. I packed my bath towels and I enthusiastically slung my yoga mat around my shoulders and off I went.
When I first arrived, I was about thirty minutes early, so I looked into the studio where the 3:30 class was wrapping up. I could only see the teacher standing on his platform and all I remember was that I was grateful to see that he was wearing glasses. I was a bit worried that my glasses would get in the way.
After I changed out of my street clothes, I set up my mat towards the center of the room. When I lady put her mat right in front of me and the woman next to me, the woman next to me muttered something about not wanting the lady’s foot in her face and reluctantly tried to move back.
Lying in savasana for about ten minutes, waiting for the teacher, felt like an hour. I kept on wondering when class was going to start. Many people had warned me about how the hot room would stink like sweat, but luckily, this studio really has a good system for circulating the stinkies out.
Finally, the teacher, who happened to be the studio director, arrived bounding with energy and a towel wrapped around his waist. When he led us through the pranayama breathing, I realized that I was really in for a very difficult class. The pranayama arms were already wearing me down. How in the h&&l was I going to be able to go through the entire class without passing out?
Head to feet pose was a real doozy because he kept on telling us to put our forearms BEHIND our calves. I couldn’t even reach my feet, let alone do what I felt like he was demanding us to do. Furthermore, to my dismay, we had to do the second set of half moon AGAIN! We hadn’t even reached “party time” (the name for our water break) yet and I was ready to throw in the towel (no pun intended).
Eagle pose was rather anticlimactic, but beforehand, the awkward pose indeed killed my desire to continue on with the class. First the squat was fine, but the “up like a ballerina” and then the squeezing of the knees together did me in. Then we had to do it again!
To make matters worse, the “trikanasana” was really a “tricky pose”. It was nothing like the trikanasana I learned from Rodney Yee’s videos, which I already found challenging. It was Warrior 2 for the masochist. As we continued on with the standing series, I shook my head vigorously at the instructor as he instructed us to go through the poses.
Finally, we had savasana. However, it didn’t feel like a break. Nevertheless, I thought that the floor series would be a piece of cake. I don’t remember shaking my head during the floor poses, but I did breathe a sigh of relief after the rabbit.
I tried to use a yoga band to stretch, but the teacher said,”What are you doing?! You can’t use that!” It was such a crowded class. How was he able to notice ME in a sea of sweaty people?
At the end of class, I thought about how difficult it was. However, I realized that I enjoyed myself and I wanted to come back.
After a week of no Bikram, I was ready to return. I thought I would only go twice a week, but that plan changed. I went four times back to that studio and actually once to a studio in another neighborhood. Then, I started going every day, throwing in a double for good measure when I had the time.
One of the instructors told me that she remembered seeing me in class on the first day. She was standing in the front row and could see me in the mirror. She said she remembered me shaking my head at the teacher at the beginning of each pose.
I am humbled when I think about the first day of my Bikram practice and I hope that I will continue to remember how it felt to take that first step and to push my hips into that half moon shape.