IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Yoga Tougher than Ironman?

Bikram Yoga Burr Ridge

Most of you know – I’ve been sort of out-of-commission with my running since JULY! YES, JULY! So, when a friend said to me, “Hey, I’m doing this 30 day Bikram Yoga Challenge, wanna join me?” I thought that might be exactly what I needed. For those of you that never heard of it, Bikram Yoga is a 90 minute session of the same 26 poses each session. Oh, and the room is 105 degrees (and I’m told it’s like 135 degrees with humidity).

What the heck, I can’t run, I know yoga is good for me – because as a triathlete, I’m quite inflexible – and, hey, it’s only 30 days. Right? Oh so not right… (sigh).

I joined my 30 day challenge at Bikram Yoga Burr Ridge. I joined my friends at 5pm on a Friday night for our first of the 30 days. It must be very quiet in the yoga studio. I have a hard time keeping quiet for 5 minutes, forget about 90 minutes! I walked in the room, sat my mat and towel down and nervously looked around. I’m hot. What the hell did I get myself into?

The first thing you do in this class is breathe. Yes, I said it. Breathe. I’m sweating. We are 60 seconds into the class and I’m sweating. I want to cry. I want to leave. I want to douse myself with water. Sweat is literally DRIPPING off my arms and I’m not eve doing anything yet. NOOO! These people are crazy. But my friends looked like everything was OK, so I tried to keep it together.

I went through the poses, trying to follow the instructor’s directions to a cue. I saw other people in the room bending themselves into pretzels and I wondered how they did that. OUCH, that pose hurts. Ok, modify. Don’t laugh out loud at my friends who can’t do the poses, either. We so looked ridiculous in this class…we have no business being here. We are IRONMEN, not yogis! But no yoga class is going to defeat me. I refuse. Need to calm the heart rate down? Breathe. Need to stop the dizziness? Breathe. Need to get your bearings from being upside down?? BREATHE!

None of us left the room during the first class, but believe me, each of us thought about it. Yoga is supposed to be “zen” and relaxing. Bikram does not do this for me. How is it possible to get your heart rate up so high when you’re really not DOING anything? I have no idea, but in each class, I felt like I was going to puke, fall over, pass out, cry….you name it, I felt it. Keep it together! No yoga class is going to defeat me! This became very much a mental challenge as much as physical. Can you endure the heat? Can you give each posture 100% of what you have that day and still do the entire class? Trust me, each and every day was a challenge. One day, I’d have a pose nailed. The very next day, I’d fall out of it. I noticed a quite distinct – one step forward, two steps back pattern throughout the 30 days.

On two of the days, I did 2 classes. Can I tell you, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS! Holy cow, I would leave the studio completely exhausted. I’d go home, take a shower and sleep for two hours. Yoga is simply stretching and some of the moves made my muscles very happy, even though I was shaking to hold the posture for the duration. But I’d leave and almost feel like I could fall asleep on the drive home. Very important to hydrate. Well, I think I hydrated more than anyone else there, and it still never felt like enough. Some people even did class with NO water. During many classes, I wondered why I didn’t bring THREE water bottles in the room with me. I almost always ran out.

And laundry. You gotta be kidding me with the laundry. My clothes were so completely soaked through after each class, it looked like I jumped in a swimming pool. On most occassions, I even sweated through my yoga mat. Yes, THROUGH the yoga mat. How the hell is that even possible?? I’d pick up my stuff and scoot out of the room quickly after each class hoping the other people wouldn’t notice the big sweat marks I left behind. I had to do laundry every 2-3 days to keep up with the clothes and towels I was going through. And since the class is 90 minutes, it takes 30-40 minutes for commute there and back, let’s just say this was a very time consuming experience.

The first few days were tough. After ab0ut 7 days, I started to look forward to going. After 15 days, I was on a mission. After 25 days, I just wanted it to be over. Please stop. Please let me get through another class. Why did I do this again? Oh yeah, free t-shirt. With each couple classes, I saw a bit of improvement – and THAT is what kept me going. The instructors all had their individual style and I learned something from each of them. I had the opportunity to go to a lot of different time slots, so I had a really great variety of instructors. Midge, Erin, Chris, Mara, The Polish Guy (can’t remember his name), and a few others – sometimes it was like a lightbulb went on when one of them would describe exactly what you were to try and achieve with the pose.

Final word? The 30 day challenge is not for everyone. A couple of my friends dropped out (JQ and LP), but I had another one (GO COURTNEY) who is close to finishing! It was awesome to do classes and get some of my friends to experience this – to Lisa, Bernie, Mel, Marisa, Chris, Tracy, Michaela and Barbara – THANK YOU for coming out to do a class or two with me. Whether you know it or not, it really helped me in each class when someone else I knew was there. I hope to do more classes with each of you. I am WAY more flexible when I started, but I’ll be honest and say – I need to take some time away from the yoga right now! Definitely something I’ll continue and I think it’s going to be a great compliment to my Ironman training. But 30 days in a row? Not really sure I am up for the challenge again.

Is yoga tougher than Ironman? No. If you can stay strong through Ironman, you can stay strong through this 30 day challenge. How strong are you?