Yogavangelist: Introducing Friends to Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga with friends!

Growing up as a fundamentalist Christian, I am no stranger to the ‘evangelist’ idea. I was taught about how to ‘witness’ to my friends, and the importance of ‘preaching the gospel’ so that people I knew could be ‘saved’ and ‘go to heaven.’ I wonder if I just never believed any of the hype, because as an anxious person I never felt comfortable blabbing about Christian doctrine with friends, let alone with strangers. Sure I’d have discussions, but never in an evangelist sort of way.

I wonder if I was just never a good enough Christian, that I must never have really believed in all of it, because my evangelist-anxiety has not extended to things like Bikram yoga. Yesterday my bestie The Anxious Hippie drove up to visit me for the long weekend, and we headed on out to coffee and a FREE bikram yoga class thanks to the Valentine’s Day special my studio was having.

This makes the 6th friend/family member that I’ve convinced to try a Bikram class, and I’ve invited at least as many more that have politely declined (or outright said HELL NO to the heat!). But she freaking KILLED IT YA’LL. I mean, totally. The heat didn’t seem to bother her one bit, and she had a great balance of working hard, but not pushing herself past her comfort point. It was so great to have her in class!

So there you go. I’m the crazy yogavangelist, and I might come knocking on your door with pamphlets and fliers about the benefits of Bikram yoga! Because Lord knows it’s certainly changing my life (did I mention I weigh less than I did at my wedding 5 years ago? WAHOO!).

How do you share your love of yoga with others?

How Drinking Beer Leads to Yoga Poses


Sometimes you just need a girl’s day, that turns into a girl’s night. And with little ones roaming around, this spontaneous day was actually very well planned…down to the last minute, even.

We started off with a leisurely drive up north to a Korean women’s spa. WHOA, what an experience. It felt somewhere between radically amazing and downright uncomfortable. While lying on a wet massage table, getting scrubbed by a Korean woman named “Tina,” next to at least 10 other women getting the same body scrub, I couldn’t help but feel that this was about 1/2 a step away from a Korean red light district. But at the end of the day I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated that wandering around in our hospital dressing gowns with shower caps like psych patients that I would certainly go back.

And we headed on down to the U district for a shampoo and blow out, before we went out to dinner. And then, finally, the fun part of our day…drinking at Gordon Biersch brewery. YUM! On our way back to the hotel, after 1 (or 5) beers, we just had to bust out some yoga moves. We don’t do yoga 4 times a week together to not want to do them while a bit tipsy!

Toe Stand

despite the beer, her balance is amazing!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

nothing like a heart opener to end the night!

24 hours of pure girl’s day bliss. We woke up to croissants and mimosas in bed, and I felt so relaxed it was unbelievable!

Merry Yogamas


This morning, after presents were opened and pancakes devoured, I got the privilege to attend a silent yoga class. The same 26 bikram postures we practiced, but our teacher led us quietly through the poses, only telling us when to begin and when to end. There were fifteen of us breathing and sweating in unison, and the atmosphere was one of joy in the midst of the crazy holiday around us.

I’m so thankful this practice is changing my life.

Spiders like Hot Yoga

I was doing my best to not stare too much at the woman in long sleeves and long pants in the yoga hot room. Her hair was in a bound ponytail, held together by a cream ribbon wound all the way and knotted at the bottom. Her eyes held the perfect ‘soft gaze’ which appeared as if she was almost sleeping in some of the standing poses, but her alertness was also noticeable. While just as flexible and calm looking as Mellow, there was a less-than-pretentious air about her that made me stand in awe, rather than in jealousy. She even caught my eye at one point and made the “this is hard and I’m tired face” and I winked at her. It was like this strange guru experience that left me feeling empowered rather than downtrodden the rest of the class.

So while I was busy thinking about this middle aged fairy yoga nymph in front of me, trying to focus on really relaxing into Savasana (in hopes of getting my body to remember that feeling when I went home to sleep), I felt this little tickle on my arm. And it’s not terribly unusual, since I’m in a room heated to 105 degrees and sweat dribbles down my skin constantly. But the tickle tickled some more, and so I broke from the resting corpse pose to wipe away the sweat and then I realized it wasn’t sweat it was a spider.


In the middle of the quietest time of the yoga series, I had a spider crawling on my arm.

How I managed to not freak out, must be attributed to the fact that I was in a yoga studio, because if a spider would crawl on me at any other time, I wold have probably screamed. And killed it. But I’m in a place that values ahimsa (non-harm) so I didn’t feel great about squashing a living creature who was probably trying to become more mindful and flexible himself. So I batted the spider away and he started to crawl across the floor. For the next several floor postures I kept a way eye on this little guy, which strangely helped take my focus off the difficulty of locust and bow pose. I’m sure there’s some metaphorical or spiritual lesson there, but I haven’t yet uncovered it yet. Because, a spider was crawling on me.

I’m sad to report that I think the spider was inadvertently squashed/drowned by the man in the front row during one of the situps. Either that or he made a huge break for it and I lost track of him. Because the spider was smaller than my pinky nail. But still…spider…in yoga class…on my arm…

Bikram Yoga

ignore my poor bow form :)

ignore my poor bow form 🙂

My 10 classes for $10 special ran out this week and so I took the leap of faith and switched to the yoga studio 7 minutes from my house. Initially I had been skeptical about hot yoga and bikram yoga (mostly because people who do it seem to be in a sort of cult…much like my crossfitting friends 🙂 ). But I loved hot yoga, and really had to convince myself that the switch would be worth it…closer studio…same price…longer workouts that would actually work with my schedule, hope for having a community, etc.

But making the switch was nerve wracking. Because…if it didn’t work out, it didn’t leave me many other options (unless I was willing to drive, which is good in theory but bad in actual practice). So this week I took my first class and….whoa…I can see why people feel cultish about it!

I had loved the other studio until I joined this closer one. Whereas I had gotten used to giant space heaters hanging down from the ceiling making me feel like I was standing in front of a hair dryer, this studio has the heaters all recessed into the ceiling, so the room just feels warm. I’m not a huge fan of the flourescent lighting, but quickly got over that because of the COMMUNITY feel of the class. Holy moley. The instructor chatted me up before class, introduced me to the class as we started, gave verbal instructions to everyone BY NAME and was super encouraging. Wow. I walked away feeling validated, positive about my own practice, and like I had been noticed and welcomed. Something that didn’t happen at the other studio, it always felt like it was just about getting me to sign up and be a regular paying customer.

The workout was somewhat strange at first, starting with their pranayama breathing, but fortunately the Hot Yoga class I had been going to followed a loose version of Bikram’s 26 postures. While I’m still not sure how I feel about Bikram, the man behind the series, much preferring the ideology of Ashtanga or Anusara yoga, I am really digging the workout and the community vibe that I’m getting over here…and looking forward to my next class! I am hoping to make this a part of my regular weekly schedule!

Have you ever been anxious about a particular type of workout and then tried it and loved it? Anybody else experience hot yoga or bikram yoga? Thoughts?

How Hot Yoga Prepared Me to Meet My Great Aunties

Hot yoga is humbling. I’m there in the sweaty room, with limber (and not so limber) yoginis and yogis, all working hard in our own practice. And while, in other yoga classes, I have felt this internal dialogue of competition (mostly with myself, but sometimes this though ‘I don’t want them to see me quit or rest’) that has pushed me forward in my practice. A little competition is okay, in that it pushes me forward, seeing how a pose can be done in ‘full expression’ is thrilling if I let it be, discouraging if I let it be, too. I rarely let it be discouraging.

But here I am, in an abnormally hot room (their heaters were on overdrive from a weekend where they hadn’t been going at all), and the sweat was pouring off me. I wasn’t able to do many of the positions that I normally can do, and so I spent much of my time, as instructed at the beginning of class “focusing on the breath, taking breaks on the mat.” I sat in easy pose, breathing, watching my belly rise in the mirror, while all around me the yoginis bent into triangle and eagle and balancing stick or sugarcane. I was silencing my internal chatter, and then the instructions were to ‘turn a quarter turn to the left,” and suddenly I was there, in easy pose, with the rest of the class turned toward me. Wow. Talk about feeling vulnerable. I sat, and breathed and watched, but instead of disassociating, I stayed present…I stayed connected to the process of being in the room with these people.

I took this experience as I headed out for a family reunion. Because I had been invited, by my biological dad, to meet one of my grandma’s sisters. Since my grandmother has been dead for many years, it would be a treat for me to meet a sister. And then I got there, with Potamus and Boof, and I was actually meeting THREE sisters! Hot dang, these little old ladies were hilarious. Sitting around the table, drinking beer, telling stories from days gone by. I loved the oldest giving the youngest a ribbing for being a “hussy” as a teen, since she winked at her future-husband to get him to ask her to dance. Scandalous, right?

But there was this moment, when part of me took a step back (a mental step back?), where I saw myself sitting around the table interacting with these women. These women who are my blood. Three aunts, three great-aunts, and me. A part of them because of blood, apart from them because of adoption. They certainly welcomed me with open arms and I could see the ease in which I fit in…and the way in which I also do not belong. Living in this gray place is hard, but hot yoga helps. Because when the heat is turned up I have no choice but to be honest that I need to breathe, need to take a break, rather than try and push or force something that isn’t working, and can embrace it when it is.

Bread Dough Breathing


Today was big for me. As much as I’ve crowed about my pretty good body image, even flaunting my adorbz swimsuit in the great Pacific Ocean, I have yet to go to hot yoga in shorts and a sports bra. The room is full of hairy-backed middle aged men, gumby tanned women who have, after class, proudly proclaimed their excitement to go home and eat a salad (true story), and a wide range of others, including a diminutive blonde with amazing dreadlocks and a girl who wore a sweatshirt around her waist the entire workout (wtf?). Almost everyone is stripped down to their bare necessities, but there has been one thing I haven’t seen: pale postpartum belly flab.

I was nervous in the locker room. I had brought a safety tank-top that I could throw on if I needed, but I decided to be tittsey and just GO FOR IT. So, there I was, sweating alongside Sasquatch (seriously) and ashram-goddess-reincarnate. I could see my bare belly in the mirror, but from the distance it looked different than I’ve seen it before. My stretch marks swayed side to side, back and forth, in ardha chandrasana and sweat rolled down.

And, as we were lying in shavasana, the teacher instructed us to belly breathe. And I noticed this image in my mind, of my soft, white, doughy belly rising and falling…like bread dough. In the heat, dough rises, you punch it down, and it rises again. Takes the whole ‘bun-in-the-oven’ metaphor in a different direction. Rising, falling, baking in the warm room. Bread-dough belly breathing.

Yoga with a toddler…

I thought it was funny that there were all these signs posted in the front and side of the yoga studio! Guess the restaurant next door REALLY doesn’t want people parking there…

This week I started some Hot Yoga classes. I was convinced with the 10 classes for $10 deal that the studio was offering, though the whole idea of hot yoga made me…nervous…to say the least. I used to joke that in India we didn’t call it hot yoga, we just called it yoga, because it was HOT already, but not because of some artificial heaters blowing air at us! Ha!

But, I am really pleased with how much I love this new yoga class. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really practiced much in the past 2 years, or the fact that the teacher is an awesome mix of zen and kick-butt-encourager, that I am pretty hooked. Sadly, after the 10 sessions I won’t be able to continue at this studio, but there is a Bikram studio about 10 blocks from my house, so I’ll probably do that one, even though I know that it’ll be even more different than I’m used to (only doing the same 26 poses every time), but I think I need something within a close distance to entice me…that I won’t be up for driving 30 minutes each way to workout!

I’ve noticed, though, just in this week, of going to a few classes, that I’ve already started doing some asanas at home when I get the chance. I’ve given up on the idea of having a flowing 90 minute home practice, but I can do a warrior or two in between poopy diapers! And today, Potamus thought my doing yoga was some GREAT ADVENTURE TO BE HAD! In downward dog he liked climbing over me, in sphinx pose he climbed on my back, and there I was…doing full locust, bow, and child’s pose…with a toddler on my back! I wish I would have gotten a picture of it! It felt good to incorporate Potamus into my budding yoga practice…hopefully one day maybe he’ll join in!

What’s your favorite style of yoga? How has your yoga practiced changed over the years?