NERDY YOGA STUFF!
THIS IS A GREAT QUESTION!!! I’ve had a lot of time to think about this lately, and I have a lot to say about it, so get ready (cracks knuckles)…
WARNING: This post is about to get REAAAAAAAL nerdy… So if you’re not a yoga nerd and/or not interested in hearing me detail the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between Bikram and Vinyasa - or if you don’t even know what those two things are (Indian curries? Authors? Chewing tobaccos?), you can click here to be redirected to a YouTube of bunnies in paper cups - VERY CUTE!!! If yoga IS your thing and you wanna come with me on this nerd-trip (like a road trip, GET IT?!?), hop in the backseat and LET’S GO.
To answer the question, YES, right now I like Bikram better than Vinyasa. Here are a few reasons why…
BIKRAM YOGA IS ALWAYS THE SAME. No matter where or when or with whom you take class, it’s always 26 poses, in the same order, held for the same amount of time. ALWAYS. With Vinyasa, you never know what you’re going to get, and it could be ANYTHING. Class might be crazy hard and fast one day, and the next day you might chant for 20 minutes and then do a gentle flow and lots of restorative poses. And you NEVER know before you get there. FRUSTRATING! At least for me. I like to know what I’m in for. Also, when you do the same sequence every day, you can really see how your mind and body start to change. It never gets boring, because even though the poses stay the same, YOU are always different!
IT’S AMAZING FOR CULTIVATING FOCUS. Bikram is tough stuff, and if you’re not focused, you’re falling. Although Vinyasa can be tough at times, let’s be honest, for the most part, it’s pretty fun! And because it’s fun, my mind would wander all OVER the place in my Vinyasa classes. My internal dialogue went something like this:
”Ohhh I look so pretty doing this pose! Ahhhh my hair is long! I love arm balances because I am good at them, LOOK how good I am at this arm balance! Oh yessss, I feel like I’m flyingggg! OH LOOK - the sun is shining in the window and I wonder what I’ll eat for dinner tonight?!?”
Bikram is distinctly NOT fun. EVER. It is HARD and BRUTAL. The standard Bikram class is MUCH HARDER than any Vinyasa class I’ve EVER taken. NO ONE looks pretty doing the poses. If you have long hair you better put that shit up. There are no arm balances. You never feel like you’re flying. And if you notice the sun shining through the window, or start to think about what you’re eating for dinner, I guarantee you’ve just fallen over. Seriously, it takes all of my concentration in that class to a) stay upright throughout b) not pass out c) make it out alive. When my mind wanders, I start getting nauseous.
But, in a weird way, this is kind of awesome! The difficulty of the class really forces you to focus, HARD, for a full 90 minutes. Which is WAY longer than I can normally focus on anyth— OH LOOK, A BUTTERFLY!!!
IT FORCES YOU TO DEVELOP A REALLY STRONG MIND. Bikram is MUCH more of a mind game than Vinyasa. The poses aren’t hard. For the most part, they’re pretty simple! It’s HOLDING the poses for the specified amount of time, in conjuction with the extreme heat of the room (at least 105 Farenheit) that makes things difficult. It’s tough on the body for sure, but mostly it’s tough on the mind.
It’s funny how your mind will tell you to give up, or tell you you can’t do “it” when shit starts to get uncomfortable. It’s funny how one little wobble can trigger a total body panic response of OH GOD I’m so tired and I’m THIRSTY and I’m HOT and MY HEART IS POUNDING and OH GOD NOW I CAN’T BREATHE and I’M PRETTY SURE I’M GOING TO DIE RIGHT HERE ON MY MAT IN THIS HORRIBLE HOT ROOM!!! And suddenly, you want to run out of the room and into the shower and out of the studio and never come back.
At the beginning of every class, the teacher will invariably tell you that the most important thing is that you stay in the room the whole time. No matter how many times you have to sit down, no matter how tired you are, no matter how badly you want to leave, you stay in the room. By doing so, you learn how to deal when your mind throws a shit fit. It’s not fun or anything, but you figure it out. And usually you just have to stop for a moment, adjust your focus, BREATHE, and get through it. And when you can get through the tough stuff it in class, you can get through it in life, and THAT’S YOGA! Ohhhhhh SNAP!
MORE PHYSICAL, LESS SPIRITUAL. No chanting, no harmonium, no Hindu theology. The class is described as a “silent meditation”, and at this particular moment in my life, I prefer that over the in-your-face-ness of the spiritual aspect in many Vinyasa classes.
I LOVE TO SWEAT. I mean, I don’t really like the FEELING of sweating so much, but I like that it’s a good way to detoxify and stay healthy. I’ll tell you, since I’ve been sweating out buckets every day, my skin has never been better or healthier. And really…
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DETOX. All of the poses are designed to detoxify the body and regulate it’s functions. Specifically, there are certain poses in Bikram referred to as “compressions”, which are basically huge forward bends where you contract your mid-section, HARD, and stick your forehead on your knee. THIS IS SUPER UNCOMOFORTABLE, but apparently really good for regulating your blood sugar, and picking up your metabolism, and cleaning up the uckiness in your inner organs! I like to think I’m undoing the damage of years of eating nachos and beer for dinner… Mmmmm, NACHOS…
I LIKE BURNING 900 CALORIES PER HOUR. And I’d rather do this than run on the treadmill. Also, along those lines…
I’VE LOST 10 POUNDS. IN A MONTH. I never lost weight doing Vinyasa, no matter how many classes I took. Come on people, that is not nothing! This detox-ing business is for real, and it works!
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TEACHER. OR THE PLAYLIST. OR THE ‘THEME OF THE MONTH’. The teachers stick to a standard dialogue. There is no music. There is no spiritual theme. All of that is removed. Everything is stripped down, and it’s all about you, the student, working with your own mind and body, without the help - or the interference - of anything else. And at the end of the day, that’s what I like best.
NAMASTE, YAY YOGA!
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