Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Gettin' Hot In Herre...

This didn't happen in my class but part of me kind of wishes it had.
In college, when my roommate & I would get overwhelmed with writing papers about the plight of the migrant farm worker & the patriarchy, we would head to the on-campus dance club ("Tha 'Sco" = short for "Tha Discotheque") and dance horribly to Nelly's 2002 hit "Hot in Herre."

It's not that we found Nelly particularly aesthetically or lyrically pleasing; it's that we didn't have to freaking analyze it in its historical, sociological, & ethnomusicological contexts. When Nelly says "It's gettin hot in herre / so take off all your clothes," what he is in fact saying is, "It's gettin hot in herre / so take off all your clothes," and that's really as hard as your brain is expected to work while listening to it.

It is not about the plight of the migrant farm worker.

So, in a way, "Hot in Herre" is like a zen koan. Focusing on the words allows you to enter into the mushin "no-mind" state and, paradoxically, not focus on them.

Which means that, in a way, the fact that the lyrics to "Hot in Herre" were all I could think about during my first Bikram yoga class Monday night was....not entirely inappropriate?

After three different friends had recommended Bikram yoga as a way of helping to loosen up the muscles in my hip, I decided to give it a shot. I found a studio fairly close to my house with not-insane prices and really great reviews & decided I would try to go three straight days in a row. (Now, I don't think short muscle fibers is the entirety of my problem, so I'm combining this with a daily 20-minute smashing of my quads on the roller & some other mobility work for my hip capsules, but I'm open to the idea that it might help.)

I've only been once so far, so I'm not going to try to draw too many conclusions, but here are some observations from my first class:

1) After nine years in the Bay Area and five in Northern Ohio, I am a total heat wimp, so I was stunned to find that it didn't feel all that hot to me in the room. Yes, I was sweating buckets, but I didn't really have the sensation of feeling hot until maybe an hour in, and I never felt uncomfortably hot.

2) I never felt thirsty.

3) I am not amazing at yoga, but I no longer suck at it. I could do most of the poses at least as well as ~80% of the people in the room, with the exception of ones that require quad / hip flexibility & ones that required lunging / squatting on the right leg.

4) Eye make-up should be removed pre-Bikram, because, ew.

5) Post-Bikram, a seemingly ridiculous number of towels suddenly seems like about the right number of towels.

6) We are talking end-of-marathon, oops-I-just-fell-in-a-swimming-pool amounts of sweat here.

7) Breathing skizznillz for the win once more. After the class the instructor told me I did well for my first class & asked me what I thought. I mentioned how I hadn't noticed the heat almost at all for the first hour, & he said that was because I was breathing well. Again, I don't claim to be good at very much of yoga, but if there is one thing 11 years of martial arts teaches you, it's how to breathe.

8) French braid = good call.

9) Heat does surprising things to your heart rate, even when you're not exerting yourself all that hard. I'm really curious to know what ballpark mine was in, but I feel like wearing a heart rate monitor probably doesn't jive with the vibe.

10) In Bikram, modesty is not a thing. Next time I am going as close to naked as possible without making it weird.

  • Bikram: Love it / hate it / never done it / don't care?
  • Nelly / early 'aughts zen hip-hop: Love it / hate it / never heard it / don't care?


  1. Nice post and recap about Bikram. I'm not familiar with it but kind of know what it is. I just knew it was hot!

    As for rehabbing from injuries, yoga is a must I've found. And combined with cross-training it's a great way to heal.

    I look forward to reading more posts. Good luck!

  2. Never tried Bikram, but I know lots of people that have. Some people like it and some people don't. I am a total heat whimp too and also not willing to shell out like $15 to sweat my ass off. Maybe if there was a groupon deal I might be more tempted. Glad you had a good experience!

  3. I do Bikram whenever I am injured--in fact, I am going to a class tomorrow! I'm so ready to be healed, but it is a great practice when you are injured. Just be careful not to overdo it!(And don't lock your knees; they mean "lift your knee-caps" not "jam your knee-caps back!" There endeth yoga teacher spiel.)

  4. I am glad you got to a class! I really hope it helps you out. Like I said, three classes and I was cured of a tight hip flexor that had plagued me for months. I love what Bikram does for me but quite frankly I pretty much hate most if it. On especially hot and humid days I question why I even bother to do it to myself. I think it is really good mental training on days when it is hard. And yes, it is amazing how just standing there can get your heart rate up in a hot room.

    1. Heh...I think the room was hotter on my 2nd day, because getting through the last half hour or so really was like getting through a tough race!

      I'm going to finish the 3 days & a row & see how that works out with all my smashing & rolling. I can see continuing to it occasionally when I get super-tight like this.

  5. I really want to love Bikram but I just HATE knowing the sequence because I inevitably fixate on exactly which poses we have left to do. I wish I could find a studio as hot as Bikram, but that did a more unexpected vinyasa flow. And that pose where you have to lie on top of your arms with your palms on the ground? pure evil

    1. I was totally doing that on the second day, which kind of sucked since I don't know the sequence that well yet. On the other hand, at least I had a sense of how much was left, since there was no clock!