He was not joking.
It was sort of like hearing a perky flight attendant go through the oxygen mask "safety demonstration" right before taking off in a flying oblong box... unnerving.
Woody Allen said, "80% of success is showing up." Obviously, Woody Allen has never taken a hot yoga class before.
Bikram (aka hot yoga) is one of the hardest things I've ever survived - and as a "beginner"... surviving is the best you can hope for. Bikram definitely requires more than just showing up; it requires unwavering willpower and fearless focus in order to complete the 26 grueling postures in a studio that's ideally set at 105*F with 40% humidity.
You start sweating about 4 min into a Bikram class. And when I say sweat, I mean water gushing out of every pour in your body - so much sweat that you can't even grip your ankles because your hands slide right off.
There is an undeniable funk about hot yoga rooms, despite odor eating machines and regularly shampooed carpets. I guess that's part of it. You got to breath in everything in life - even the unpleasant - in order to push yourself towards improvement.
Our instructor was incredibly motivational. When students started dropping (and some always do), he would stand next to their mats and assure them "I'm with you." In addition to periodic reminders about finger numbness, he constantly reminded us to breath into poses. People tend to hold their breath when they are in pain; and "relaxing" into pain and nausea isn't an easy task. It's nearly impossible.
But that's the entire point. Bikram teaches you how to deal with your body when it's "uncomfortable" - which is exactly what people desperately try to avoid feeling on a daily basis. It's about making thousands of tiny adjustments in order to just get from breath to breath - squeezing, pulling and bending your body into perfect form under imperfect conditions.
You may be thinking: if it's that hard, why do people do it? Because after finishing a class, you feel completely cleansed - spiritually and physically. Bikram gives you clarity, which is worth the suffering.
So tomorrow I'll go back to the studio - to breath in the funk and exhale everything not essential for surviving the moment.