Bikram yoga in Louisville: Some like it hot, hot, hot

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Sick of lifting? Welcome to the "Off Beat,"Louisville’s first-hand, evaluative look at non-traditional fitness programs in Derby City. Louisville’s resident writer, marathoner and wellness coach, Emily Ruppel, will be attending classes at a different gym every month to get a personal perspective on some of stranger ways Louisvillians stay in shape. I think I lost five pounds last night. In water. “We’re not asking you to do anything unnatural,” assured our Bikram instructor, Jennifer Brown, at intervals throughout the 90-minute workout, but doing backbends in 95-degree heat is hardly something I experience in my daily routine. “Yoga is like an oil can for your joints,” Brown encouraged our 5:30 p.m. class at Bikram Yoga Louisville’s downtown studio (651 S. 4th St.). “Breathe out, and push further into your flexibility. In this pose, you’re revitalizing your digestive system, stimulating your body’s natural cleansers. It’s like a massage for your colon, so give it a hundred percent.” A colon massage? Is this surgery or exercise?, I wondered through a curtain of sweat. Ignoring the first rule of etiquette in traditional yoga (keep your focus on your own mat), I not-so-furtively spied on other participants to see if they, too, were starting to question the wisdom of spending 15 bucks and a hefty chunk of their evening squishing around their own inner organs and stretching their muscles to the breaking point. We were practicing back-bends, and one woman, whom I nearly knocked over in the closet-sized dressing room after class, looked like—no exaggeration—a human horseshoe. The many-veined muscles that streaked down her forearms and calves informed me that she’d been on the Bikram scene for years (five, I later found). When it comes to “hot yoga,” the Proof seems to be in the (total lack of?) Pudding. Meet these yogis outside class, and the radiance of their skin, taut backs, and hardy, can-do attitudes are dead ringers for their preferred form of exercise. They don’t really look like normal humans. (I mean, these days, at this time of year, “normal” humans have a noticeable winter layer and a glazed, sun-hungry look in our eyes. We’re dying to get outside, wear a sundress [or flip-flops], and to have a good reason not to eat two pieces of pumpkin pie). Eat pie before a hot yoga class, and I bet you’ll be losing it…and not in a nice way.

Although I work in a gym, I haven't had "next day" effects like this (picture a mini hangover in every muscle) since after my first marathon.  Also, I’ve inherited my father’s sweat glands… check back next week to see if there even is a new post on the “Off Beat” …or if I’ve turned into a human raisin.

Photo: Courtesy Bikram Yoga