Each month at That Crash Test Girl, I conduct a quasi-scientific, “real life experiment” wherein I Crash Test one of the legends, myths or modern day rumours that purport to help me live a better, a more healthy and fulfilling, a more awesome life. I post the results, always honest and often unexpected, here so you can make up your own mind about these self-help and self-health techniques.
This month’s Crash Test is Bikram yoga, for which I completed a 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge. Read part one detailing the aims, hypotheses and methods to the madness here.
Observations and Results
What I Did:
And yoga and yoga and yoga. And then some yoga. After that, I went back for more yoga. I also sweat, slept and washed a whole lot of towels.
I had one of those great, you’re-gonna-regret-this-conversation-and-try-to-pretend-it-never-ever-happened, moments at the studio in the first week of the Challenge when I was talking to one of my teachers about what to eat while completing the thirty days. See, a lot of people took the opportunity of doing the month of yoga to also clean up their diet, stop eating meat, slow down on the wine and cut out cigarettes. Smart people. I, on the other hand, figured that just completing the Challenge was enough of a good effort for the month. I clearly remember on that evening the moment that I said to my teacher, “No, no, no, not me. I’m going to listen to my body and I’m going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want and it’s going to be great!”
And, you know, it could have been. If I really had been able to tune in to my body and listen to the signs it was sending me about food, it could have been a great month for me and my body. Instead, I found myself deep in a dialogue with my sneaky mind, playing partners in a lot of conversations that went something like this:
I’m not a weight-watching fiend, but it’s possible that I actually gained weight during the first part of the Challenge. I ate far more unhealthily than normal, using the Challenge as an excuse to really eat whatever and whenever I wanted. It’s fair to say that this is not exactly how you’re supposed to do it.
After the first week and a half I garnered a little self-control, possibly learnt in all my yoga classes, and went back to my normal healthy eating habits. Funnily enough, classes became easier and I was able to go to sleep at night. The rest of the Challenge flew by and my mind was put into conversation time-out.
I’m not a big nut for all the rehydrating drinks, powders and potions you can buy, purely because for the most part they’re really expensive. Plus I’m never quite sure what’s in them, especially the powdered ones, and the last thing I want to do is add a whole bunch of sugar and chemicals to my water. Usually I’ll hydrate and rehydrate pre and post Bikram with some water with added lemon juice and the odd crack of Himalayan sea salt, a combination which has always worked just fine for me.
I figured that the Challenge was going to be a whole other world of hydration needs, though, and I was correct. Without a special focus on rehydrating between daily classes I felt weak, tired and grumpy. So I bit the bullet and bought a couple of the big litre cartons of coconut water to be my liquid ally during the Challenge.
To put it frankly, plain coconut water disgusts me. While a lot of people love the stuff, the mix of salty and sweet tastes is just not for me. And that’s ok, I’m a renowned picky eater and coconut water was probably always going to test my limits. So, I did what I do best and devised a recipe which made the coconut water bearable and, dare I say it, even tasty. After a few days on the stuff my body would crave a drink after class, letting me know that all the natural electrolytes in the coconut water were appreciated.
Soda water is a big favourite of mine because somehow carbonation seems to make everything taste better. I have a soda stream at home, so I can easily carbonate bottles of my own water and I’d always have one bottle bubbly and ready to go in the fridge each day.
Lime juice was my favourite flavour with the coconut, but you could really go to town with different juices. A pot of iced tea, pre-brewed and chilled, would also make a nice additive to the coconut + soda water, an idea I saw used in this drink over at Wellness Mama.
It took all my strength plus a few extra savasanas to get through the two doubles that I did during the Challenge.
Doubles are what we yogis call doing two classes in one day in order to make up for a missed day during the challenge, and what the rest of the world would probably rightly call pure crazy. During the Challenge I missed two days, one when I had to attend a day of auditions for a festival show I was directing and another on the second last day of the challenge when I decided to go to a birthday party instead of class.
There are people at my studio who will happily and voluntarily do doubles just because, even when they have no Challenge commitments to meet. I greatly admire these people. During my doubles I became familiar with a sensation I like to call insta-regret, a gnawing feeling that no birthday party will ever be worth three hours of Bikram in one day. By my eighth (yes, eighth!) triangle of the day my thighs were ready to give in and my head spinning. Perhaps my rehydrating techniques weren’t as great as I thought they were, or perhaps I just needed to stop being a baby about it (because I really like going to birthday parties and who ever gave me the impression that this Challenge was going to be easy?) but doubles were definitely one of the most challenging part of the Challenge and I’ve been glad to wave them goodbye!
Here’s a video of Bikram himself teaching the correct way to do triangle, or as I liked to call it on double days, posture of death.
Part 3 in the 30 Day Challenge Crash Test coming soon, including the results of completing the Challenge for both my mind and body.