"Don't look so sad, don't look lonely!" - Bikram, on the class CD
Today I practiced my yoga the old-school way; at home, in my bathroom, with just a little heat from the overhead heat lamp and steam from the shower.
It was just a silly chain of events that kept me from getting to the studio for a normal class. I slept in pretty late this morning (since I was out late celebrating my birthday last night!), and I couldn't go to the noon class because of an afternoon appointment. I had a late lunch and planned on going to the 6:30 class. Then at 4:29pm, one of my friends texted to say that she'd gotten me tickets to Avenue Q for my birthday, tonight at 8pm. Hooray!! I love Avenue Q! I saw it with the original cast on Broadway in 2004 when it had only been out for a few months, and it's remained one of my all-time favorite musicals. So this was totally excited, but it dashed all my plans of going to 6:30 class, and it was way too late to get to the 4:30.
I pondered this situation for about 3 minutes, then decided to take action. I turned on the heater in the bathroom (which probably brought it up to a balmy 71 degrees), put on some leggings and a fleece sweater, grabbed my mat, ran a hot shower for 5 minutes to steam the room up, and pulled up Bikram's class CD on my iTunes. I like listening to Bikram's instructions and chatter, and using the CD meant I'd have to do a full 90 minutes, no slacking!
I had a fun little practice. I broke a sweat (just a little), I did all my good compression and extension, I carefully created tremendous stretching sensations (though the range of the stretching was a lot smaller than usual), I got my heart rate up, and I moved my spine in all directions. I give myself -5 for lack of heat, but +2 for motivation and +2 for creativity. I'm counting it as a class, because my personal goal for this challenge was to do my 26 and 2 at least once every day, and I did get that done.
My roommate came in halfway through and nearly died laughing when she saw what I was doing. I re-enacted my most creative moment for her: in full locust pose, I stuck my left arm out over the tub and opened a door to put my right arm in the cabinet under the sink. Here is a picture.
Silliness aside, I liked "roughing it" for a day because it made me feel connected to all the awesome yogis who practice this way all the time! The home practice, or "bathroom Bikram," has a long and proud history. This is how a lot of people learned the series back in the day, before it became a big popular thing with studios in (nearly!) every state. People learned from the book and practiced on their own, without much heat, with only Bikram's picture to keep them company. Then they went to meet Bikram, took heated group classes for the first time, started teaching others, went back home, and opened up studios.
Plenty of people - hello, readers! - still practice this way, when they can't get to a studio regularly. I'm always really impressed by anyone with a consistent home practice. It seems like it must require a special kind of discipline, to just get up and do your yoga every day without a teacher to motivation you. It strikes me as a very authentic way to practice, because when you're alone in your home there is really no one to impress; your practice is completely for you. It's also a very traditional way to practice; as I understand it, the big group yoga class is a relatively modern invention. When Bikram first had the idea of teaching yoga to many people at once, his guru told him that it would never work (though he later changed his mind). Plenty of other traditions still suggest that you should practice your yoga on your own, and just check in with a teacher now and then for corrections and tips.
So today, I'm paying tribute to all the noble bathroom yogis around the world. You may be the only person in the room when you practice, but you shouldn't feel too left out, because you're never really alone. There is always someone else in the world doing exactly the same thing, listening to the same words and practicing the same postures, at the same time you are. You are connected to the history of Bikram yoga, as well as its present and its future. Rock on, yogis, and just try not to hit your head on the cabinet under the sink...