Going to your first Bikram class is a pretty unforgettable experience: The combination of Speedo-clad strangers surrounding you and 105-degree heat beating down on you tends to leave a mental mark. But my first Bikram class wasn’t unforgettable because of the Speedos; it was unforgettable because of the teacher. More specifically, how the instructor yelled at me—yes, yelled—when I tried to leave the class before class was over.
Now, it’s no secret: Bikram yoga is a difficult practice, and many folks say making it through the first class is the toughest part. I, being a Bikram newbie, was aware of this. My roommate was a Bikram regular, and she’d mentally prepared me for the total ass-kicking that would be my first class. But regardless, about 50 minutes into the 90-minute long class, I broke: I was dying for my inhaler. And for a sweet, sweet taste of air-conditioning.
I’d almost made it to the door when a loud voice screamed, “You, stop! You’re. Not. Going. ANYWHERE.” I turned to see the instructor pointing at me, and I quickly realized he was not joking. I felt like a teenager who’d gotten caught sneaking out after curfew. Embarrassed, me and my beet-red face scurried back to the mat and suffered through the remaining 40 minutes of class.
After that class, Bikram and I continued our relationship. That instructor and I did not.
This brings us to the question of the day: When is it okay to leave a yoga class early? My bad Bikram experience came flooding into my mind yesterday when I read an NPR piece debating exactly this question. So I decided to talk to local yoga instructor and Be Well Philly cover gal Jennifer Schelter to get her take on when it’s okay to ditch the downward dogs and walk out of the classroom. Continue reading >>