The night I arrived in LA on our drive to the hotel we passed Bikram’s Headquarters. The reviews seem right, it does look a little broken down, I guess Bikram is serious when he means he makes us go in uncomfortable situations to learn to be more comfortable in any situation!!
Of course all my friends thought I was completely nutso that I was waking up at 6:15 to go to the 7 am class at the headquarters, but I cannot tell you how excited I was. When I arrived to the studio, there was a mini parking lot and it was $1 for parking, when I walked into the lobby, the front desk man could tell I was new because I looked confused about what was where. I signed in and paid for my class, and couldn’t stop looking at all the photos of Bikram and his students all around the lobby in different yoga postures. The lobby felt very homely, and had comfy couches, a tv, and lots of open space. I felt rushes inside, thinking that Bikram walks around this place himself !! Anyways I went into the locker room, which was also quite large and I was astonished to see that the showers had no curtains or doors!! They were just stalls with the shower faucets and soap/shampoo in each. Man this Bikram really is on making us feel uncomfortable and making us step out of our comfort zones. I have definitely NEVER showered in public like that before, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to either…!!
After changing and securing my things away I realized I forgot to ask for a mat rental, when I went to the front desk he told me it was free and just had to get it from the back. How sweet! The towels and mat rentals were both free, which made me feel somewhat more welcomed to Bikram’s “Torture Chamber.” After finding the door to the hot room, when I walked in, straight ahead of me was the pedestal I saw in pictures of where Bikram climbs up on and sits on a comfy couch chair while yelling at everyone in the room. Not to mention, the room was HUGEEEEE, I saw the capacity sign which said 300 persons. The room was dark and had a carpet and just a few people who had already set up their mats ready for class. It was my turn, should I go right in front of the mirror? Or creep in the back area where I saw a couple people hiding? Nope, I decided to go full force in front of the 300 capacity room in front of the mirror! A teacher walked in when it was 7 and started class, he was pretty soft spoken, not what I expected of a teacher who taught in Bikram’s studio. Class was great though, it was the first time I made a huge effort to make it to a Bikram studio even while on vacation.
That night everyone was going out and getting ‘trashed’ with the bridal party. I was so tempted but I knew I wanted to be well hydrated when I was Bikram’s class the next morning. I mean I didn’t want to be hungover in front of Bikram himself, that would seem like a huge insult! We got to bed around 2 or 3 am but it worked out well since the class wasn’t till 10 am. My friend dropped me to the studio since it was going to be hella crowded since Bikram would be there. Now I knew the drill, the check in counter, the locker room, and of course the free mat and towels =). I wanted to sit my mat up somewhat near his pedestal so he could see me and maybe notice me. I didn’t want to be too noticeable though because who knows what kind of names he would call me! (I heard of stories of him calling people out and being really strict.) I found a perfect spot to the right of his pedestal with still some people in between me and where he would be standing.
It is 10:15 and still no sign of Bikram, finally a little man walks in the room, and he has a little bun on the top of his head, and a mic on his face. I knew that was him! He walked through the crowd of students and some people bowed to him and put their hands together in Namaste as a sign of respect. My heart was rushing seeing him walk through the class. He was hilarious, he was grunting and trying to make mean faces to his students to try to act tough but he just looked silly! It was adorable though. I will say he looked like he was around 40 years old, and he is over 60 years old, which was amazing to me. HE was just as fit as everyone said he looks.
As he made it to his pedestal he introduced himself and said hello to any newbies, and started ranting off in stories. It seemed like he hadn’t been to the studio in a while because he kept talking about people he ran into after a long time today. There was one particular man he pointed out, his name was Larry, he asked us how old we thought he looked, and most people said probably 35 or 40, and Bikram kindly asked Larry to please tell us his real age, and he said 72 !!!! Can You believe that? The whole room started cheering and whistling, and Bikram goes. HMPFFF, THat is Bikram Yoga for you!! (He loves to make grunting sounds apparently, because he did it most of class.)
The class was great, at one point he did notice me and said Maam in the Red, you look like a flat tire, please sit LOWER, HMPF!!!! I was like omgg Bikram talked to me!!! There were some real amazing people in there, but a good mix of all sizes, shapes, and flexibilities. He would pick out certain people in the class to stay in their pose while everyone got out, so we could see what the pose should ultimately look like. He was very inspiring, telling us stories of different people he worked with and things people have healed. He kept saying we will never have to go to a doctor or chiropractor if we kept coming to his class. He was very interactive and asked the class questions like what is the most important thing in the world to you? He said he has heard things like Money, Family, Kids, my Parents, my house, but no one ever says “my life.” He said YOUR LIFE is the most important thing to you. He also made some jokes about how he takes peoples money that they would otherwise gives to doctors, and he buys cars with it. I know he really does buy cars since that is his hobby but the way he was throwing it out and making jokes about it was in reference to everyone calling him ‘not a real yogi’ because he is so wealthy, so in turn he jokes about it back to the people. Anyone who does worship him would never second guess him because they know how powerful his yoga is and would in fact give him all their riches, just to gain what he sells, which is ‘life.’
He also joked a couple times saying, what you think I sell here? Cheesecake??? NO, I sell PAIN, only pain will bring you to life, you must use your whole body like you have never. He says we have become so sedentary, lazy, and engage in sports that don’t use our whole bodies and that is why it takes time to heal.
Anyways I been rambling for a while, and I could probably continue, but overall it was amazing taking Bikram’s class himself! And maybe one day I will get to do it again! That was the last time he was teaching in that studio because it is closing down and he is opening a new one somewhere else. So I got super super lucky, and especially because he was going to Spain for the next 2 months for some seminars!
A journey to connect with me.