Well, here we go!!!
Bikram is, well, everything everyone proclaimed and warned he would be. He's unbelievable. My first impression of him, to my great surprise, was a combination of, "He's handsome/He's ridiculously fit/He's fucking 60 years old????" Subsequent impressions were:
1. He is wearing snakeskin shoes, a skin tight black lycra t-shirt with silver spirals on the shoulders, and skinny-guy pants.
2. He is wearing a rolex, or something about as shiny.
3. Wow. He really likes to brag. Not that he doesn't have a staggering amount to brag about, but the onslaught of hyperbole and exaggeration (which we were warned about) seems to diminish the impact of the indisputably amazing things that he's done.
4. He is the GREATEST HYPERBOLIST THAT HAS EVER LIVED OR EVER WILL LIVE.
5. Goddamit, I still like him.
Not that I don't want to like Bikram, but this is the weird part about all of this. It feels very... culty. There were moments when I saw myself in the room, nodding in agreement with everybody else in the class with something Bikram had said, and it just felt so strange. I had a weird revulsion to the way it all appeared, from an external point of view. It reminded me at times of The Organization! The P.P.R.!!! Power Through Positive Real Estate!!!! More than once. I'll have to learn to take what is good and disregard superficial similarities to bad images for me.
I suppose more significantly, though... I MADE IT THROUGH MY FIRST YOGA CLASS TAUGHT BY BIKRAM!!! I want to hug Anika and Eric for preparing me for this. I had this weird suspicion that they were gradually increasing the intensity in our studio of late - and whether or not that was with my impending journey in mind, it worked. I did every pose as best I could. I didn't fall out of standing head to knee, though I couldn't extend... I didn't fall out of standing bow, though I did let myself out twice (I did come back in, though). People were dropping left and right!!! I made the mistake of putting my mat DIRECTLY beneath the heat vent, which was exactly like holding a hair dryer about three to six inches away from the face for two hours. Bikram's classes are LOOOONG. Singing. Stories. Poses randomly held for way long. And I made it! We were so smushed together that the girl in front of me (who was kinda like an evil yoga-snob Sabra) hit me with her leg twice as she fell out of standing bow. It wasn't her fault, she couldn't have avoided me, but the annoyance vibes from her that followed (there was nowhere for me to move, I was hitting people left, right, and behind) were kinda unnecessary. But... NO DRAMA!!!!
However, all of this pales in comparison to the best thing that happened today. Allen - this one's for you. We had the Chief of Medicine of all the UCLA Medical Schools and Hospitals and Extensions come to speak to us about how to prevent hyponutremia (loss of electrolytes) and over/under hydration. He also answered many general medical questions, all with the same basic answer, "this practice, in my medical opinion, works better than anything else I've seen for prevention of sickness and disease and injury". However, there was a lengthy Q&A session following his talk, and people were asking random, bizarre questions about various electrolyte replacement solutions. A woman had her hand up solidly in the back for like three minutes, and when he finally called on her, she just belted out in a slightly weird, loud voice:
Lady: "WHAT ABOUT MANGOSTEEN?"
Lady: "WHAT ABOUT MANGOSTEEN?"
Dr: "I'm sorry, but what do you mean? Mangos? They are a good source of electrolytes, yes."
Lady: "NO, MANGOSTEEN."
Dr: "I'm sorry, I still don't understand".
Then he took the next question. This is the most wonderful thing that could have possibly happened today. OBVIOUSLY the universe congratulating you, Allen, on completing your first yoga class. Namaste, bitches. Namaste.