For about a month now, I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga 3-5 times per week. Bikram is unique from other types of yoga for a few reasons: it’s performed in a room that’s 110 degrees, it’s a standardized series of 26 poses, it’s practiced in a room with bright neon lights and mirrors, and someone is yelling at you to kick, kick, kick, go down, go back, way back, pull harder, stretch further, suck in your stomach, change for 90 minutes.
Bikram is perfectly formulated for my masochistic, competitive, Type A personality. It’s a grueling 90 minutes during which you work every muscle, ligament, tendon and cell in your body. You do all of this while pouring out gallons of sweat and staring at yourself in the mirror. It’s supposed to be a very personal experience, keeping your eyes focused on your body in the mirror, but of course I can’t help but sneak a peek at the person next to me to see if she can reach her forehead to the floor yet. And then I pull harder.
It’s painful and torturous at times, but I’ve lost 6 lbs in 3 weeks and can now literally bend over backwards, so the torture continues…
HOWEVER, I have a few gripes about locker room etiquette.
You can imagine what a person looks like after 90 minutes of strenuous yoga in a 110 degree room. Showers are essential. There are only three stalls, but since people leave the room at different intervals of time, it’s almost never a problem. What is a problem for me is gratuitous nudity. Now, I get it: we’re all girls here and blah, blah, blah. That being said, I do not understand why some people feel the need to abuse that silent consensus by lounging around the locker room completely naked for upwards of 10 minutes like we’re in the Garden of Eden pre-apple-snack-incident. You’re hopping in/out of the shower? Sure. You’re taking clothes off/putting clothes on? Understandable. Your towel slipped? Oopsie-daisy! You’re standing totally nude at the sink rubbing lotion all over your body for 10 minutes? NOT NECESSARY. Yes, yes, I see that you are toned, tanned and fabulous, complete with a saucy collection of suggestive tattoos and piercings, but this is not a harem and you are ruining my goddamn zen. For the love of chakras, at least put some undergarments on.
(Full disclosure: In locker room environments, my behavior is a cross between a 12 year old girl and Liz Lemon. It’s not that I’m terribly self-conscious or prudish, it’s more a matter of public health: my skin is so deathly pale that if I were to visually affront a roomful of people with all that whiteness, someone could go blind. My skill for discreet changing can be attributed to years of changing for gym class at a Catholic school where we awkward pubescent girls perfected the art of changing our clothes without ever baring skin below the neck and above the knees. To this day, I can take a polo shirt off through the neck of my t-shirt in 4.5 seconds. I don’t know why we were all wracked with such guilt and self-consciousness about our bodies. I do know that we each ate a soft pretzel and bottle of water every day for lunch for several years.)
Anyway… my routine in the locker room is as such: I place my towel right outside the shower, climb inside the shower and peel off my sweat-stained garb and very carefully place the dripping garments outside the shower. I shower quickly and very carefully retrieve my towel from its spot. Then I scurry across to my things and hastily pull on sweatpants under my towel and a sweatshirt over my towel, and shove my many towels in the bag - all in under 15 seconds. Then I go to comb my hair, where I look straight forward in the mirror and pretend I do not notice the nudie-patooty next to me who is moisturizing her areolas. Really?
ANOTHER THING: Ladies, if you had to choose ONE garment to wear, would you opt to cover the ta-tas or the hoo-ha? I would choose hoo-ha, because that seems more… sanitary. Not so, for one yogini. This lady stands doing her makeup at the sink in only a T-shirt. Frankly, I just don’t understand this choice, because this isn’t strip poker, for crying out loud, so she didn’t have to choose just one garment. I don’t understand why you would put a shirt on and just stop there - is it laziness? I actually think this choice is more strange than my full-frontal friend’s, whose attitude is very, “I’m too sexy for my clothes/I don’t think you can handle this.” I feel a strong inclination to interrogate the T-shirt lady about this decision, but I do not think I could handle a conversation with somebody who is not wearing panties.