05 July 2006
Really. The first time I went to a Bikram class I was stunned when the teacher walked in topless (No, I am not confusing my Bikram class with Hot Nude Yoga. Nor am I going to tag topless or nude, I can just imagine the hits)! Topless! And nobody in the class blinked. Certainly not the Yogini Waifs in their sport bra tops, and certainly not the other guys (all two) who were also topless - just like Brian, the instructor.
It seems to be the norm, custom, and accepted practice. Bikram himself always appears topless, surrounded by other topless guys. Reminds me of all those pictures of Saddam where EVERY single male in sight had a Saddam mustache...
Look, I thought I was comfortable with my body but at fifty things aren't quite what they were thirty years ago. Yes, that's me in the photo at the ripe age of twenty. Topless worked then.
Not that the other two guys in the class have six pack abs (Dreadlock Guy and Really Clearly Middle Aged Guy - hey, I'm deaf, it's hard to engage in social chit-chat; no idea what I'll say to these folks after my cochlear implant in August but I'll probably at least pick up on their names) . Its not that I have a beer belly - think of it more as an Amstel Light Love Tummy.
So I start to understand, on a fairly visceral level, the whole body image/media hype/ get lypo/ get botox/ get perfect and be happy/message that the magazines from Men's Health to, yes, Virginia, Yoga Journal, promote. It's a tad intimidating to be confronted with perfect abs, no matter who is sporting them.
But after months of wearing a black sleeveless running shirt and black yoga shorts to class (as if that would fool anyone), I finally decided go topless. I mean, who was I trying to impress? Everyone no doubt, but it was time to get it off my chest. So I did. And no one blinked, pointed or guffawed. Class carried on just as if I were fully clothed. Dammit.
The thing of it is, topless wasn't very comfortable from a practice standpoint. I'm slippery after ninety minutes in the oven, and some poses were actually easier when I had a shirt on. And the sweat didn't drip off so much and form Lake Huron for me to wade through.
So now I'm bucking the Bikram norm and have gone back to wearing that running shirt.
So do all these guys go topless because its more comfortable,
or because its the ?
Om Shanti ya'll!
PS - I am going to San Francisco tomorrow July 6 and am thrilled to be trying a new Bikram studio called Funky Door Yoga in Downtown SF, I'll let ya know what I think. With a name like that it had better be good!