Rinroad the travelling yogi

Did I ever tell you about the time I walked 15km to go swimming? It’s a story almost completely unrelated to the topic of this post but, as it demonstrates the lengths I’m willing to go to do an exercise I’ll enjoy, I’m still going to tell it!

Mr Rinroad and I were holidaying in Vancouver, Canada, and had spent most of the trip taking in the views from the seawall on foot. If you’ve never been to Vancouver I’d highly recommend it. The seawall stretches 22km along the city’s waterfront, with beautiful beach views in the foreground and stunning snow-capped mountains in the background. Partway round you can even take a detour onto one of the walking trails inside peaceful Stanley Park – there’s a 9km stretch of the seawall that loops right around it.

Anyway, there we were on our fourth or fifth day of walking around the city and I decided that I wanted to go swimming. But I didn’t just want to go swimming in any old water. I wanted to go swimming in the 137-metre long saltwater pool that sits alongside one of Vancouver’s top-recommended beaches, with mountain views in the distance to top off the experience. And that pool (Kitsilano Pool, if you’re thinking of retracing my footsteps!) was approximately 15km away from where we were staying.

Luckily, Mr Rinroad likes to walk. So off we trekked to Kitsilano on legs which were already pretty tired from our last few days of sightseeing and, 15km later, we reached the pool. It was then that I realised I would have to swim. And by ‘swim’ I don’t mean floating around in a state of saltwater-induced relaxation, I mean I actually had to swim – in a single lane – with serious swimmers – who were all doing front crawl. Just read my post on Rinroad’s swimterval training and you’ll understand why that was a problem for me. I don’t do front crawl, I do breaststroke – and I definitely need a slow lane!

But I did it, I swam as fast as my legs would splash for a whole 30 minutes and then, when I’d finished, Mr Rinroad and I walked all the way back to our hotel. Wow I was tired that evening, but at least I accomplished what I’d set out to do (and lived to blog the tale!).

So, now that you have an idea of just how far I’m willing to travel to exercise my mood, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that last week I rolled up my yoga mat and travelled for an hour on a train to a neighbouring county just to try Bikram Yoga.

A friend of mine’s been doing Bikram for a while and, already a Hot Yoga convert, I wanted to give it a go too. Having heard a lot about it, I already knew there were a few key differences between Bikram and Hot Yoga:

  1. The temperature. Practised at around 105°F, Bikram Yoga makes the hottest Hot Yoga class I’ve ever practised sound cool – the temperature in Hot Yoga rarely gets much higher than the mid 80s!
  2. The pace. Bikram Yoga flows more quickly than Hot Yoga, not least because there are more postures per class and each one is held for a maximum of around 20 seconds versus 30 seconds in Hot Yoga.

My friend and I arrived at the studio early to get a good spot and, as I lay down on my yoga mat, I remember thinking that the heat wasn’t actually that bad. I was sweating a bit already but that was to be expected – I mean, it’s Bikram Yoga after all!

And then the heaters came on.

In the 90 minutes that followed, I must have sweat off half my body weight. The heat was just ridiculous. But the experience did lead to the breakdown of a few (self-invented!) Bikram Yoga myths:

  1. Just because you don’t hold the postures for as long as you do in Hot Yoga doesn’t mean you won’t tire out more quickly.
  2. Just because you’re flexible in your familiar Hot Yoga postures doesn’t mean it won’t feel like your body has only just heard of ‘stretching’ in any position that’s new.
  3. Just because the room is hotter than you’re used to doesn’t mean you’ll automatically become more flexible (stupid tree pose – I thought for sure I’d manage to do this in Bikram!)
  4. Just because you lie down in shavasana more often than you do in Hot Yoga doesn’t mean you’ll have time to dose off!
  5. Just because you’ve invested in a proper Hot Yoga towel doesn’t mean it will be of any use whatsoever in a Bikram class (seriously, it’s just way too hot!)
  6. Just because it’s a cool Autumn evening when you step out of the studio doesn’t mean you’ll stop sweating until at least half an hour later!

There was one thing that really surprised me about Bikram Yoga though. Despite the heat and the fact that my heart quite literally felt like it was beating out of my chest, I spent the class feeling pretty relaxed. And if that’s not a state-of-being worth travelling to exercise for, then I don’t know what is!

Are you a travelling yogi? What’s the furthest you’ve ever travelled to exercise your mood? Let me know in the comments below or via @Rinroad on Twitter.

Posted in: Rinroad fitness