It’s 40 degrees. Time Out is wearing Lycra and we have our head between our legs. We’ve just been scolded for glugging half a litre of Masafi (apparently you need to pace yourself) and we’re sporting an under-mullet sweat that would rival Rod Stewart post gig. This is not what we signed up for. It’s the weekend and all we want to do is curl up under our goose down duvet and praise the lord for AC.
But Bikram yoga it is, and along with another 10 punters (‘This is our job, the rest of you are insane,’ we mumble through torrents of sweat) we’re inside Club Stretch. Yes, inside – it’s 40° outside, but some guy called Bikram Choudhury– a self proclaimed ‘Yogi to the stars’ – has decided that his much coveted technique, which is apparently adored by Gwyneth Paltrow (‘Whoopee doo,’ we gush), requires steambath climes. Surely the beach would do? Nope, you need a mirror to correct your bumbling moves and, as becomes increasingly obvious, a certain level of privacy. We already dislike him and we haven’t even reached the first of his 26 asanas (yoga speak for moves).
Grumbling like a Flashdance reject, we reluctantly stare ahead at the mirror, wondering if Lycra was the best choice of garb for this sweat-fest and if the perfectly toned Jean-Claude Van Damme lookalike – the class is open to both sexes – to our right is quietly judging our McDonald’s-induced paunch. But any wandering thoughts are interrupted by Rowena, our giddily enthusiastic instructor who kick-starts the session with a few breathing exercises, otherwise known as Pranayama. So far, so good, we reassure ourselves, praying that the other 25 moves involve eating, sleeping and a dose of Prison Break series three.
But the Bhujangasana soon proves otherwise, as Rowena painstakingly moulds us into the shape of a cobra. As we grunt and groan into position, watching a ghastly pool of sweat collect on our yoga mat, we are told to hold it for approximately 60 seconds. ‘Sixty seconds? That’s nothing,’ we hear you cry. Trust us, when you’re spreadeagled on a yoga mat, attempting to channel your inner reptile, it’s a long time. It does, however, give Time Out a moment to ponder the last time our abdominal muscles had been accessed. We trace it back to 1985 when a snotty nosed peer had challenged us to eat a Wham! bar upside down on a swing. Needless to say, it ended in tears.
But there’s no time for idle thoughts in Bikram yoga: mere minutes (and a full six asanas) after Bhujangasana is done and dusted, the Sasangasana has you stretching your limbs into the silhouette of a bunny. It sounds cute, but Time Out’s brief glance into the mirror – which you’re supposed to do to ensure you’re aligned – confirmed otherwise. There was nothing endearing about seeing our thighs squashed into the aforementioned pool of sweat. Even a pair of bunny ears couldn’t convince Rowena.
Possibly the most difficult moment of our 90-minute session, however, was keeping a straight face as the group wrapped things up with the Khapalbhati breathing, which involves blowing any excess air out of your body in the manner of a living bellows. One person alone ‘ooohing’ away raised a giggle, but the entire contingent in unison had us gurgling into our sweat-drenched Lycra.
That said, we were fairly surprised, as we bounded out into the sunshine, that our sun battered, McDonald’s polluted, press day-ridden body did feel in pretty good nick. We’d go as far to say, Bikram yoga had us warming to Gwyneth Paltrow and believing that Bikram Choudhury might, in fact, be a very nice man.
Bikram yoga, Dhs70 for 90 minutes at Club Stretch (04 345 2131).