12.15.2014

Bahrain Hypnopompic

Shaika Spot admiring Kali


Sami Bey also likes to hang out by the Kali alter












So... I've (re)discovered Bikram Yoga... By 're-discovering', I mean that I took one class probably 10 years ago back home on Maui.  I'm an Ashtanga Girl so I can't say that I enjoyed Bikram enough to go back at that time.  It was just something I hadn't done before so wanted to try it out.  As a yogini, I think one of the basic tenets of being a 'discipline' is to remain flexible- in anything.  It's not just about your body transformation.  It's more about your mind actually.  

 I had many questions at the time.  At that time Bikram Yoga was just starting to see some action within the yoga junkie crowd on Maui. It was soon to become pretty firmly entrenched into accepted yoga society, but still remained a mystery to us Vinyasa Flow faithfuls. I wondered about the first movement of the series- the standing tall, clasping your hands and placing your knuckles under your chin while breathing in and lifting elbows while chin was down, and then exhaling and bringing elbows down down to chest level again and repeating.  I thought it looked silly (still do) but more than that, I was trying to figure out the health benefit.  How did the arms thing help you to oxygenate your lungs further- or was that even the point?  I wondered why there were no inversions in the series. I also remember the intense heat (who can forget)... Bikram yoga uses heaters to heat the room to 40ºC/104ºF with about a 40% humidity.  This speedball of crazy consititues Bikrim Wonderland... This is optimal because the heat is:

  • Keeping the body from overheating (contrary to popular misconception)
  • Protecting the muscles to allow for deeper stretching
  • Detoxing the body (open pores to let toxins out)
  • Thinning the blood to clear the circulatory system
  • Increasing heart rate for better cardiovascular workout
  • Improving strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization
  • Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure

So, I came. I saw. I experienced. I left.  I never returned- until now. Fast-forward to a decade later.  One day Angie-baby and I are driving around, as we always do for 'sport.' We were driving through al Hamala and we both noticed a building with a sign, "Pure Yoga".  Yes we stopped that car's forward movement, backed up and went through a trying process of navigating Bahrain's roads where one can't easily back-track without going through a series of hoops.  We made it and walked into the studio.  Much to Angie-baby's delight, the words "Bikram Yoga" flowed out of the chicks mouth that was working.  I was analyzing those words more carefully... 

The studio was nice, clean and I knew from experience how involved Bikram was.  Thinking back to that one experience, and comparing it to the yoga experience I've been having here in Bahrain (more like a series of stretches with no rhythm or flow), I decided to also hop on the Bikram Bandwagon... The next morning I was in my first Bikram Yoga class in ten years at 11am.  It was pure hell.  I made it though and felt grateful afterwards. Two days later I went back for more and had a great class. Last night was my third night and Angie-baby joined in. It was my evening class.  I must say that I am more of a morning yoga girl.  For one thing, I hadn't eaten a single meal that day.  Earlier, at the university, I ate a few stalks of coveted celery (actually, celery is everywhere here, unlike Turkey, but it is still expensive) with some peanut butter.  I had a few squares of dark chocolate leftover from my birthday. I had a stick of Seitan.  I got home at 2:30pm and thought about eating, but remembered class was in 3 hours so halas, I ate nothing.

In retrospect this was not wise, but certainly was the wisest choice to make at the time.  I struggled through class.  It was so hot and humid, but I made it and, again, felt fantastic afterwards.  We celebrated by heading to al Abraj in Wakif area for dinner!  Man did it feel good to sit there while my body was steaming. It was a particularly satisfying meal indeed!

As we left and got back on Ali al Ahd Highway, we realized that Bahrain's National Day celebrations had already begun.  How delightful it was to cruise 'the strip'.  Cars were jam-packed all decked out in red and while with the Bahrain flags flowing out of all cars.  Children were hoisted up out of the sunroofs and smiling and waving (very dangerous, but people seem indifferent to it here and do it on a regular basis actually). Men were dressed up in their national costumes and everybody was animated.  Cars were still driving crazy.  Most cars had pictures of the king somewhere on them- like some kind of temporary sticker that adheres to windows.  Many even had these regal scenes on their front windshield.  I couldn't figure out how they could see when driving... 

Bahrain's young men were flowing outside their cars.  They had squirt guns, some sort of spray snow and all cars were communicating with each other.  Many had Anonymous masks on- which I found incredibly interesting... for many reasons while I won't go into here, now. Many were looking at us and trying to talk to us, "Hello.  How are you? What is your name?"  So, the environment was festive and it was so interesting, this nationalistic display here in my tiny host island nation.

Bahrain during National Day celebrations is totally decked out.  Red and white lights are strung EVERYWHERE.  They are on the trees, bushes, overpasses, etc.  Elaborate decorations are put up EVERYWHERE as well.  I mean, you can see Bahrain from space during National Day celebrations I would think. I believe that cars simply 'cruise' the main drags all around the island. December 16th (National Day) Highway happens to be near to where I live. Cars from all around the island likely travel here to drive on this iconic strip?  Who knows. All I know is that the highway was littered with cars full of merryment. We all had one mission.  To reach Riffa Roundabout Clocktower.  This is 'the strip' headquarters.  As we neared the roundabout traffic was at a standstill.  Many groups of cars were not singing, etc. At this point it had already taken us one hour to travel maybe 4 kilometers. Our friend, Mademoiselle S, called us to see what we were doing.  She was right behind us with her sisters doing the same thing we were!  

Once we got to the roundabout, we realized that the police were there and had shut down our exit to go home.  So, we went past and headed into East Riffa to take another route- along with everybody else.  When we finally got back on track to take our exit off of Sheikh Salman Highway, I asked, "Do you want to do it again?" It was just a joke as we were both talking about how exhausted we were from yoga class and eating.  We were both so excited to get to our homes and just sleep peacefully.  It was after 11pm at this point.  It took us 1.5 hours to get back from Hamad Town Roundabout 0- where the festivities began. We both looked at each other and decided that we would check it out since we knew that if traffic was congested up ahead, we had an ace in the hole- our shortcut to work every morning when traffic was piled up going towards Riffa Clocktower Roundabout.  As we neared our shortcut we saw the traffic in a holding pattern.  We opted to take the shortcut.  Enough was enough.  We followed a bunch of cars with their flags waving to try to find a route to our apartments and successfully managed to find a direct route!

Shaika Spot and Sami Bey were pretty happy to see me and were jumping all about.  I dropped into bed and immediately got out my computer to check what was going on across island on Twitter.  Of course, not all the population is excited about National Day, so there were also some demonstrations in the villages. It was now 2am and I was exhausted, which brings me to the original purpose of this post...

I woke up this morning at 9am fresh from a vivid, bizarre, hypnopompic dream... I've been dreaming a lot (or at least remembering my dreams) since I started doing Bikram Yoga.  Perhaps it's because I'm exhausting myself so sleeping soundly?  I don't really know.  I am having incredible dreams though. I had a bike and was biking on a road that seemed familiar from my childhood in SoCal. Suddenly I was biking on water (a recent flooded road?) I realized I was biking on water and this seemed so incredible to me.  I kept on biking.  I somehow managed to find a small dock where some boats were turned over on it.  I took refuge on one of these.  Suddenly one of the boats was pushed into the water, and then the one next to me.  Next thing I knew, I was in the water on my bike.  But I was sinking this time.  I wasn't scared.  A (row) boat captain saved me- I think.  Now I'm at this row boat captain's little A-frame house in the charming woods.  I like him.  There is a 'Mad-Hatteresque' type of dinner party happening. I am involved! I decide to sneak away when I'd had enough (as I'm prone to do).

The End.