Bikram Yoga SLO -- Stress Relief for Code Monkeys

As you sit in your cubicle pounding out the javascript... does there ever come a moment when you feel the physical tension rising?  Perhaps the boring manager "Rob" just put the hammer down on a deadline and you realize that your earlier estimate of "one hour" should have included the standard "plus or minus one year" clause.

There is a tightness around the neck and shoulders.  Your wrists stiffen up so your fingers hit comma instead of period even more often than usual and you curse the very invention of punctuation.  Your left calf is making noises about thinking of cramping up.  Some sort of stomach acid is fluxing or refluxing and all the while there is a low-level pounding at the back of your head that threatens to move forward into an earth-crushing migraine... The guy with the tattoos drops by to ask you a question and you nearly bite his head off -- for no reason at all.

You need a break!
You really need a month in the Bahamas, but we all know that's not in the cards (at least not this week).   I'm here to tell you that the next best thing is available to you, right there in your own neighborhood -- a 90-minute session of hot-room yoga.

You will enter the room as a twisted-up bundle of frayed high-voltage cables, a monkey-brain chatter of racing neurons obsessing about mouse-over popups and unoptimized indexes.  But then the entire world stops.  For an hour and a half, you will think of nothing except what the instructor is saying and whether you can "go the distance" in a certain posture or if you push yourself to a new level of control and focus.  When you've finished every posture, done the final breathing and barely avoided nodding off during final savasana, you will tumble out of the studio, a bowl of over-cooked spaghetti.  You'll probably be in your car driving home before you realize that you haven't had a single thought about programming in.... well, ages.

Not your mother's yoga.

What Bikram Yoga is not:
There is none of that namby-pamby touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo.   The instructor is not going to rattle on about inner peace or make you memorize a ridiculous mantra.  Oh, and don't imagine that you are going to lie there like a log and relax.  It's not that kind of yoga.

What it is:
90 minutes of suffering in a 104° room (the steam room or sauna at the gym is probably around 110°, so 104 is bearable, but not comfortable).   90 minutes of intense mental focus.  You will be thinking about what the instructor is saying and thinking about breathing and balance and about holding only these thoughts until the instructor says
Many of the postures are physically demanding -- your thighs might be screaming and your heart pounding when you finally hear that blessed sound.  You (and everyone else) will certainly be bathed in sweat for most of the class.  

Bikram Yoga is uniform and dependable.  Each class is the same 26 postures, each repeated twice.   You can take a class in San Luis Obispo, Pasadena, Las Vegas, St. Louis, or New York City and know exactly what to expect.   Yoga teachers tend to be "quirky" and there is some variation from studio to studio, but you can be certain to get a Bikram Yoga experience wherever you go.

I normally take two classes each week in the Los Angeles area, so last fall when I attended the Experts-Exchange Core conference, I decided to check out the Bikram studio in San Luis Obispo (SLO) and take a class between conference sessions.

The Bikram studio in SLO is quaint and charming.   The pretty yogini who greets you at the door is likely to be the owner and your instructor for the class.  The studio is upstairs in a house that is down an alley in the center of the block -- between Higuera and Dana (near the cross street, Nipomo).  As expected, the heated yoga room is well-lighted with mirrors on three walls.  But in this studio, the back wall is all windows looking out to a calming view of green leafy tree tops.  The ceiling slopes, so if you are tall, avoid the very back row.

I took a 4:30pm class.  I generally prefer that time slot for the simple reason that it forces me to cap my day early.   Lots of people take a morning class and a noon class is also popular with working folks who want to break up the day and be able to face grueling afternoon progress meetings.

The room soon filled up with a surprising variety of people.  In a class of 21, we had five guys -- a typical M/F ratio.  There was a young couple who placed their mats next to each other and chatted softly before the class began.   Next to me was a guy who clearly spends a lot of time working out with weights ("I thought I was tough, but this class kicks my ass!" he told me, grinning).   There were a couple of middle-aged housewives, and...

The rest of the students were what you are probably thinking when you think of a yoga class -- healthy, good-looking women in their twenties.  If you are a code monkey, think of that girl at the front desk that has such a very nice sweater.  Now imagine that she is wearing her underwear... on the outside.  Now imagine that she is soaking wet.

In that environment, there is basically no chance that anything about your evil manager "Rob" or that blasted logon script will enter your mind during the class.   By the end of 90 minutes, you'll be somewhat dazed and confused -- you might need to be reminded what the Internet is.

Bikram Yoga San Luis Obispo
570 Higuera Street #195
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Bikram's Yoga College of India®
Find a class in your local area:

Code Monkey (music video, not entirely "office safe")
Jonathan Coulton 73TT.jpg IMG-2630L.jpg LesliChristiansen07.jpg
If you liked this article and want to see more from this author,  please click the Yes button near the:
      Was this article helpful?
label that is just below and to the right of this text.   Thanks!

Comments (2)

tigermattStaff Platform Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011

Great Article Dan! I like it, and have just clicked the 'Yes' button!


Nice article.  Got my vote above.

Have a question about something in this article? You can receive help directly from the article author. Sign up for a free trial to get started.