Bikram Yoga is a set of 26 yoga poses that are completed in a studio where the temperature is between 95-105 degrees and set at about 40% humidity. Bikram yoga can be used for weight loss, physical therapy or meditation.
My sister really enjoys seeking new ways to improve herself spiritually and physically. She always has some good experiences, so I trusted her when she invited me to join her for Bikram Yoga one day. I have never been to a regular yoga course since I enjoy more high energy aerobic-like classes, but decided I’d try this one out since it’s supposed to be quite intense and good for your body.Here is an account of my experience with Bikram Yoga.
What is Bikram Yoga? This was my first question. I was familiar with regular yoga, but I had not heard of Bikram Yoga until the phrase “hot yoga” was mentioned. Hot Yoga?!! I wasn’t too thrilled about this, especially since I live in Arizona where it’s pretty much hot all the time. I was a bit leery but I’m always up for new experiences, so I tried it out. Besides, the yoga studio was offering a newcomer trial discount of $29—I could go as many times I as I wanted in a two week period. I thought that was a pretty good deal so I paid my fee and entered the room.
What do I bring with me? My sister had already been to several sessions, so she made sure I brought a yoga mat, a towel and some water. These are definitely must-have items. I would advise that you bring more water than you even think you would drink. By the end of class I was wishing I brought more than my regular-sized water bottle.
What do I wear? I knew it would be hot, but I wasn’t too sure how I should dress. When I asked my sister and when I heard her answer, I didn’t believe her. She had told me that I should wear the least amount of clothing! She said that I would be comfortable in a sports bra, a tank top and some shorts that fit snug, but that some people wear less (especially the guys).
I saw that this was true as soon as I walked in to the room. My sister and I got there within seconds of the yoga session starting, so we stood in the back but we could see everyone in the mirror-covered wall. As I laid my yoga mat down, then my towel on top of the mat, I looked at the guy right in front of me and he had boxer brief-like shorts and that’s it. There were several other men wearing similar shorts, including our instructor. As for the women, many were dressed as I was, but there were also many women who were only wearing their sports bra and snug shorts (and these weren’t even tiny women). The room was filled with all shapes and sizes and it didn’t matter how big or small you were, everyone wore the least amount of clothing that they could get away with.
What should I expect? The Bikram yoga class was 90 minutes long and it’s hot, but if you can mentally stick it out, then you’ll be fine. Since I didn’t know what exactly to expect, my first class seemed a bit long and the heat was really getting unbearable. Our instructor told the class at the beginning that at any time if we needed to rest that we could, but since I like a challenge I was determined to stick with it no matter what and I didn’t want to be the new person who just sat down and couldn’t hack it.
Like I said, it really is a mental test not a physical test; at least the first time I did it. It’s kind of hard to explain, but because it’s so hot you really can’t focus on anything but yourself, which is actually the best feeling ever afterwards (more on this later).
The studio was hot and felt wet (because of the heat). It’s kind of like a sauna without the steam. We started with this weird breathing thing where you breathe in and breathe out several times and then went straight into the poses. We didn’t have a water break until 25 minutes into the yoga session. The beginning poses are standing and the ending poses are on the floor (this is why you need a mat and a towel). Most of the poses were manageable and there were a few where I definitely needed to have more balance and practice.
Will I see or feel any benefits? Now, I only went to several sessions during my two-week trial, so I can’t say that I noticed any benefits right away. What I can attest to is how I felt after each of my several sessions. Once the Bikram yoga session was finished and I stepped outside, I felt like air was going through my body. I felt cleansed and light on my feet, like I was walking on clouds. I didn’t have any worries and my mind just felt clear and happy.
I realized that I felt this way because during the 90 minutes, I wasn’t thinking those random thoughts that pop into my head constantly. I wasn’t thinking about my surroundings because I was so focused on getting through the poses, breathing, and surviving the heat. I was just focusing on myself during those 90 minutes. I wasn’t thinking about the bills that had to get paid, or what I needed to do when I got home or back to work the next day. It was just me and those yoga poses for an hour and a half.
Unfortunately, I did not continue my Bikram Yoga experience since I did not have the extra spending money (it can be a bit expensive), but my sister continued for several months. She enjoyed it a lot and I noticed that she had lost weight and her body was really toned and in shape. If I ever get my finances together, I would definitely consider signing up for a package deal.