I've done yoga for awhile both at home and at the gym, but a friend from the gym bought a Groupon for Bikram Yoga and needed someone to go with her. So after some schedule checks and chatting, three of us headed over Saturday for our very first Bikram yoga class.
This is what I was told about Bikram before the class:
- Bikram is a form of yoga in a 90-110 degree room.
- You are going to sweat. A LOT!
- Bring a towel.
- Bring water and drink plenty of water beforehand.
- You will feel cleansed afterwards.
Here's my experience.
The class theme: "Ok, this is different."
We walked in and immediately felt the temperature change in the front lobby. We were greeted by the teacher, Brandon, and after filling out the general consent forms and such, he explained to us what to expect. In short, he told us that it's an amazing experience and that the main goal of the class is to stay in the room the entire 90 minutes. If I remember correctly, the room was 105 degrees with 37% humidity. You could tell from his way of explaining things that he really loved what he did and was excited to have students.
We took our stuff and went into the room. My GOD was there a change in temperature! We set our stuff down in the back and laid out our mats. We were a good 15 minutes early, so we laid down and simply let our bodies adjust to the temperature. I was surprised to find that I wasn't sweating profusely already. My body, I thought, was adjusting rather well.
I would like to point out that when we originally entered the room, there was the typical soft yoga music playing and only one light. When Brandon started the class, he turned all the lights on and the music off. Immediately, I thought "Ok, this is different." Not that being in a 105 degree room isn't different enough!
There were a good 30 people or so in the class. Brandon took us through a set of breathing exercises first and then some stretches. Remember how I thought my body had adjusted well to the heat? I learned quickly that it was only while remaining still. In the very first movement, I was already drenched. We went through the series of 26 positions for Bikram yoga and Brandon did very well to keep us attentive to how our bodies were positioned - bring your left hip forward, arch your back, reach up, reach, reach, reach! He did that, however, without singling anyone out; it was a general point made for the class the entire time.
The method of keeping us aware of our bodies was not what I expected. I'm used to the soft reminding of certain things. Brandon was loud. It sounded like we were at a yoga auction given the speed and decibel he was speaking at. Again... "Ok, this is different."
At one point very early in the class, I realized that my towel was quite inadequate. I had been told not to bring a small towel. I had presumed that meant not to bring a hand towel. I didn't that meant "bring a thick beach towel." During one of the moves, we had our face down on the mat and I realized I was in a puddle of sweat. I had brought my Gatorade towel which normally serves at my transition towel. Most other people had brought towels twice that size! When we left after the class, my position in the room was marked by a large wet spot on the rug. Brandon assured us that the room is well ventilated and cleaned and not to worry.
During our relaxation, Brandon handed out cool, lavender scented wash cloths to cool off with. "Ok, this is different." While I still went to take a cold shower afterwards, I quite enjoyed that additive to class.
The friend who bought the Groupon LOVED the class and will certainly be back again as it helped alleviate some tension she's had in her knee. I can't say I loved the class, but I am certainly glad I got to experience it. The use of the heat and humidity to aid your body in being more flexible is awesome. However, at this point, though I can't be use it's 100% free of an adversity to change, I wasn't as much a fan of Bikram. I would try it again with a different instructor in order to see what changes and what is simply the Bikram structure, but at this point, I prefer yoga to be more meditative and not auction-esque.
|Bikram survivors! ...and my evil face?|
1. Have you done yoga? Have you ever done Bikram yoga (hot yoga)?
I've done "normal" yoga at some local gyms and some videos, but this was my first experience with Bikram. During the season, I try to stick to one yoga class a week for way it helps my flexibility and range of motion.
2. Do you like to try new things? Would you try a new type of class, race, or food just because it's there and you can?
I admit I am a creature of habit, but I do enjoy knowing whether I like new things or not. Bikram, maybe not so much, but the next thing might be my new obsession.
Dream. Believe. Achieve.