Bikram Yoga for the Win

After months of contemplating, I finally experienced my first Bikram yoga class yesterday. It was definitely a different experience and my body enjoyed all of the stretching!

For those of you who haven’t jumped on the Bikram band wagon yet (like me), let me give you a quick tutorial:

Bikram yoga is a 26-posture sequence that is performed in a 105-degree room. The heat is so high because a warm body helps with flexibility and it flushes out toxins. A class lasts 90 minutes and each posture can be held for 30 or 10 seconds each. You always repeat each posture twice.

The poses.

Source

When I first stepped into the room, I thought the heat would hit me worse than it actually did. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a 105-degree room, but it didn’t feel stifling hot. My body must have acclimated pretty quickly, I guess. I was sweating within minutes, but I didn’t ever feel dizzy or like I needed to escape. People had constantly warned me to “stay in the room” and “take it easy your first day,” so I thought this would be more of a problem than it actually was. Win number one!

I thought the postures would be more difficult for me than they actually were. Win number two! I am in no way a flexible human being. Ask me to do any type of deep stretch involving the hamstrings and I’m pretty much toast. I’m always super excited when I go to the doctor and am able to bring my hands under my feet without bending my knees. So it’s pretty safe to say that I went into this class expecting to fall out of multiple poses and not even accomplish some of them.

Not true, my friends! I was able to get into every pose, except for fixed firm pose. I didn’t hit the advanced pose each time, but I was able to get into the beginner steps for each one.  I tried fixed firm pose, but quickly decided not to push that because it hurt my knees way too much. My knees already have issues, so I’m not going to risk injuring them when I’m about to start training again.

I do not bend that way.

Source

My favorite postures (other than savasana, clearly) were eagle and triangle pose. Both of them felt really good and I just had fun maneuvering into those stretches. I was even complimented by the instructor for hitting the eagle pose on my first try. Win number three!

I quickly learned that you can’t have any hesitation when attempting a posture. If you doubt yourself, you most likely aren’t going to hold the pose. Just forget about looking silly (or gross because of all the sweat) because everyone else is doing the same thing, and go for it. You’re not going to be the only one who falls out of a pose and you might end up surprising yourself with how well you do! I know I was shocked at how successful I was with the standing bow pose. I have to work on bringing my leg up a little higher, but I held it for the full 30 seconds. Win number four!

I’m really glad that I went with a friend for my first time, too. I asked Victoria a ton of questions beforehand, just so I wasn’t going in blind, and found out exactly what I would need to bring to the class. When I go to regular yoga, I just bring my mat. For Bikram, there are other essentials you need. Here are a few tips I learned from my experience:

  • Wear as little clothing as possible. I had Under Armour shorts, a sports bra and a tank top. I took the tank top off about two minutes into the class.
  • Bring a beach towel to cover your mat. It’ll help you maintain stability.
  • Have another towel to wipe your face.
  • Hydrate a lot beforehand. A lot, a lot. Bring a bottle of water to class. Note: You’re not allowed to have a drink of water for the first 25 minutes of class, so you really want to be hydrated before you walk in. 

Overall, I’d say the class was a success. I pushed myself harder than I thought I could and felt like I got in a good workout. By no means am I a converted yogi – running will always have my heart – but I definitely understand the benefits of this routine. I’m going to do a little more research, and if my budget allows, I’m going to try to start going about once a week. After all, I like being a hot, sweaty mess at the end of a workout.

Look ma, no hair!

Have you tried Bikram yoga before? Did you like it or not? 

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Posted on July 17, 2011, in Exercise, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hehehehe I’m glad you like it! Its really great and great when you are training. Standing bow pose is my favorite pose and the easiest for me. You should look for a studio that offers a discount on certain days or student discounts or something to that effect to help it be more affordable. Like ours here in Binghamton does first friday for free each month and then the rest of the fridays are only $5 instead of $12. so its a pretty good deal. I was anxiously awaiting your review of the class! 🙂

  2. I haven’t tried Bikram yoga yet, but I really want to. I LOVE yoga (although I have fallen off in practice lately 😦 ), and I want to try this SO badly, but it’s not at my gym (which I get a work discount for), so I’m waiting on a deal from one of those city sites to come along for a month for $40 or something to try it. I hear it can get expensive. Everyone I know that has gone has really enjoyed it.

    • If you live in a bigger city its worth it to look at what kind of plans they have. Many have unlimited plans for like $100 per month, if you can make time to go several times per week, its so worth it. Its $10 per class where I love if your pre-pay in blocks of $100. but there is no great monthly rate plan. which sucks. 😦

      • It was definitely a lot of fun! I’m still stalking all of the city deal sites to see what I can score. Right now I’m not willing to cough over $100/month for it simply because my budget is too tight and I wouldn’t be going often enough to justify it. With my upcoming training plans, I’m going to be running five days a week and spinning once a week, so I’m going to try to do yoga once or twice a week to stretch me out. We’ll see what happens, but I definitely want to incorporate it into my routine!

    • You’re just like me — stalking those city sites! It can get pricey pretty quickly, so I’m waiting until I can get a good deal in my area. Groupon, Tippr and Living Social have all been switching up the deals they send me via email because they can tell I’m a fitness guru. I’ll post if I get something good!

      • That is fantastic. I am happy that I can fit it in my budget to go 5x per week. Its still a lot of money, but I love the class and most importantly the numerous benefits. Hot Yoga is to me like running is to you, I just have to do it and I love every agonizing minute of it. One of the instructors here, Matt, really changes things up. None of our Hot Yoga classes are the full 16 poses of Bikram Yoga, same concept but instead the classes combine a little pilates moves and some intense, rapid fire yoga for some serious cardio burn. I’m so in love. I may never leave Binghamton knowing that I cannot find class this fantastic. lol.

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