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