Photo by The Hamster Factor
I took my first Bikram yoga class yesterday after purchasing a LivingSocial coupon for 10 classes for $20 a few weeks ago. Most yoga classes around here seem to run around $15 per class – unless you’re willing to commit to more – so $2/class was a crazy good deal and a good opportunity to try something new.
The first thing you should know about Bikram is that it is done in a hot room. Like, really hot. Like, the sort of hot that is unthinkable when the mercury’s barely nudged above 30 for months on end. 105 degrees, to be precise. At 105 degrees, you start sweating just lying flat on the ground. In this extremely hot room, you’re led through a series of 26 postures – asanas – that build strength and increase circulation, in theory invigorating every part of your body in the process. And you sweat. And then you sweat some more. And then, when you don’t think you possibly can sweat any more at all ever, you produce more sweat. I finished my class around noon, and was still drenched in sweat an hour later.
I have primarily taken vinyasa classes, so there were some aspects of Bikram that I found odd or difficult. There was less emphasis on becoming grounded in a pose as a means of providing balance – something I have really appreciated about both vinyasa and hatha classes previously. I felt like the class and the postures were more focused on flexibility than building strength, but that may have been because I’m used to moving between poses, rather than getting into a pose, then immediately flipping around and taking a break. I certainly experienced a deeper flexibility than I recalled from previous classes, possibly as a result of the heat, possibly because of all of the other exercise I’ve been doing in the last month.
I have 9 classes left on my card, and 3 months to use them, so I’ll definitely report back on my future experiences. Oh, and one other thing: don’t eat bacon before Bikram. I felt like I was sweating out bacon aromas which, while not unpleasant, was pretty weird.