According to Dictionary.com, Bikram Yoga is “a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a very hot room.”
It’s the “very hot room” part that has most people talking. 105 degrees to be exact. When you first walk into a room heated up to 105 degrees, it’s like getting punched in the gut. You’re not quite sure what happened but you know you didn’t like it.
As a yoga teacher, I am asked all the time about different types of yoga – Bikram especially. So finally, with Groupon in hand, I went to my first ever Bikram Yoga class. Can’t hurt, right? (Famous last words?)
I approached Bikram with a lot of trepidation. I swim in sweat at room temperature so I was not looking forward to sweating more. Or worse yet, having someone else’s sweat splatter on me. And, of course, I was completely unprepared for my first class despite how many times I googled “how to survive Bikram” prior to going.
My first class was not a complete disaster but I was mentally unprepared for how difficult it was going to be. Suffice it to say, I didn’t quite make the 90 minutes. At 60 minutes I had to make the awful decision between walking out with tail between my legs or vomiting in the room. I opted for the walk of shame.
Other people would not willingly return after such a defeat but not me. I couldn’t stand the thought of failing at something yoga-related. So I came back… not just once but TWICE! (My belief is that you need to try something at least 3 times before you can have a respectable opinion on it. Belief excludes illegal and dangerous activities.)
I was better prepared the next time. My husband thought I was crazy as I packed my gear to try again especially when I ranted and raved after the first class. I looked like I was going into battle. I packed my water bottle with ice, wore shorts instead of pants, I brought a watch so I’d know how much time was left and I firmly planted myself by the door in the hopes of catching any breeze. Sure enough, it went much better and I made it through the 90 minutes with a smile on my face.
So the big question is: Will I be back? The answer is a firm NO.
I don’t want to offend Bikram lovers but it simply wasn’t for me. It was complete torture. When I tell people this, they always inadvertently imply that I didn’t have the mental stamina to practice Bikram. Some have demanded that I keep going until I learn to love it. But the truth is I spent all of my time at Bikram focused on making it through the movements and cursing the incredible heat. I wasn’t focused on my body and how it was feeling. I wasn’t thinking about how good it was for me. I didn’t feel glorious and open. I didn’t feel good. And I hated having to lock my knees! Sure, I felt tremendous pride in making it through but I didn’t like where my mind was while I was practicing.
So do I recommend that people try it? Hell yes! I admire the folks who practice Bikram and you should definitely have your own opinion on it. Don’t just take my word for it. But as for me? I will be keeping my distance.
What are your thoughts on Bikram or hot yoga?