If you have been reading my blog for a bit, you will know I made some pretty bold declarations at the start of the year when I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager and ready to take on the year.
Since then I have calmed down somewhat and scaled back my goals to more quieter, achievable ones.
The biggest one that I have been putting off (besides doing Body for Life – another story!) is getting back into yoga.
I had dreams of doing it at least once a week and it was a Saturday morning class that appealed to me the most. But you know, life got in the way.
That – and holidays
However, I KNOW I need this in my life.
Not for the flexibility, the weight loss, the exercising.
But for the time I get to spend on ME and me alone.
One hour to reflect and really get to know my body.
So when my local Lululemon store announced the opening of a new Bikram Yoga studio in my area, I was stoked.
Here was a chance to get back into yoga and do it consistently.
Now here’s the thing – I’ve never done Bikram yoga before.
In fact, I spent a few years when I first heard about it calling it “Vikram” yoga and smugly saying it was named after some guy called Vikram in India. When I first told my parents I was doing this, they also kept calling it “Vikram” yoga and hence I see how they would have aided in this little misconception.
What is Bikram yoga?
“Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques and popularized beginning in the early 1970s. Bikram’s classes run exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.”
Good old Wikipedia.
Bikram is typically practised in a heated room (approx 40C) and is apparently the most popular of the hot yoga types.
I had heard that this was a really ‘strict’ type of yoga where you HAD to listen to the teacher and you weren’t allowed to leave the room, except in case of emergency. You HAD to drink something like a tank full of water beforehand (which for someone like me with a tiny bladder is really a form of torture!) and not eat anything at least 2 hours before class.
I broke about two of those rules and nearly the third.
I went on Sunday afternoon and again this evening, when it was pouring down with rain and the thought of a heated room was the most appealing. After finally cashing in my birthday gift card to Lululemon over the weekend, it was perfect opportunity to try out my new yoga mat.
Despite Evs saying I looked like a walking ad for Lululemon, I headed over to Bikram Yoga in Doncaster.
The class was full with surprisingly a few guys there. I made a mental note to see if I could convince Evs to come with me, but then remembered that he sweats excessively just in normal temperatures. Here, he would melt.
So after a few classes (and I’m totally an expert now ), here’s what you should know about Bikram:
- It’s fucking hot. No brainer, but seriously – it messes with you big time. Especially if it is filled with people which can make it feel even hotter. I’d really recommend getting there at least 15 minutes early to the class and just sitting or lying in the room to acclimate yourself.
- So HYDRATE. Yes, I know this one of their ‘rules’, but really it’s important. You don’t need to drink so much in class (little sips), but before and after – do it. Coconut water is best for hydration and it replaces those all important electrolytes that you need replacing.
- Also, yeah don’t eat before class. Otherwise that gourmet hot dog you wolfed down will sit uncomfortably in your stomach and prompt the instructor to look at you pointedly when asking if anyone is pregnant. No lady, it’s just a food baby. You will also feel nauseous afterwards and really start to think you’re pregnant.
- It’s time to get nekkid. I don’t think I’ve ever worn such short shorts in my life. In PUBLIC I mean. The thing is – it’s ok. Sure, getting a glimpse of your sweaty thighs might be a little X-rated, but hey, you’re meant to be FOCUSING.
- Speaking of which, you may also get close and personal with other people’s…err..personals. It’s ok…there’s no judgement in the room. Just don’t look in the mirror and you won’t see it reflected back at you.
- Don’t be afraid to sit down or even lie down when the poses get tough. It’s really difficult and I was so proud of myself to make it through my first class without dying or puking. If your heart is beating really fast, just breathe deeply and slowly to calm yourself.
- You will find that that your skin will be all soft and glowy. Seriously. After two classes, I haven’t been able to stop feeling myself after a shower. Evs walked in and was like WTF. Then he understood. Ohhh yeah. *wink*
- Take a towel and lie it on top of your mat. Don’t worry about what the Lululemon sales girls said about the mat absorbing sweat – you WILL need this. Also, apparently don’t wipe your face with the small towel you have brought. I was told this by an older Asian lady who had been doing Bikram for years who gave me some advice – “Don’t wipe your face as sweating releases the toxins. Also try and keep your knees together”.
- The time will fly by except for the last half hour. You will nearly faint in relief when you finish the standing poses (because you still suck at balancing) and get on the mat, but those last sets of poses will make you wonder why the clock seems to be stuck.
- You will be sore in muscles that you didn’t know you had. I struggled a little today because my arms and hamstrings were still smarting from the weekend. However, the benefits of doing it will last even after the class is done. That’s what I keep telling myself.
So after feeling like I was going to die and shooting daggers at the ever-so-slow clock, I made it through my first class and came out feeling refreshed.
And took this really horrible photo of myself because I needed proof in case I didn’t make it out of my next class.
As I think a lot of people will attest – it’s a love-hate relationship with Bikram and this pass is intriguing enough for me to see if I can stick with it. I still am partial to my Vinyasa flow, but am slowly learning to love this torturous, sweaty yoga.
Have you ever done hot yoga?