Sweating profusely for 90 minutes never felt so good! Bikram, an intense form of advanced yoga, works every muscle of your body from different angles. I make a disciplined effort to hit the heated studio once a week as part of my routine workout schedule. I usually attend the evening sessions that way the benefits start to kick in just before bedtime, and in case I hit the gym earlier in the day it allows my muscles to recover in time for bikram class. Afterwards, I sleep like a baby all night.
I started bikram about 3 years ago when a friend told me I should give it a shot. He warned me of its intensity and that it was not for beginners, so I saw a challenge ahead of me. I was no stranger to yoga before starting Bikram, but I had never dedicated weekly classes to it. Needless to say, my first bikram class was not the most successful.
Bikram, sometimes called hot yoga, is derived from traditional yoga poses. The class runs 90 minutes and incorporates a series of 26 postures (asanas) as well as two breathing exercises at the beginning and end of class. The hot box is usually heated to about 105°F and about 40% humidity, depending on the studio’s conditions. The heat is intended to facilitate deeper stretching, prevent injuries and relieve stress and tension.
At first, I experienced nausea and light-headedness, but the instructors usually warn that this is quite normal for entry-level students of the practice. Once your body adjusts to the heat and you allow your mind to meditate, you begin to focus your energy in breathing and remaining still. I’ve practiced yoga with a variety of teachers, but the most common lesson I learn is to just breath. Long, deep inhalation through the nose and slow exhalation out through the mouth. When it feels like you want to pass out, the instructor encourages you to remain in the room but to simply lie down and breath. The hardest part about bikram is remaining still. Yoga after all is a meditative and therapeutic activity. However, drink plenty of water before and after because your body will likely be dehydrated from the session.
We spend our days constantly putting stress on our bodies in some form or another, from working out at the gym to slouching at a desk. While the bikram postures are challenging and effective, the short timeframes you spend resting are just as important, for you may feel the urge to wipe sweat, take a drink of water, or just naturaly fidgit to find comfort. Fight them! To receive the full benefits Bikram has to offer, you must follow the discipline of meditation and resist the temptations to find comfort in a room that’s not very comfortable. Challenge yourself and you’ll be thankful for it later as you sleep peacefully through the night.
Bikram continues to be part of my weekly routine, for it flushes out toxins and maximizes the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Feel free to respond to this post with any questions or concerns you may have and I’ll do my best to provide advice from my own personal experiences.