On Labor Day, Yoga studios around Austin sponsored “A Free Day of Yoga“. I used that opportunity to try Bikram Yoga. Many people that I had talked to about Bikram Yoga loved it, for various reasons, but mainly because it was a really good workout for a yoga class. Bikram yoga is held in a room at 105 degrees & 40% humidity, and consists of the same 26 postures performed 2 times, in the same order, for the same duration each class.
I was expecting it to be hot. I was expecting it to be difficult. I was expecting not to like it. I was not expecting to leave class. I was not expecting to be the best one in the class. I was expecting to be able to hold my own – and I think I did hold my own.
My initial thoughts were “I don’t think that my body is designed to do that” (and, oddly enough, “I could go for a burger” !?!?). There were just some flexibility poses that were extremely difficult to do. I do believe that everyone’s body is different from each others bodies – the way we process food, the way we move, how we process information… and much of that is genetic. Some people are just naturally more flexible than others – it’s the way we are built. I remembered a news story a few years ago that stated that orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in business due to hot yoga. Because the room is hot, students are able to move their joints beyond their normal range of motion, causing undue stress on their tendons & joints.
Although I am not a hyper-flexible person, I do recognize that I could get better & I didn’t think that I could make a sound judgment after just one class. So, I joined a local Bikram studio and am committed to doing it for a month. I saw definite improvement after my second class. I was able to get into the most of the positions better – even those positions that I thought that I wasn’t supposed to be able to get into. By the third class, it didn’t seem like the class lasted forever & in fact, it sped by pretty quickly. It really is a good workout too. I wore my heart-rate monitor, and with each class I burned at least 450 Calories.
One disadvantage to Bikram Yoga is that it is a time committment. Class lasts for 90 minutes. Add in commuting time & we’re up to 2 hours. Then, remember that the class is held in a 105 degree room & there’s no way you’re going anywhere without a shower and some food. So we’re up to 2.5 – 3 hours just for yoga. But, I do have to say that I feel really good afterwards; completely decompressed & stretched out. It feels pretty fantastic.
So, I’m in. 3-4 days a week. Let’s see if I re-join after the month is up.
oh, and I never had that burger (in case you were wondering…)
Footnote: As with any class that you take, the teacher/instructor/facilitator
makes the world of difference in your experience. I tried two different
yoga studios, and even though the class is the same 26 postures, done
in the same order, the two experiences were very different. The first
studio I went to just had a completely different vibe than the second;
most folks seemed to be very “into” their bodies. I’m pretty sure that
each of the teenage boy looking women in the class were on a
restrictive calorie diet – They seemed to be there more for the
prestige of Bikram rather than the experience. Whereas the vibe that I
received with the studio that I joined was so much more relaxed – the
class seemed more like yoga than a workout. Kudos to Rebecca.