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I feel like something’s missing from my at home yoga experience. I feel like I’m copping out on the communal woo woo piece, so I’ve been exploring some of the studios in my area on weekends just to mix things up a bit.
That’s how I ended up at a Bikram class.
Bikram is a process of 26 poses, each performed twice in a stinking hot room. The first 45 minutes are standing poses and the last 45 minutes are a series of seated poses with a savasana sprinkled in between each one.
I don’t love it.
I was told if I didn’t want to cook myself to death, I should stick to the parameter of the room as the cool air creeps in under the doorways. Unfortunately, the regulars are onto this trick and all those spaces where gone. So I ended up in the center of the room/inferno beside a 60 something-year-old woman who had about 4% body fat. I mean, she was ripped like I haven’t seen before. Veins popping out everywhere and shoulders that put most figure competitors to shame (and yes, I said 60 something). Anyway, every time the instructor would try to turn the heat down to keep from having people pass out, this lady would complain that she was COLD.
I thought to myself in the moment as the instructor turned the heat back up for her that if there was ever a person on this earth that I wanted to force feed cheese burgers until they choked, it was this lady.
Not very namaste of me, I know.
Back to Bikram…
Some of the uniqueness of this practice is that you are always going to get the same class. The poses don’t change. There’s also no ephemeral woo-woo speak. The instructors are typically very straightforward in moving you through the poses, so it’s unlikely you’re going to leave feeling mentally massaged like you might in other forms of yoga.
That said, at least you know you’re never going to get a chill in class or get caught off guard by some crazy hard pose that you’ve never before seen or have no interest in trying. It’s great for people who don’t like change or cold places.
Overall I think there’s some merit to practicing in a hot room, as long as you’re not terribly sensitive to being lightly steamed when you workout. The increased heat absolutely improves flexibility, allowing practitioners to go deeper into poses which can be great, or put you in the hospital depending on the day.
I think I’ll stick with straight up vinyasa where I can still be surprised and delighted by the uniqueness of each class while getting a good workout in.
Have you tried Bikram? If not, what’s your favorite flavor of yoga?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.