I have very tight muscles due to an auto accident that I incurred a few years ago… My neck, shoulders and hips feel like boulders! After a massage therapist attempted to break them down (painfully), she “ordered” me to try Bikram Yoga (in addition to massage, of course)… Since I didn’t want to disappoint her… yesterday, I tried it out.
What is Bikram Yoga, you say? It is a form of active yoga… strenuous exercise. No posing or relaxation here. This yoga practice runs 90 minutes (yikes!) and consists of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. It is performed in a room heated to 105°F (double yikes!) with a humidity of 40%, and is the most popular form of hot yoga (a series of yoga poses done in a heated room). In theory, Bikram should promote deeper stretching and exercise, while reducing stress and tension.
It took me a month to walk into the studio. Frankly, I was scared to exercise in such a hot room for such a long period of time… So yesterday, I walked into one of the more humid rooms I’ve ever been to indoors. I proceeded to sign a form stating that I would not hold the company responsible if I fell down and died during the session (yeah…), changed, and went into the torture chamber.
Actually, as I walked into the exercise room, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I was. Frankly, it felt like I was on the beach. But hot and humid is my kind of weather, so I can understand if others feel like they are about to suffocate. Thanks to my awful sense of scent, I could not experience just how funky the room smelled. Others commented on it, though. (Humidity + Sweat = Not a good combination.)
I felt like the dumpiest person in the room. Everyone there was fit to the max. Now, I’m lucky to be height-weight proportionate… but everybody (EVERYBODY) was super hot! A ridiculously good-looking man (with an equally nice butt placed in a pair of short, short yoga pants) set up his mat in front of me… It suddenly made the session much more pleasant!
… And then the instructor marched in with her headset… and we got started. It was interesting that in this practice, the teacher does not exercise along with you; rather they march around the class while describing each pose, while correcting people who do them wrong. (I.e., me.) It really forced me to pay attention to what she was saying, while watching the people in front of me to copy what they were doing.
The session was not too bad. I got through it, sweating all the way. It was different. I never felt out of breath… but I knew that each muscle was getting a workout. I was able to do most of the exercises with some modification, except this one… Remarkably, I realized that I have weak ankles. Many of the poses needed firm support, and I just did not have the strength down there to balance correctly. Something I never noticed with my regular workouts. Now I need to find exercises that build muscle in my feet… lol.
I got through it, and since I have a free week of yoga sessions, I’ll probably go back on Friday. Will I continue Bikram Yoga and incorporate it into my regular workout schedule? That remains to be seen…
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Some tips if you decide to try Bikram:
1.) Please be in shape before you try this yoga practice. It is not for beginning exercisers. And know your limits. If you know that you can’t exercise continuously for a hour-and-a-half, this is not the exercise regimen for you.
2.) Drink lots of water beforehand. I downed 4 glasses of water prior to walking into the class. This is important. You sweat buckets throughout the session… not only because of the humidity, but also, it’s pure exercise.
3.) Bring your own yoga mat, a large towel to place over your mat and a smaller one to wipe away sweat from your face; and a bottle of water to drink during the workout as needed. (Studios rent yoga mats and towels for a fee, but y’know, people sweat over them. I’m not sure if I want to stand in other people’s funk… Even though I know they sanitize the mats afterwords, it still gives me the ewww feeling.) Additionally, you WILL need to shower afterwards, so bring all of your bath essentials too (shampoo, deodorant, etc.)
4.) Go in as little clothing as you feel comfortable in. (Men were in yoga shorts only. Some women wore two-piece bathing suits. I was in a sports bra and shorts.)
5.) If you start feeling dizzy or nauseous during the workout, stop and sit on your mat.
6.) If you know you can’t do a pose, don’t do it. (Even if the instructor is barking over you to get “deeper” into it.)
7.) The instructor is not up front doing the poses with you… make sure you’re placed in the middle of the room so that you can copy what the other, more advanced students are doing.