When I tell people that I practice yoga that doesn’t mean that I’m meditating on a beach somewhere breathing in sync with the crashing of the waves while I wash my worries away through the power of mind over matter. No no. It looks nothing like this:
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this type of yoga. I’ve just personally never gotten much out of it. It usually just makes me very sleepy. So when I explain to people that I actually do Bikram yoga [or hot yoga] they assume I’ve drank the Koolaid and have fallen under the spell of the yoga cult. Which is half true.
My classes do look very similar to this but they are only about 50-60 people. A lot of people ask me why I do Bikram or what I love about it and my answer is always the same. It makes me happy. I’m not one to work out [like ever] but when I went to my very first class of Bikram I was hooked. I’ve never left a working feeling stronger or more pumped with endorphins as I did after trying Bikram yoga. Bikram Choudhury developed a sequence 26 poses after a knee injury and reciving the news that he may never walk again. After practicing these poses everyday for six months he regained the strength in his knee and was able to walk, which is what started the craze. Now I know that last sentence may have seemed a little cultish but let me tell ya, this stuff works!
I have always carried my stress between my shoulder blades and nothing besides getting a massage everyday could ease my tension, which we all know is a little impractical. After my first class I will never forget how loose my shoulders felt. I hadn’t felt that free of stress for as long as I could remember. Each pose is devised to work a certain muscle group while cleansing your internal organs and building strength and flexibility. Continued practice can prolong your health, your life, increase your flexibility, help with child birth, help with arthritis, cure back pain, speed up the recovery from surgery or injuries, the benefits truly are endless. Here are some of my favorite poses:
Standing Separate Leg Stretching [Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana]
Half Moon pose [Ardha-Chandrasana]
Part 4 of Half Moon
Standing Head to Knee [Dandayamana-Janushirasana]
Standing Bow [Dandayamana-Dhanurasana]
Toe Stand [Padangustasana]
And when I say favorite poses I don’t mean that I enjoy doing them, [they actually really hurt!] but I love the benefits I receive from them. I love yoga because it’s all about an inner battle with yourself. You aren’t competing with anyone else except for your mind and trusting your body. It truly is exhilarating. If you’ve never gone to a Bikram class I highly suggest it, and if you live in SA we can go together! I go to the Alamo Heights location.
This form of yoga also has it’s risks. You have to prepare your body for an intense class like this, mostly for the heat. Each class is 90 minutes long in a room that has been heated to about 105F with a humidity of 50%, and the more bodies in the room the steamier it gets. So there are a few essentials you’ll need to have a successful practice.
- Because the room is so hot you will be completely drenched in sweat after the first breathing exercise. Seriously. So it’s important to wear as little as possible and choose fabrics that wick away moisture. This racer tank keeps me cool while I sweat through the rest of the class.
- You don’t want to wear a lot of loose clothing so that the instructor can see all of the lines of your body to ensure you’re doing each pose correctly and not hurting yourself. I wear these boogie shorts so that I get a little more coverage but can still see my entire leg in the mirrors.
- You must have a yoga towel. They are the exact size of your mat which you’ll lay down on top of your mat to absorb the puddle of sweat you’ll be creating. It’s for safety mostly, things can get slippery!
- You can use whichever yoga mat you’re comfortable with. I choose to use this double thick mat because of a past injury I’ve had that makes certain poses unbearable with thinner mats. The thicker the mat though the harder it is to balance, just to warn you.
- You’ll want to come up with a hairstyle that completely keeps your hair out of your face so that you won’t be prone to fix it or mess with it during each pose. Mine is a combination of a bun on top of my head [to not interfere with floor postures] using a butt load of bobby pins to keep every stray hair in place.
- It’s important to have something to carry all of your equipment in. I use this Rume bag because it’s waterproof and won’t get ruined after class by my soaked towel. Gross right?
- Hydration is the MOST important element to Bikram yoga. You must not only stay hydrated in class, but also drink at least 40oz of water before and after class to prepare your body for all of the water it will lose in class. This Hydro Flask is my absolute favorite thing every. It is completely insulated and will keep your water iced throughout your entire class. I’ve even left it in my car during the summer and it still had ice in it the next day. Amazing!
It is also important to remember to eat enough before and after practicing yoga, but not to eat 2 hours before class or you might feel a little sick. Have any of you tried Bikram? If not Bikram which type of yoga do you prefer? Or are you new to yoga all together? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’ve taken Derek a couple times but he doesn’t enjoy it like I do. He rather run outside or ride his bike. To each their own I suppose!