Bikram Yoga: 90 Minutes Of Demanding Yoga In 105 Degrees
“Yeah, me too,” said her equally fit friend.
I thought, “what did I get myself into?” as I watched toned and tattooed experienced yogis leave the room armed with only sports bras, spandex shorts, towels and water. I had a right to be concerned. Bikram classes are 90 demanding minutes of yoga in 105 degrees. You’re going to sweat. A lot. That’s only if you don’t pass out first.
The room felt pleasantly warm when I walked in; toasty, almost like laying on a beach somewhere in the sun. The instructor that night, Loren Cherrstrom, began the class with breathing exercises. Bikram classes are always identical: the same breathing exercises and 26 poses in order every time.
I was expecting soothing music, maybe Enya, and an instructor with a calming voice similar to every other yoga class I’ve taken. Bikram is not normal yoga, however. There were no soft, instrumental undertones throughout the class and Loren talked surprisingly loud and rapidly for a “relaxing” activity.
For the first 30 minutes I was scared of fainting. The heat felt overwhelming, I had already finished half my water bottle and all the bending over and stretching was making me dizzy. Sweat dripped from every part of my body and the few clothes I had on were drenched. I was seriously considering walking out to get some air when something changed.
After about 50 minutes I felt the most wonderful sensation. My mind stopped worrying about everything and became quiet; I suddenly felt at peace with the poses and myself. Calming your mind is what Bikram teaches us, said Loren after class.
“Bikram helps your hypothalamus-brainstem bond, or your mind-body connection to allow your body to return to a relaxed state after experiencing stress,” he explained. “If you can breathe in a hot room, you can breathe nice and slow anywhere, even behind a steering wheel in L.A. traffic.”
Loren would know. He’s taught over 7,000 Bikram classes over the course of nine years. The previous biological engineer-turned-yoga teacher explained that in addition to clearing your mind, Bikram improves digestion, stress, circulation, respiration, and muscular development, as well as cleanses the kidneys and lymphatic system.
Many dedicated yogis venture to the studio multiple times a week, some go as many as five days. Sweating is like a religion to these people. After experiencing a class I understand their commitment. The next day I felt loose, relaxed and oddly at peace with everything. If you’re adventurous, or in need of a natural form of anxiety relief, I definitely recommend giving Bikram a try.
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