Last month I inadvertently ended up on a 30 day Bikram yoga trial. Having recently moved house and on a quest to check out my local yoga studios, the huge neon sign beckoning me in seemed like the obvious place to start. The Unlimited Classes deal for a month made more economical sense than booking a single class, and before I knew it, I’d signed up.
Though having dabbled in hot yoga in the past (usually around 30°C), I was yet to experience a Bikram class at the mandatory 40°C, and intrigued as to what this popular style had to offer. The studio actually has a choice of Bikram, Vinyasa Flow, and ‘Inferno Pilates’, all in the heat. I decided to try all three and hopefully find one for me.
It’s a friendly studio. One yogi arrives, announcing brightly that he’s back for more torture. He gives me some advice; “The most important thing is staying in the room. If you don’t crack the pose the first time, don’t worry, we do everything twice so you get another shot.”
The studio itself has an air of bling; there’s a big mirrored Buddha and a mirror encouraging you to take a #SweatySelfie (I duly obliged after class).
A little early and thinking I would ‘chill out’ in the studio before the class begun was a fool-hardy move. It’s hotter than Mars and I make a swift exit to wait outside with the rest of the students. Once we had begun the layers come off quickly; any inhibitions go out of the window quickly in a Bikram class.
The sequence of poses in is always the same in Bikram and even the instructors words are scripted. For routine-lovers, I can see why it’s appealing - you know what you are getting and what's to come.
It feels like a yoga bootcamp of sorts and as we sweat our way through there’s a sense of comradery in the air. The sweat is something to behold; it’s like someone turned the tap on. Somewhat cleansing, there is no other option but to embrace it. I make it to the end and leave slightly dazed and confused.
Another day, another class. Next up is Vinyasa Flow, but not as I know it. It’s a great flowing class and the heat adds a new dimension and an increased cardiovascular element. I can hear my heart thumping against the mat as we lay down to take locust pose. The impromptu dancing and mountain climbers at the end are unexpected, and I again wonder what I’ve got myself into here. Will I be back for more? Well it’s Inferno Pilates tomorrow, so I guess so.
I give the Inferno Pilates as good as shot as I can; there is pumping music, more sweat, and it’s a challenging class but with lots of options depending your level.
I feel glad to have experienced yoga a whole world away from what I know it. It was challenging, eye opening, and I felt a real sense of bonding within the group. However, was it for me? Some like it hot; but sadly not me. Onto the next yoga adventure!
Have you tried Bikram yoga before? What did you think? Love it or loathe it? I'd love to know!