(or my experience with Bikram Yoga (in Belgrade) after 10 classes (yeiii))
In the desperate search for some training, I spent hours browsing & looking for a yoga studio that I would like. My dearest Google suddenly showed Bikram yoga, and in addition to all yoga names that I just couldn’t yet figure out, I wanted to know which one is this. It turned out that the only difference from other yogas is that Bikram yoga is done – at 40 degrees C. Wtf ?!
Ok, ok, who would want to torment themself at 40 C (104 F)? On the beach I could barely hold a glass let alone do the exercises, I thought. Yet I, as a super supporter of the summer and the heat, wanted to learn more about this yoga.
– Hi, I would like to ask about this type of yoga. – And of course, the most logic question was: – Is this yoga really done at 40 C?!
– Yes, in a specially heated room at 40 degrees C.
– Hmm… – I was still confused – How ’bout for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience?
– Everyone can do it. Class lasts for 90 minutes and you do the same 26 postures every class so you’ll learn them very quickly.
– 26 poses? Same ones? – Now I was even more confused. – Every class we do the same exercises?!
– Yes. 26 same postures every class.
This sounded boring. Very boring to be honest. I continued conversation purely as a courtesy and to compare prices with 35 other yoga centers I called that day.
– And what is the price for this pleasure?
– 10000 RSD (about 100 EUR). – Even though my dad doesn’t hear so well, my ears still served me well. Ten thousand dinars for ten classes. I repeated the price like an echo after him, and I was already in the process of “Thank you very much, goodbye” when I heard from the other side:
– But currently we have discount, really nice promotional price – 1000 (about 10 EUR) instead of 10000 dinars.
– Oh, great! I’ll see you tonight then!
Honestly, I do not know did the low price won or my stubborn curiosity to know how people can do anything at 40 C that does not involve lying, but I got ready, set off and…
Well, exercising is not for everybody!
Wait a second, just a couple of things before anyone thinks to embark on this type of yoga. How much are you physically active? Not quite huh? Be sure not to go if you have not trained for a long time before this or you are not in training (or you may have trained at lazy intervals popularly known as the “preparations for the summer”). This will not help you. No one shows you postures and if you do not know how to properly stand in poses, no one will correct you and you can seriously hurt yourself. My recommendation is to find a good yoga or fitness center (you can ask around), work with a trainer who will show you how to do the exercises and then consider moving on. Physical education is not a frivolous thing!
The first class – I didn’t faint!
The first class was gently said, a complete disaster. At least 8 times I sat down so I wouldn’t faint from the heat. “Special warmed room” was heated by infrared heater and I don’t know how much you guys sweat, but everything on me was soaking wet and this yoga can really comfortable be done in a bathing suit. It’s like you’re on a beach at mid noon and practice, but the sun is not beating directly at you and you have a bunch of “colleagues” who are suffering with you. While I was in the class and my body was cleansing from toxins, I cursed the day I even thought eating any junk food because I felt the chips with a birthday party in my elementary school came out of me through my sweat. Fortunately, when we got out of the heated room, they served oranges to help people recover, but that no one really did get to taste because I took all of them (ops!).
Further more, some girlfriends that were waiting for me in the cafe after practice thought there was something wrong with me.
– What going on, your hair is all wet and you’re all red, are you okay?
When I was able to explain to them that I was “only” doing yoga, they asked me, among other things, would I consider going next time to this – “death yoga” 🙂
However, the first class was over, and I didn’t faint or got out of the room and it was indeed a success. And since I wanted to use my privileged position of full price non- payment, I went for a second time. This time I didn’t even think to faint. Or ever again. Simply, the first couple of classes you get used to the heat and it doesn’t pose any problem ever again. On the contrary. You want a warmer room. You don’t want to wipe away the sweat, you do not want to drink water. Heat feels good on you and you like the feeling that you are cleaning out of toxins. It feels great to see the results of your work right on the spot.
And? How does one pretty unstretched person feel in this class?
Great, great! Really great! The heat helps you go into the postures more easily then when you do a normal (yoga) training. You can feel the little competition among practitioners, but if you forget that and concentrate on yourself, you are on the right track (as in every sport). Also, it seems to me that Bikram is quite addictive, it somehow draws you to come back to next class, although while you are going through poses you think you will never, by any chances, go back there. And as much as at first I didn’t like the idea of doing the same poses over and over again, in the end I was glad I learned all of them so I knew what to expect next (and the feeling “how do I just go though this” was a bit easier). You sort of enjoy the feeling that you know this postures, and you go deeper into poses, and you are more concentrated into perfecting one pose over and over again. Also, at the end of practice, when you lie down in Savasana (corpse pose), it is very easy to fall into a meditative state even though I’ve only recently started to meditate (some other time I’ll tell you more about meditation).
Suma sumarum – I was very pleased with the invested (small amount of) money. Trainings are demanding (which was fine with me), you get used to the heat that gives you pleasure to easily exercise other sports while it’s hot, the whole body feels great, and since it is done at high temperature, it is inevitable that you will lose a few pounds.
But… There has to be some “catch”?
Yeah, well, maybe not everything is bees & flowers. Somehow it seems that training Bikram for a long period (at least for me) would be a bit monotonous. As much as I looked forward to my progress in some postures that I could do much better after 10 classes, it is still only 26 poses, and you are better in just a number of asanas (yoga postures). Also, the room still could not be heated above 35 degrees (95 F), and the infrared heaters are problematic because they are blowing hot air only in certain places so some corners are warmer and some cooler. By the way, I have not done 10 classes 10 days in a row and I think that it would (at least, again, for me) be too hard to do that in terms of dehydration. After a class of Bikram, my body needed the whole next day to make up for lost fluid and I really did not had a desire to go day after day.
All those in favor raise your hand up!
All things have their pros and cons, and here are my 5 reasons for and out of favor for Bikram yoga, so you can decide for yourself whether you would be interested to try it out:
- nobody shows you the exercises
- rugs are being charged
- each class is the same
- people around you are competitive and it can ruin your fun
- heat in the room is not well organised (although they said they would fix it)
- they give you oranges at the end of each practice (sounds funny but it is really yupi ya yeiii)
- you can feel the whole body detoxification because (however strange this may sound) sweat feels great
- flexibility of the body is better
- exercises are good and very enjoyable
- you lose pounds, or if you are not interested in this, the body gets beautiful shape
I would add that I would not stop doing this “hot yoga” but I prefer it as a complement to other types of exercises, so I would not practice only and exclusively Bikram. So, what do you think? Would you try this “death yoga”?
Until next time,
p.s. Bikram yoga studio website in Belgrade can be found here