I’ve been meaning to get back into yoga for quite some time now. I keep reading how yoga complements running and how important it is to stretch out your muscles and build up core strength in order to avoid common running injuries.
I’ve dabbled in yoga in the past. I adored it during both of my pregnancies – it was a wonderful way to relax and stretch out my sore pregnant body. It was a great way to practice breathing and meditating – both of which were useful during my labours.
Last week I noticed that a local Bikram Yoga studio was offering one of those Groupon-type deals – $30 for one month of unlimited yoga. I had to give it a try. I figured even if I only went two times in the month, it was worth it. So I bought the coupon, and yesterday I went to my first class.
What is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 yoga postures done in a certain sequence, practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius. Each class is 90 minutes.
Benefits of Bikram Yoga
There are many benefits to practicing yoga in a heated room. The heat allows your body to stretch more easily and this can increase flexibility. You will sweat a lot, which helps to flush out toxins from your body. You will get a cardiovascular workout without putting stress on your joints. You will challenge your mind and your body. You will increase your concentration.
Preparation before your first class
I was nervous before my first class and I did not know what to expect. I did some reading online and learned that it is essential to come to the class well hydrated. I drank a lot of water the day before the class and about a litre of water in the morning before the class. I also brought half a litre of water with me and filled it with ice cubes so that it would stay cool during the class. You also need to bring a mat and a large towel to go on top of the mat to catch all the dripping sweat. I ate a small breakfast about two hours before the class – my staple before workout breakfast – vegan overnight oats.
As mentioned above, the class is 90 minutes and is held in a room heated to 40 degrees Celcius. As soon as I walked into the room, the wall of heat hit me. 40 degrees feels hot. It feels like the hottest summer day with no breeze, the kind of day where you sit in the shade and don’t move, and you are still sweating. I set up my mat and towel quietly and waited for the class to start. Silence was observed as soon as you walk into the room – no one was chit chatting. Everyone was on their mat stretching a bit or lying down in shivasana.
I was quite surprised that the class was full on a Wednesday morning at 9:30 am. I honestly thought there would be 3 or 4 people there and there were probably over 25. I expected everyone to be super fit, but there were people there in all shapes and sizes. Men, women, young, and old! Most women were wearing tanktops and shorts, or a sports bra and shorts. I wore my Lululemon Groove Shorts and a Moving Comfort Juno Sports Bra. I had a Lululemon Swiftly Tank on also but I took that off as soon as I got into the room and realized how hot it was and how soon it would be covered in sweat.
The teacher walked into the room and welcomed everyone, including all the new students to the class. He said that he would not be doing the poses, but he would be describing them to us, and that the new students could watch the experienced students if we needed to see a pose.
He led us through the series of 26 poses. Each pose is done twice. The first half of the poses are standing poses and the second half are lying down poses. The teacher spoke A LOT. It almost felt like yoga boot camp! He kept telling us to bend further, go lower, try harder.
The stretching felt so good. I loved being in the heated room. I loved dripping in sweat. I was sweating in places I’ve never sweat before – I was surprised when I saw sweat on my shins. My heart was racing when I held the poses and I was shocked at what a great cardiovascular workout it was.
Apparently it is very common for beginners to feel dizzy or nauseous during the class. However, at no point did I feel dizzy, nauseous or sick. I credit this to being well hydrated, and also to being in good shape from running. I was surprised how quickly the 90 minutes passed.
After the class
I felt amazing after the class. I felt calm, relaxed, and invigorated. This feeling lasted throughout the day. I felt a tinge of a dehydration headache coming on after the class, and I made the headache go away by drinking a lot. I drank coconut water right after the class, followed by water mixed with Vega Electrolyte hydrator. Then I drank water throughout the day. I have had a sore back for the past few weeks, which I believe is from carrying Benjamin. He is 30 pounds now and it’s a workout just getting him in and out of his carseat. The poses from the class stretched out my back and made it feel so much better.
I loved the mental challenge of the class. When you are in a room that is 40 degrees, your body is telling you to get out of there and find somewhere cooler to go. It takes extreme mental concentration to not only stay in the room, but to complete all of the yoga poses. I loved the intensity of the class and I was impressed by how hard the other students were working on the poses and concentrating. I was proud of myself for doing the class and really challenging my body and mind. I also loved that there were no distractions during the class – no clock, no iPhone, no music – just 90 minutes to test your mental and physical strength, 90 minutes of sweating, 90 minutes of intense concentration. When was the last time that I didn’t look at my iPhone or another screen for 90 minutes (other than when I am sleeping of course)?
I can’t wait to go back! My goal is to go twice a week for the next 30 days.
Have you tried Bikram Yoga or another version of hot yoga? What did you think about it?