Q: How do you take a 3000 year art form, freely practiced by millions and turn it into something new, proprietary and lucrative?
A: Simplify it and add heat exhaustion.
I love food. Not in a pig-like ‘swimming in food’ indulgent way, I enjoy the pleasure of cooking, eating and socialising around food. Food has always been easy, I’m one of those people who throws stuff together and it tastes yummy. I learned this from my mama.
Exercise, on the other hand has always been hard. Even the stuff I like doing like aikido or spinning or weight circuits have been truly labours of love.
Recently I turned to yoga as a way of staying flexible, keeping fit in body and mind – I travel a lot and yoga seemed like the thing that I could do anywhere. Specifically I do vinyasa style yoga which, through a mixture of movement and breath control, helps you get sweaty and your heart rate up. The discipline to maintain posture and balance is something that seems to get better over time.
Well, when I say sweaty – I really mean ‘moderately’ perspiring. ‘Sweaty’ needs to be redefined when you start doing Bikram yoga.
Bikram is a style that involves 26 postures (fairly basic ones) each done twice. Each practice sessions consists of working through the postures over a 90 minute period.
Oh yeah, and you do this in 105F (40+ celsius!) degree heat. If the numbers are confusing, lets just say that is hot – very hot.
Sweaty does not begin to describe how much water leaves your body during a bikram session. In fact you sweat so much, you need to bring 3 towels. One to lay on your mat during the session to soak up the sweat and prevent from slipping and sliding all over the place – even with a yoga mat. Then you need one for actually soaking the sweat off your brow, your hands, ankles, shins and pretty much anywhere you need to grip to actually do a posture.
Once you’re done in the class and with both these towels now totally soaked, you need the third for a much needed shower.
Prior to this class, the longest single yoga session I had done was an hour – without added hat exhaustion. So, it was no surprise that by 45 minutes into the session I was totally exhausted (mostly from the heat though), I quickly got beyond the sweatiness and into the postures – most are quite simple (even if my current dimensions and inflexibility prevent me from achieving them). The heat does add a little something to the mix. I found I was able to stretch much easier (whether this was because of my increased blood flow or the lightheadedness – I dunno)
Stick to The Drill
The instructor is a Cuban emigré galled Daniel – a really nice dude. He knows what the postures should look like, he’s great at explaining and demonstrating how to do them effectively to get the designed benefit. But I think there is a script that he has mastered as we work through the 26 postures. I guess when you run 4 – 5 classes a day, you get a script.
Daniel doesn’t do the session with the class though, he literally instructs it. I guess when you run so many sessions a day, you can’t really physically afford to do every one.
All in all I would do Bikram regularly. The studio had a 30 day trial deal for €50 and I will use as much of that as I can , beyond that it gets a little pricey and I may just do it four times a month in addition to my daily vinyasa practice.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely!
Thanks for reading 🙂 Have you tried Bikram yoga? What do you enjoy about it?