I tried Bikram Yoga once, it was horrible.
The class was led by a dictatorial teacher, in an over-heated room. I spent 90 minutes struggling for my survival, drenched in sweat, ended up on my hands and knees in a state of shock, nearly puked myself.
But then I tried again, god knows why I’m so stubborn.
Three years down the road I became sort of addicted to this controversial form of Yoga, especially thanks to Corinne and her great crew.
Bikram Yoga is tough, painful, repetitive and everybody hates Bikram Choudhury, the man who created it. Yet his fast-food-like Yoga healed people, it’s healing me, for instance. If you’re curious to try, please do, you might love it or HATE it, but I don’t think you’ll waste your time.
And for those in the middle of a life crisis, it might be an opportunity to reset everything top bottom using that last chance treatment.
Let me tell you what to expect before your first Bikram class:
- It’s expensive. Count $20/class.
- The beginning feels terrible. A bit like being trapped in a barrel sitting in the death valley at 4 pm. Very nice.
- Some teachers are obnoxious little Hitlers. And they believe being tough helps you get better.
- It’s exhausting. I can’t think of something more tiring than a Bikram yoga session.
- It smells bad. Sometime, my Bikram outfits’ odor reminds me of moldy cottage cheese stuffed into a dead raccoon.
- It cleanses your body. Flushes the kidneys and liver, amazingly efficient if you’ve done drugs or alcohol in the past.
- It beats depression. Including severe forms, Bikram would uplift you even if you were on the death row.
- It forces you into a healthy lifestyle. You feel drawn to eat vegetables. Smoking loses its appeal.
- It fixes joints problem. I’ve seen people with serious form of arthritis have a normal life thanks to Bikram yoga.
- It buffs you up. Makes you gain muscle and lose excess fat.
- It helps with meditation. Bikram poses require a high level of focus which is helpful for Mindfulness practice.
Now if you’re still in the mood for a try:
Before you get started
- Tolerate the pain. Your efforts WILL pay within the first two weeks, hold on for at least two weeks.
- Aim for the long run. Don’t pry your knees open trying to achieve a stretching pose right away. Give yourself some time.
- Take breaks if you need to. Once again, better go slow and steady than be hysterical for a month and then quit. During the course, sit and rest if you need to. If the teachers forbids it: take off.
- Breathe. I thought I knew how to breathe until I nearly choked up in a Bikram class. Breathe deep, seriously.
- Use your club’s clean towel service. As said above, you don’t want to carry your smelly stuff around.
- Drink all through the day. It’s hard to believe how dehydrated you’ll get after a Bikram session.
- Don’t play Superman. If you’re a guy, save your energy to make it through the 90mn of class, play it smooth.
- Don’t come with an aerobic outfit. Unless you’d like to commit suicide by heat. A brief is just fine.
- Don’t show late. Come early enough in the class so you can take a cool spot and warm-up in the room.
- Don’t confuse Bikram with its teachers . Some neurotic teachers never open windows and praise the “No Pain, No Gain” approach. Chose another instructor if you don’t like to be in the army, there’s plenty of ways to teach Bikram Yoga, some will match your personality type. Be patient and keep going.
- Don’t pay attention to the Bikram polemic. It doesn’t matter what Bikram says (he’s provocative) or how old Yoga lovers consider him. If his style works for you, that should be good enough.
If you’ve already tried Bikram Yoga, I’m curious to know what you’ve gone through when you started, can you share that in the below? Thanks :)