I’m Torn: Bikram Yoga

I’m always looking for a new, interesting way to work out and keep me coming back for more. That being said, I’m also pretty picky. I don’t want to invest in something if I’m not sure that I’ll like it, and in the summer, I need something to help keep me accountable.

There have been so many times that I’ve said, “Oh, I can skip going to the gym today – I’m going to go on a run! And then go swimming!” But what really happens is…. I go to the air-conditioned mall. And eat Panda Express.

So, when one of my girls suggested we take a Bikram yoga class together, I was super excited. Having each other to go with make things fun, and we’d have to pay for the classes, so we’d stay accountable. Sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. Or it did before I actually took a class. Now, I’m just torn.

Love it:

– Weight loss. After a class, you’ve already sweated off some inches. A lot of inches. If those few dehydration-induced losses aren’t enough, the body supposedly burns fat more effectively when it’s warm. The extreme heat increases your metabolic rate, helps to detoxify, and supposedly helps you to stretch more than you would be able to in a normal climate.

Easy to learn. There are only 26 easy-to-learn asanas. In my class, each pose was done twice and held for 30 seconds each, which was especially nice for me, because I’d never done yoga before with the exception of “Yoga Booty Ballet.” It was easy to follow and I didn’t get lost, but I have a feeling that since it was so easy and monotonous, it could get boring after awhile.

Hot bod. Since Bikram is more oriented toward weight loss and muscle toning than meditation and mental health, it may be a faster way to get that hot yoga body, which, after looking around the room, is officially my life goal. Everyone in the class was long, lean and totally toned. Clearly, this exercise works… or the heat is making me hallucinate.

The post yoga high. The best part about Bikram has to be the endorphins and rejuvenation at the conclusion of the session. After this workout, you feel fantastic. It’s amazing to step out of the hot room and let your body readjust to normal temperatures as you mentally absorb what you were just able to do. Your head is clear, your body is restored, and you feel energized, yet calm.

Loathe it:

Obviously Bikram yoga is hot. Extreme heat leads to dehydration. And dehydration leads to death.

Why would we willingly put ourselves in a room specifically heated to a high temperature (usually around 100°) and then exercise? Doesn’t that seem kind of counter intuitive to you? Even the founder of hot yoga, Choduhury Bikram himself, refers to his studio as the “torture chamber.” Excellent…

Not only is the room hot, it’s also humid. 15 minutes into the class I’m wondering why I’m wearing Under Armour outfit instead of a bikini. Or just one giant super absorbent towel. I was dripping so much my hands and feet kept slipping on my mat. Pair that with my dizziness from being so hot and in downward dog for so long and I swear I almost broke my nose and face at least 4 times over the course of this class.

But my biggest Bikram issue was the lack of sincerity involved. Since this type of yoga is more fitness oriented and lacks a focus on mantras and breathing, it felt a little empty. For me, this isn’t a huge problem as it helps to think of the class as more of a physical fitness experience rather than something with a mind-body connection. But if you’re already used to a different style of yoga such as Vinyassa, Bikram might feel almost wrong.

So, now that I’m home, showered and cooled off (thanks to a trip to Jamba Juice), I’m torn on this one. I’ve already paid for 6 more classes, so I’ll definitely be going, but I don’t know if I’m going to be liking! Maybe a little present from Lululemon or Lucy would help…

Have any of you tried Bikram or any other forms of yoga? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Body Blog: Happiness vs. Addiction
Body Blog: Happiness vs. Addiction
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