Bikram Yoga, which is also known as hot yoga is a 90-minute class of 26 yoga poses designed to work out every part of your body, takes place in a 35 to 42 degree heated room, which also referred to by the man himself (Bikram Choudhury) as torture chambers. Everyday yoga as we know have many psychological benefits and can help to beat anxiety and stress but with hot yoga you can also develop a deeper connection and physical awareness of your body which you may not necessarily get through a non heated class, this connection can be carried on through to and implemented in everyday life.
I started my first Bikram yoga class back in 2009 when a friend introduced me to an offer in Canary Wharf, I had no idea what I was signing up for. I recall that I walked out a few times but went back in and I survived the duration of the class.
Few years later working in Hampstead it was very convenient to go back to a hot yoga studio in Camden. I felt whole again. It was tough but going back reminded me of the feeling I get post workout, not so much an adrenaline rush but the feeling of exhilaration and being in a complete state of a new awakening. It’s this feeling that I get hooked on. I actually don’t enjoy the classes and find them torturous, I’m terrible with heat and overheat very easily. I have a short attention span and my constantly ticking creative mind watches the clock and the minutes move by at a snail pace. A relaxing event it is not! But every class I complete without leaving the room means I’ve avoided failure.
After Camden I had another long break with a house move and two pregnancies. Eight months after my second child my body was still feeling the aftermath and trauma of childbirth and pregnancy. I decided I had to turn to Bikram Yoga. A fabulous place in Loughton was the closest to me at a 90-minute class around £15 each. Couldn’t do all the poses but I survived the first class and I was hooked again on the same feeling after class. I felt the health benefits immediately and noticed a change in day to day life. I don’t think Bikram is something I would do continuously as with most things I know my body will build a resistance to it and I won’t feel the benefits as much. I will probably go back to it when I feel like my body needs a detox or a reboot.
I never got in to Bikram seeing it as a fashion trend and I did my research in to whether it is actually proven to be as good as they say it is. Even with all the celebrity followers and enthusiasts I wasn’t jumping on the bandwagon blindly. There are still no conclusive reports out there to support Bikram and it’s not something doctors would ever recommended either.
A few tips to consider when starting a new class:
- Start drinking three litres of water a day, two days prior to your class and keep well hydrated. A litre before each meal helps me remember. (I also freeze a large bottle of water to take with me to class)
- Get to the class early and mentally prepare yourself.
- Acclimatise your body slowly, don’t push yourself too hard too fast.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal to close to your class, eat several hours before I have a pre workout recipe which helps to release energy slowly throughout the day and is full of lycopene goodness.
I believe there are some the health benefits. Here are a few points to consider, good and bad if you are thinking about doing hot yoga: –
- Aids digestive system
You may even notice a change in your bowels almost instantly
- Clears intestines
- Sweat out toxins
- Sleep better
A lengthy workout of yoga aids a good rest at night.
- Drinking three litres of water a day
To survive a class, you need be well hydrated this means being aware of your daily water intake which you may not do on a regular day with no fitness.
- Water weight loss
Despite reports on weight loss there is no actual evidence to support this if you do lose weight it is most likely excess water you are carrying/water retention.
- Can burn up to 700 calories a session
- Low blood pressure
The excessive heat can lower your blood pressure if you’re prone to this please monitor it or visit your doctor.
If you can’t keep yourself hydrated it can lead to many other problems caused by dehydration such as loss of concentration and fatigue.
- Nausea and dizziness
- Sweat out minerals which need to be replaced
- Softness of limbs/risk of injury
Hot yoga has a tendency over time to soften your limbs as you get more flexible, this means you maybe more prone to injury as your body becomes more vulnerable physically.
Overall I would recommend hot yoga. It being worth a try at least once. Give it go you might enjoy it and you too may get hooked on to the exhilarating feeling post work out.
But the uncomfortable environment of hot yoga isn’t for everyone. Give me a non heated class any day or everyday of the week and I will be just as happy and healthy.
On a side note with regards to yoga attire and accessories, wear whatever makes you comfortable and lets your skin breath. Invest in a good yoga mat and a non slip towel or a combo mat which you can purchase from Bunnies & Zen I got myself a microfibre, sherbet lemon towel to go over my Stella McCartney mat which I had purchased before I had seen the combo mat which I may just purchase anyway. First time customers get 10% off!