The trials and tribulations of Bikram Yoga

So basically, I first tried Bikram this time last year because I had a stress fracture, was suuuuuuuper grumps at not being able to run the marathon or literally do any kind of impact work, and there was a good deal on at Hot Bikram Yoga for a 30 day intro membership (note, HBY is in the process of dividing up its studios, so keep an eye on them!) However, it actually led to a successful 30 day challenge, a lot of washing, the confidence to wear just a sports bra in public, the discovery of the French plait as a hair-saving device, sweat in my eyes, ruined mascara and the consumption of packets and packets of electrolyte tablets.

My history with yoga is fragmented (for fragmented, read ‘practically non-existent’). I think it’s boring. If I had all the time in the world, yes I am sure yoga is fabulous, but when you’ve got an hour reserved to work out for the day, I’d prefer to really get my sweat on. My housemate thinks I’m mental. She’s a dancer. Therefore yoga makes sense to her. For me, yoga really worked on a beach in Thailand. It doesn’t really work anywhere else. I can’t keep my eyes closed, I get the giggles just thinking about some of the positions I’m expected to do and for this reason, I 100% should not be allowed to go to yoga classes with any of my friends. I’m unfortunately not very spiritual and therefore it takes a special kind of yoga to keep me occupied.

Enter Bikram.

So let’s just say my previous reason for not doing yoga went out the window. I was sweating just by lying down. There is something very satisfying about sweat literally dripping off you- it’s as if you feel the toxins flowing out and all is right with the world (well apart from sweat in your eye, an inability to hold body parts because your hands are so sweaty and a distinct feeling of unfairness that some people apparently just don’t sweat, they glow. I am not one of them)

Bikram is the same series of 26 postures, most of them held twice, and you very quickly learn what you think of them as you know what to expect. Here are some of my typical thought patterns:

  • OK I’m exhausted already and we’re JUST on breathing. Why is it making me sweat so much?
  • My elbows don’t go any higher because they just aren’t designed to
  • How is bending to one side SO difficult? HOW are my arms tired after 2 minutes?
  • What would happen if I fell over backwards?
  • Awkward pose lol. It is quite awkward I guess.
  • My leg sweat is making it much easier to slide my legs around. Always wear shorts for this reason.
  • My palms definitely don’t do that and I am pretty sure my boobs are preventing my fingertips from ever venturing below my nose.
  • Is this ‘standing head-to-nowhere-near-my-knee today’? I don’t understand how I could do this two days ago and I’m now completely incompetent
  • There is definitely sweat in my eyes now. And probably last night’s mascara
  • Balance balance balance bal….nope fell over again.
  • Why can I only do toe stand on one foot?
  • I like this one. It’s not very hard. I can pretend I’m doing it whilst actually wanting to stop.
  • Nope, elbows definitely don’t bend this way. Actually this is really flipping painful. I quit this one. I WILL NEVER BE A LOCUST. Wait, how is that man doing that? He is like the god of locust. Loci? Locusts?
  • I can never quite tell if my knees are actually off the ground or not. I don’t think they are. She’d tell me if I was doing it wrong.
  • Camel. I think I’m stuck here
  • Rabbit. I hate rabbit. I can’t breathe and my boobs are in my face. Does no one else suffer from this boob in face issue?
  • I can’t breathe this fast I can’t breathe this fast I can’t breathe this fast
  • BOOM I AM AWESOME. Get out of this room as quick as I can. Put head on tiles in bathroom.
  • I want a Quest bar and 7 pairs of super cute yoga shorts but first I am going to sit outside on a bench and slowly regain composure. I hope I don’t see anyone I know

A few tips from me

  • Drink LOADS of water. But only once you are told you can. Drink a lot before and after. And basically every day. Nuun rehydration tablets were a godsend during my 30DC
  • Wear as little as possible. You won’t be the only one half naked. No one is looking at you (well they are, but it’s more likely to see if you are managing any better than them to contort yourself). Men, just be thoughtful of those around you. Some shorts do not provide the coverage you think they do
  • Try and get a spot where you can see yourself in the mirror. It makes a massive difference on your focus and you can see what you are doing. You might have to wiggle the mat around for this
  • It’s ok to lie down if you need to! The hardest bit of your first few classes is just staying in the room.
  • Don’t wear cotton. Just ew
  • Take each class one at a time. If you are rubbish today, just let it happen. You’ll see an improvement but it doesn’t happen every time
  • Don’t arrange a date for after Bikram unless you are one of the aforementioned people who doesn’t sweat. You’ll take a good 45 minutes to return to a normal human colour after leaving the room
  • iPhones survive the heat
  • It’s weird when your shins sweat
  • Some people can get ridiculously deep into some of the postures. I wouldn’t worry about it, take it at your own tim and benefit from your practice
  • Try different places in the room to work out which is the best temperature. I.e go right by the door to benefit from the draft and act like that isn’t the reason you went there. Or near the window that you know will be opened approximately 36 minutes into practice.
  • If they offer beginner or posture sessions, do them! They are a fabulous way to understand if you’re getting the position right and ask all sorts of questions.
  • Hang around and ask the teachers things! They are always keen to help you learn, tweak your posture and help you to get the most of your practice

Unfortunately, as soon as I was allowed back to doing impact work and properly hitting the gym and running again, the time I could spare for Bikram became less and less. It can be a struggle to fit a 90 minute class in the day, especially when you consider getting there 20 minutes early and the multiple outfits and towels required (especially if you are then cycling to work). They began to do express classes but I had just got so out of the loop, plus I’d moved offices and the London Bridge studio just wasn’t the same as Parson’s Green (read, it was a bit busier and I found it harder to concentrate!) Basically I would love to do Bikram if I didn’t have to go to the office! I genuinely think it helped my recovery, I think it improved my running once I was allowed to start again, my flexibility was vastly improved, my skin felt better (I was wearing far less makeup because it just clogs you up) as did my concentration. It takes a certain grit to keep going at some of these postures again and again.

It’s definitely something I would recommend you try. Just I advise not after a heavy night. It might be 3pm and you think you’ve drunk a ton of water….but believe you me it won’t be enough. The heat gets hotter, the postures get harder and you will literally just want to curl up in a ball and hope it stops. It doesn’t.
Good incentive to cut down on the gin though.

Note I’ve started doing yoga at Virgin Active to help my running. But only dynamic yoga because it’s super flowing and there are lots of press ups. I still get the giggles though. Some things never change.

2 thoughts on “The trials and tribulations of Bikram Yoga

  1. Pingback: Variety is the spice of life – so try something different with somuchmore | These Girls Do

  2. Pingback: REVIEW: Hot Yoga with Everyone Active | These Girls Do

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