IF you have never heard or tried Bikram Yoga, let me explain some aspects; each class begins and ends with a breathing exercise. I have to admit this is an exercise that does make me cringe slightly. It involves breathing in and out for six-second intervals. I feel completely stupid doing it as looking at myself in the mirror breathing in such an awkward stance can make you self conscious. But I have to admit it works. After it you feel revitalized and ready for the class.
The class then moves to the balancing postures. These are as described, all about balance. Some are very challenging and will take a few classes to perfect but you’ll be surprised at how well you can do in most of them.
The class then moves to floor postures, which involve mat work mixed with multiple Savasanas. This is a word you will come to love if you begin your journey into Bikram. This is a pose of lying on the floor in complete relaxation, and believe me, once you get to the second section of the class you will be more than thankful for it. After you reach the end of the floor postures the class moves back to the breathing exercise to finish off the class.
First experiences – first and foremost there is one main rule for bikram: you cannot leave the room for the full 90-minute class. This was something I found out on my first day and was shocked that I wouldn’t be able to chicken out, should the mood take me. Sadly I had signed all the forms and paid when I heard this. There was no going back now!
Walking in the room was hot – but not as hot as I had expected. I had expected something like a sauna but I was surprised to find the heat was rather mild in comparison. I was armed with a two-litre bottle of water, a towel and mat: things which you will need for every class along with a lot of determination. Once in the room I felt awkward. There was a sea of bodies as people lay on the ground absorbing the heat, enjoying the silence and relaxation before the class began. Being new I found the quietest corner at the back and laid my mat. I sat looking around the room taking in the surrounding but unfortunately that wasn’t to be for too long. Before I knew it the instructor had entered the room and closed the door. The heat in the room seemed to immediately rise as now all sources of air had been diminished.
Everyone, familiar with the class, jumped up from their lying positions and stood in the center of their mats. I followed their lead and stood nervously not knowing what to expect. The teacher introduced me and told everyone it was my first class. I felt relief pass over me, at least now I wouldn’t stand out too much attempting to grasp this discipline. She reassured me that today was not about keeping up with everyone else, it was about going at my own pace and getting used to the heat. So at least then I knew I wasn’t expected to master the splits just yet!
Having never done yoga before, I was quite scared of what to expect but what I did not know is that the class follows the same routine every time. Each class you do is the same 26 postures in the same order and at the same pace, all amounting to a 90-minute class. This means that if you want, you can become an expert in no time. So that was it. My first class was underway!
I found the whole experience new and interesting but having rose to my feet I was struggling with the soaring heat in the room. I felt the sweat immediately start to drip from places that I have never sweated from. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted. I felt overwhelmed by the whole experience and I was begging for it to be over. I was looking around wondering ‘why would people pay for this form of torture‘. Every time we took a break I was lying down thinking ‘I cannot do this, I have to make some form of excuse to leave…surely 90 minutes has passed already‘.
Then the 90 minutes was up and I felt something very different. I actually felt really good. I felt as if I had achieved something, I had brought my body to the absolute limits and I had survived it. In fact I actually felt amazing after it.
Right after class I signed up for a month of classes and after this, I’ll most definitely take out a membership. After trying gyms, walking, running, sports, fitness DVDs and anything else that claimed to aid weight loss or well being, I feel I have found something which works for me and it will probably work for you too. It is definitely something I can see myself doing for years to come, the benefits are amazing, for relaxation and for weight loss. I am already seeing and feeling the benefits!
So if you have not tried yoga or bikram, I highly recommend starting today!
Photos c/o getfitneverquit.com, yogalicious.net