When my sister-in-law invited me to a bikram yoga session, I underestimated what I was getting myself in to. I had taken yoga numerous times but never bikram. The moment I entered the yoga room, the heat gave me a warm or rather hot welcome. After 10 minutes I was ready to quit. My mind and body was not prepared for bikram. After completing just the breathing exercise, I felt dizzy, dehydrated and the heat was becoming unbearable. With the door in sight I started to approach. Little did I know leaving the room was prohibited because it removes energy from the room. I had no choice but to commit myself even if I had to crouch in child’s pose the entire time. This was my first experience practicing bikram yoga but was definitely not my last.
Bikram yoga is a series of 26 hatha yoga poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a heated room for 90 minutes. Bikram is considered hot yoga but not all hot yoga can not be considered bikram. The name “bikram yoga” was coined by its creator, Bikram Choudhury. During a weight training accident, Choudhury injured his knees and was told by doctors that he would never walk again. With the help of his yoga guru, Bishnu Ghosh, Choudhury practiced bikram yoga and was able to heal his knees and walk again.
“A lot of people get confused thinking yoga(bikram) is some crazy out there thing,” says Christopher Morrison, who has been teaching yoga at BikramYogaRVC (Rockville Center) for four years. “We are still doing hatha yoga poses, the same poses that you would do in another studio but this is done in a heated room.”
A heated room of 105 degrees to be exact. I know you are probably wondering why anyone would work out in a 105 degree room; however, there is a method to the madness. “The heat helps loosen up the body a little bit quicker so that you can practice the postures, go deeper into the postures without the risk of injuries,” says Morrison.
The heat warms the muscles to make them loose, stretchable and flexible. The heat also helps to give the body a great detox, allowing your body to sweat and rid itself of toxins in the process. It is important to refuel and replenish the body by drinking plenty of water and maintaining a nutritious diet.
People of all ages and medical histories can practice yoga. You just have to listen to your body even if you have to perform modifications until you can master the pose. I am speaking from experience; I practiced bikram yoga for a month after my first experience. The more I committed my mind to the practice, my body no longer noticed the heat. It adapted. Within weeks I was able to do poses I would never dear attempt before.
While hydration and a nutritious diet are essential, so is breathing. Breathing as you inhale and exhale can extend your stretch and help you experience the pose deeper.
You do not have to start with mental endurance but you will build it, as well as the physical endurance with more and more practice. According to Morrison, the more you come, the stronger that you’ll be in the room even if you do one out of the 26 poses.
As long as you commit your mind, body and breathing to yoga you will reap the benefits. Your body will look and feel younger and your skin will glow. Yes, I did mean glow and not bake.
I challenge you to try it. The worse that can happen is someone in the class might become flatulent in the heated room. I suggest you sit by the door in the event that occurs. Oh how my memory serves me well.