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Bikram Yoga

weather: raining
outside: 16.1°C
mood: relaxed
I went to my first session of Bikram Yoga tonight.

Bikram yoga is where you're doing yoga stretches, breathing and poses in a room heated to 38°C (100F). There's also a light scent... lavendar? cinnamon? sage? tea tree oil? or some floral scent with a grassy/herbal scent.

The yoga, itself, is no more strenuous than other types of yoga. You don't do Sun Salutations, but you do plenty of other poses that you would normally find in a Hatha yoga session, for example. Tree pose, Warrior pose, Cobra pose, etc.

But 90 minutes of that and it feels like a really gruelling workout. I heard that people either really like Bikram yoga or they really hate it. For days beforehand, I was hoping that I could handle it and it wouldn't make me throw up. I really like yoga to begin with, but the heated aspect of it sounded like exactly the type of thing I needed.

I did make it all the way through. And I have never sweat that much in my life. I was completely drenched and everything was soaked through. Yeah, I'm normally a Lazy Slug Princess Supreme™, so this was absolutely fantastic.

The instructor almost never stops talking through the whole thing. Like a drill sergeant, only much kinder and gentler, but she still pushed me right up to my limits. It was my first time, so she said that dizziness is normal. If I couldn't keep up or if I got dizzy or nauseous, just lay on my back in the corpse pose. And it was okay to stay that way for the whole time. The measure of success is to make it through the whole session without having to leave the room, regardless of how much or how little I do in the room. As long as you're even in the heated room sweating, I think you would have gotten something out of it.

For an 1800h session, I had a vegetarian sandwich with extra avocado at about 1330h and had lots of water during the day. And I brought a huge 1L bottle of water with me. I sipped on it during the class, but I didn't feel too well after each sip, so I stopped.

I was a bit hungry afterwards and slightly headachy. I finished the rest of my water on the way home, had more plain water at home and I feel better now.

Next time:

  • No jewellery on yoga nights.
  • Either just wear flip-flops to work or go barefoot when I get there. Having to futz with shoes and flip-flops is too much.
  • I only needed one towel, plus my small face towel.
  • Fill my water bottle about ¾ full and stick it in the freezer the night before.
  • Wear less clothes. I was wearing altogether way too much clothing... even though I already thought I was nearly naked. Must get actual yoga clothes this weekend.
  • Get a yoga mat strap.
  • Optionally get a better gym bag.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
Good for you for trying Bikram yoga. I could never do that one because I can't handle heat. I don't think I would last the class.

I did try Ashtanga yoga (aka "power yoga") a few years ago, and that was okay, but I didn't keep up with it. Power yoga goes through the standard yoga moves, but in a continuous pace with very little pausing between positions. I found it to be a good workout. I've never tried traditional yoga.
Jul. 17th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
I told Will that I didn't think he'd live through it =D

I'm going to try to go every Tuesday and Thursday. I might do Monday and Thursday if T/Th is too close together.
Jul. 20th, 2006 01:05 am (UTC)
I'd love to hear more about your continued experiences with Bikram. There's a studio in Bellingham and I am very interested in taking classes there, although I have never taken any real yoga class (the yoga P.E. class I had in high school barely counts).
Jul. 20th, 2006 02:30 am (UTC)
I think it's a really really good exercise provided that you're not allergic to lavendar or have reactions to any smells that might be used in aromatherapy.

If you do try it, you should try at least two classes, a few days to a week apart. The first time will feel extra strange just because most North Americans are not used to those kinds of conditions (doing those kinds of things at those temperatures). After the second class, you should have a good idea if you want to continue or not.

Try to get yourself well hydrated for a week beforehand. I usually drink a lot of water anyway, but I was still fairly dehydrated after my first class. You'll want 2L of water over the course of 18 hours (or so) which is about a whole pop bottle's worth of fresh water. But you should watch the water intake and make sure that your urine is still pale yellow. It's not supposed to look like water. And if you drink too much too fast, you make your kidney's panic. This will just flush all the water out without giving your body enough time to process the toxic waste to flush out with the water.

On the day of the classes, eat something light about 3-4 hours before, like a salad or a vegetarian sandwich. If you get hungry just before class, have some plain or saltine crackers (like soup crackers) and wash it down with some water.

You'll want a yoga mat of your own if you're going to continue with it regularly, but for the first few classes they should have mats available for loaners. You'll want a large towel and a small face towel - maybe two small face towels if you know you sweat a lot.

Bring a large water bottle (like a 1L). Like I say, I'd fill it 3/4 with fresh filtered water and stick it in the freezer the night before. Then when you get to the studio, they should have a water dispenser. Fill it up to the top with water. I just brought cold water with me the first day and it got all warm and stale. I knew I had to keep drinking water, but I got kinda queasy after each sip I took, so that was no good.

You're going to want a complete change of clothes. You're not going to be able to wear anything you have on after you're done. Dri-fit or dry-fit wear is great but still optional. Don't go without a small jacket. You don't want to step into the cool air-conditioned-ness after sweating that much in 86F temperatures.

Personally, I would go by yourself for the first few classes. The instructors are usually very nice about helping new people and it's better to let them be able to focus on you instead of you and a bunch of friends.

Going alone also helps your concentration and helps you develop the right attitude. It really isn't a group activity. When you're in the class, you should be focussed on your own progress and that's harder to do with a group of friends who are all newbies. It's better to be there and develop the sense that no one else is looking at you, how much you're sweating, what a mess you are and no one else cares how good or bad you do =)

I hope that helps a little... let me know if there was something specific you wanted to know. =)
Jul. 20th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
That's a lot of help, thank you!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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