I spent 90 minutes in the depths of hell. I mean, I finally tried Bikram Yoga, and I almost died.
This summer is supposed to be all about stepping out of my comfort zone, trying new things, and getting back to the basics in order to prepare for Marathon Training season. I wanted to finally try Bikram Yoga after considering it for two long years! Some of you may be asking yourself what’s Bikram. Bikram is a form of yoga that goes through a series of 26 poses including 2 breathing exercises, while in a room heated to over 100 degrees for 90 minutes! It’s supposed to stretch and detoxify your body while healing and promoting blood flow to all your organs and tissues, as well as other benefits.
We went to the Bikram Yoga studio in New Orleans, and this is how my experience went:
I went to the Saturday Morning 8am class with my adventure buddy. We got there around 0745 because we wanted to make sure we had time to sign up before class started. We went with the intentions to sign up for the 30-day trial: 30 days unlimited for $39.
The young lady who was teaching the class was working the front desk and asked us if we ever tried Bikram before. When we told her no, she scoffed a bit and told us she was going to sign us up for the one time drop in class. Well, that was immediately discouraging, and she probably could tell by the look I was giving her because she then backtracked and explained. She wanted us to try the class, “because not everyone likes hot yoga”, and if we liked it she told us we could upgrade to the 30-day trial package. Also, I feel like it’s worth saying that with the trial package they sign you up for the membership of $99/month; which you can cancel 15 days prior if you don’t like your experience.
Hot does not adequately describe the temp of this room
Once we were signed up, we entered the room…it was hot, it was really hot. The instructor recommended we go to the right side of the room, as newbies, where it wasn’t as close to the vents and not as hot…IT WAS STILL HOT!!! I’ve done Power Yoga in a heated room, but it did nothing for preparing me for this! It reminded me of being in a sauna. It was dry hot heat with no moisture in the air. I started sweating as soon as I entered the room. Just laying out my mat and towels caused the sweat to start pouring down my face!
Class started with the first of two breathing exercises. That breathing exercise alone had me questioning what I got myself into! I don’t know what it was about the pose that caused my heart rate to get going and made me feel like I was doing HARD work, but it did (Click here to see all of the poses)! They aren’t all easy poses by any means. Some of them I couldn’t get into and had to take an easier variation or “beginners” pose. None of the poses were new to me, I’ve seen them all before in different yoga classes.
Bikram differs from yoga in the flow between poses. Traditional yoga takes you on a continuous flow of poses, moving from one to the next. Bikram does a pose and kind of comes back to a resting position before moving on to the next pose. I love yoga because of the flow of going from one pose to the next, like you’re building throughout class.
I started to die
After the first three poses, about thirty-minutes into class, I needed my first break. Before class started, the instructor told us it was ok to sit down if we needed to, but not to leave the room and come back in; because of the temperature differences between the room and lobby, it wouldn’t be good on our bodies. My butt was putting some serious consideration into finding the restroom to vomit, but I stayed. I merely sat down on my mat.
I was doing great, it was hot, and I was dripping sweat; but I became extremely dizzy and nauseous as we started the fourth pose, Eagle pose. At this moment I went to grab a drink of water, and could you believe it – the instructor fussed at me, “we don’t drink water while we are in poses”. Oops, my bad, sorry I was dying and trying not to pass out in the middle of your class (I didn’t say that, but I thought it as I sat my butt down like a scolded child)!
It wasn’t all bad
What I truly appreciated about the instructor is she knew all of our names. There was only about 6-8 of us in the room, but she used all of our names throughout the class. It made the class more personal, “Good job Ebony, now go deeper”.
Even though I found myself dizzy, I was enjoying the deep stretches! I felt like my joints were opening up, and all of the sweating felt like my body was sweating out all of the bad things. When the class moved on to the next pose I tried to jump back in. When I stood up the entire room became red and splotchy. I knew for sure I was about to take a swan dive and embarrass myself! Fortunately, I quickly sat back down and that did not happen! I waited one more pose and got back in it.
Oh wait, still dying
After that, I was good until after the 8th pose. This pose required us to separate our legs and stretch downward while attempting to put the crowns of our head on the mat (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose). It was when I stood up from this pose that I became dizzy again, probably from the blood flow to my head! Each time I was dizzy I would just sit down for a second until I regained composure, and then I hopped right back in where the class was at. My bestie never once got dizzy or needed a break. She gracefully completed each pose and killed it the entire class! Honestly, I think I was the only one struggling there, and that’s fine!
What do you mean that was only the first half?!
The second half of the class consisted of the second breathing exercise and lying down poses, which was heaven for me! Never during class did I feel bad for needing to take a moment to sit down. Ultimately, everyone goes at their own pace. Even in traditional yoga you’re taught to go to child’s pose if you ever need a moment or do not wish to complete a flow or pose.
Ultimately, I think the two issues I had were: (a) Not breathing deeply through all the poses. I found myself taking short choppy breaths when I was going deep into stretches. When I should have been taking long deep breaths to feed my muscles oxygen. (b) The heat was simply not something I was used to doing that kind of work in. When I run during the summer, I try to run before sunrise or at sunset. Running at the peak heat of day has never fared well for me!
Also, going to a class like this dehydrated can cause you problems. I typically make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated for my runs, but I feel like every ounce of fluids I had in my body was sweated out!
After class, we spent a few moments talking to the instructors. They mentioned eating a snack before morning classes can help out with the dizziness. I had a banana before going into the studio, and I honestly felt like that made me more nauseous when I did get dizzy. One thing that rubbed me wrong: after class I asked the instructor to upgrade me to the trial month, and she told me if I decided to come back again I could just do it on the next visit.
Even though she congratulated us on surviving our first class, I felt like this was her way of saying she didn’t think we were coming back. Or, perhaps, she just didn’t want to have to ring me up for another purchase. Regardless, I do plan on going back again. The class was hot as Satan’s living room, but I felt great afterwards. I felt rejuvenated, hungry, and energized.
A second wind
Even though I told myself I was heading home to shower and fall asleep on the sofa, I ended up going to brunch with the bestie; home to shower, and ended up washing and deep conditioning my hair; spent time google chatting my sister; and sat down to write this post to share with all of you! It’s already 6pm and I feel like I’ve had a great relaxing Saturday.
I would like to incorporate Bikram in to my Marathon Training schedule, which starts in two days! Bikram can help me work on my flexibility, posture, range of motion, balance, and stamina. There is something about challenging your body in a heated room for 90-minutes that helps build up your mental stamina in addition to your physique. And I truly feel like spending 90-minutes here helped detox my body. You should give it a try to tell me about your experience, and if you already have tried it let me know what you think about it!