I don’t consider it a strong class unless I finish it with a “fuck-my-life” type of mantra.
Playing tennis for nearly all my life, I consider Bikram a very unexpected twist in my life. I hadn’t considered myself a viable candidate for this activity. I was a believer that unless you vomit at the end of any sports sesh, it was not worthy and you did not give it your 100 %. It all started this year in January when one of my friends suggested visiting one of the many Yoga studios in Amsterdam. During that time I was just finishing my master thesis while working full time. I needed to relax, unwind and most of all I needed the heat. Amsterdam is a vicious place in January. It’s cold, it’s dark, full of dementors. Expecto Patronum, voila here we are walking into the studio.
The first studio we went to smelled like old socks and there was a lot of “Lulu-Lemon-chics with buns of steel and even more Lulu-Lemon pals with non existing buns of steel”. I would strongly suggest checking out multiple studios for Bikram yoga, before you commit to one. Some studios will not even allow you to use a shower gel or any kind of cosmetic product, since Mother Nature wants us to be all gross. Sure. Next, you have to be comfortable with the room, the crowd, and the instructor. Some studios will provide you with a free mat and a towel. Some will not, therefore I would advise to buy your own mat and towel on Amazon or your local Yoga shop. Don’t buy equipment that is too expensive . For a dress code I would suggest something similar to what you see in music videos of Fifth Harmony or a basic-bitch-monday-outfit which is ultimately leggings and a sports bra. Do not appear with your home-alone-eating-eggs-with-ketchup tee because you won’t like it. You will be dripping in your own sweat. In the best case scenario.
Bikram yoga class consists of set sequences of 26 postures within 90 minutes in a room that is heated up to 40 degrees Celsius. Each pose has to be executed twice. I also like the fact that you get into it quite fast. All you need to do is to listen to the instructor and watch here and there what others do. By the third or fourth class the sequence will become clear to you. I have only found a few scientific articles on Bikram yoga but it has a lot of advocates behind like Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Demi Moore and Andy Murray (what?). Research says that people who completed a short-term yoga trainings showed an increased deadlift strength and lower back flexibility. Bikram also modestly decreased body fat and produced beneficial changes in mental health. *1 The last one is the crucial one. I don’t feel an unstoppable urge to punch somebody in their throat every time they chew an apple anymore. But we will discuss that some other time. Furthermore, research shows that Bikram yoga positively affects the psychological and physical health.** OMG what more do we need. It’s like Prozac on steroids. Actually that sounds horrible. Don’t take Prozac and steroids at the same time.
The bottom line is, there is nothing better than sweating in a room with approximately 30 mentally unstable people. What strikes me the most about Bikram Yoga is that finally you don’t have to compete with other people? Say Whaaat? For me, quite impossible at the beginning. Suffering from a “former-athlete” syndrome I am used to compare myself with those around me and evaluate my position in a group. Which at the end is also a substantial factor when doing sports at high level. You have to compare yourself with others to make an evaluation of what you doing and make corrections. Yes, you can compete with yourself here by trying to make each and every pose better than the last time but nobody keeps score, counts games or time you.
“So fucking let it go and stop it now. Just feel your body, sweat like hell, and forget about winning for 90 minutes.”
How much will it cost you?
The class itself could range from 15,- Eur to 20,- Eur, depending on the city and the studio. I live in Amsterdam and the most of the classes are around 15,- Eur per session. Once you get bananas about it, the smart thing to do is to buy an unlimited subscription or a 10-entry card. It will save you tons of money.
Mats will typically cost you about 15,- Eur to 60,- Eur, depending on the manufacturer.
Mat towels will cost you at that same price.
Sexy outfits could also range from 20,- Eur to 150,- Eur.
A short list of things NOT to DO in Bikram Yoga
Do not drink a gallon of water before the class (one glass is fine)
Do not breathe with your mouth open
Do not wear baggy clothes or any WHAM! T-shirts
Do not wipe the sweat
Do not eat 1 hours before a class
Do not go in the front row if you are a newbie (Yeah I know. It sucks to be in the back row. But this is just for now okay?)
Do not talk in class
Try not to go to the bathroom during the class
Do not close your eyes in Shavasana (unless it is the last one)
I would suggest going at least three times a week for a period of one month to feel its first impact and to feel hooked. If you have problems with falling asleep then schedule your class later in the evening, you will fall asleep like a baby. I do not recommend to go after a night out and by a night out I mean having 20 shots of vodka while singing “ I’m only gonna break your heart” by Taio Cruz. A little hangover is fine I’d say it might even help you feel better because you will sweat that vodka out.
If you have any other questions regarding Bikram please DO hesitate to call me.
* Tracy, B. L., & Hart, C. E. (2013). Bikram yoga training and physical fitness in healthy young adults. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,27(3), 822-830.
**Hewett, Z. L., Ransdell, L. B., Gao, Y., Petlichkoff, L. M., & Lucas, S. (2011). An examination of the effectiveness of an 8-week bikram yoga program on mindfulness, perceived stress, and physical fitness. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness, 9(2), 87-92.