I’ve attended 12 Bikram Yoga classes so far this year. Bikram is the original “hot yoga” style where students work on a set series of 26 poses in a room heated to 105 degrees and 40% humidity for 90 minutes. I got a two-month membership at Bikram Yoga Summerlin through Groupon. Below are some random reviews of BYS and hot yoga.
I love the teachers. I’ve had classes with four different instructors, and they each have their own personality that clearly shows, and they’re all very good (remember, I say this as a professional teacher myself). Bikram yoga sometimes gets criticized for having a set script for teachers to follow, but they always still pause to help people who need encouragement or correction to their form. They usually have a decent sense of humor, too. In my most recent class, a new student felt she had to leave the room—the teacher let her rest, then invited her back in. When she returned, we all applauded. Things like that happen in these classes. It was great.
Others criticize hot yoga for promoting injury, but I don’t see it. Yes, the script and teachers push people, but good for them—in general, we’re all capable of far more than we give in life. The teachers try to be sensitive to the needs of individuals, but ultimately the responsibility for not overdoing it lies with each of us ourselves. I hurt myself twice in those twelve classes, and both times it was my own fault. Nobody at BYS will harass you if you need to sit down and rest.
The facility at BYS is terrific. The locker and shower room is clean and useful—the showers even have bottles of shampoo and shower gel on the walls. It can get crowded after a big class, but never uncomfortably so. I hope the women’s room is bit bigger than the men’s, though—most students in each class are female. If their room is the same size as ours, they must be packed in there pretty tight.
I spent the first three classes or so just trying to survive. After that, I started working on form and pushing myself a bit more. There are still poses I can’t do well, but there are poses that veteran teachers can’t do well, either. There’s a lot of benefit to be had from just trying your best.
My best classes have been the ones where I’ve focused on deep breathing the whole time. If your breath is deep and smooth, you do better. Maybe it’s because, if you’re working on breathing, your body doesn’t notice the torture poses it’s in.
I’ve also tried really listening to the teachers. It’s easy at first just to try to copy everybody else’s basic pose and tune out the teacher, but when he or she says to lift this or stretch that, the pose is much deeper and more beneficial if you actually try to do that. It’s harder, but worth it.
You should definitely clean your yoga mat at home after each class. Learn from my fail.
You should also probably avoid doing Bikram yoga shortly after giving blood. You will not do well. Learn from my fail.
Since starting Bikram yoga, I’ve doubled how far I can jog.
I have huge pores on my nose. They get so dirty that I remember one woman, when I was younger, used to squeeze my nose to clean all the dirt out of the pores. Yeah, yuck. Anyway, after my first yoga class, I noticed that the skin on my face was all perfectly clean and smooth. It’s happened after every class. Apparently, sweating that much is good for your skin.
Did yoga cure my bronchitis? I get it pretty badly once or twice a year. Antibiotics used to knock it out, but my body must have gotten used to those years ago. Lately I just have to suffer for a few months until it wears out. I was still coughing when I started Bikram yoga, but after two classes it was gone. Bikram focuses a lot on deep breathing, and I could tell right away that my lungs were filling up better. I don’t know if yoga cured my bronchitis, but I’ll tell you what—the next time I start coughing, I’ll be sure to go do a few Bikram yoga sessions. It’ll cost about the same as an office visit and prescriptions, and I expect I’ll see better results.
My experience so far has taught me a lot about yoga—I’ve done plenty of videos and read some books, but I never realized before that yoga isn’t just about balance and stretching, it’s also about compression. Yoga massages internal organs and eases blood and oxygen flow. Seems obvious now.
I think I’d like to be trained as a Bikram teacher someday. Looks like fun.
Critics also say Bikram Yoga is too expensive. It depends on what plan you buy and how often you use it. It’s probably about the same as any other gym. I’ll be watching their web site for specials to renew my membership—you should, too. BYS has a fantastic web site, by the way—definitely worth browsing.
In fact, BYS has been doing a free introductory class for new students at 3 PM on the first Saturday of each month. In March, that would be the 3rd. I highly recommend trying it. Get there early—it will fill up fast.
Here’s a clip from another Bikram studio in action, with some background: