Holy Bikram!

After the first time I tried Bikram Yoga a couple weeks ago I wanted to yell out "Holy Shit!" afterwards but in standard "namaste" form I blamed the intensity, sweat and emotion I was feeling on an incredible yoga technique created by Bikram Choudruy in India back in the 70's appropriately titled Bikram.

Bikram Choudruy then...
  Sessions run for exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.  It is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees and is the most popular form of hot yoga.
Bikram Choudruy now :)

The 26 postures above
I was told I would like Bikram because I like to sweat during my workouts and feel like I worked really really hard.  Basically when I leave I want to feel like I got my ass kicked and that's exactly what Bikram did.  The funny thing is I've been hooked ever since and definitely see myself building Bikram into my workout routine long term.  It feels so good to stretch everything out, detox my body and mind all while working to accomplish these postures that are not easy.  I recommend everyone give it a shot.  Anyone can do Bikram.  You don't have to be a Yogi or super flexible like I thought.  I think some cardiovascular stamina would help and a lot of will power and focus is key. 

Here are a few Q&A's for the newbies like me:

Where do I go?
Be sure and go to a certified Bikram Yoga studio.  You can find these studios from the Bikram Yoga Studio Locator tool which is found on the official Bikram Yoga website.  I have been going to Bikram Yoga Charleston.  There is a studio Downtown and in Mount Pleasant.  I absolutely love the studio and instructors plus they offer a lot of class options and price specials for newbies which is great.

What do I wear?
As little as possible!  Seriously.  You gotta throw the body image issues out the window!  It's 105 degrees.  You will thank me later.  I have only been wearing a sports bra and shorts to class.  When I leave class they are drenched.  I mean I could ring them out drenched so you really don't want to wear long pants or anything.  You won't be jumping around or anything so you don't have to worry about stuff moving around or shorts riding up.

Good Example
lululemon free to be bra
lululemon boogie short
I like lululemon gear because it lasts!  You are going to be washing this stuff as soon as you get home from the studio so that could be as much as twice a week.  Nothing is as durable as lululemon gear.  I know it's more expensive but for the quality and longevity, it's worth it.

What do I do with my hair?

You are going to be sweating a ton which I think now is obvious and lying down a lot in the different postures and resting periods.  You don't want your ponytail to get in the way.  You want to be able to lay your head flat on the ground as much as possible.  If you have long hair like me, a quick braid down the back is perfect.  Another option is to throw all your hair on top and do a top knot bun.  This is super easy and keeps it up and away from your face while letting your head lie flat.

Something like This

What do I bring?

You will need a yoga mat and a towel to put on top of your mat.  The towel keeps you from slipping from all that sweat!  My gym has plastic bags to put your towels in afterwards but you might want to bring something if it's not provided since your towel will be sopping wet after.  I wash my towel  and clothes immediately when I get home to keep them from molding or anything.  Don't leave your towel in your car or you will never get that smell out!

Image above: 1. Prosperity Yoga Mat, $19.29 | 2. Southwest Yoga Mat, $85 | 3. Magic Carpet Yoga Mat, $85 | 4. Flower of Life Yoga Mat, $21.59 | 5. Blue Medallion Yoga Mat, $21.59 | 6.Yoga Towel, $35 | 7. Neo-Baroque Yoga Mat, $22 | 8. Lululemon Mat, $68
I also bring a water bottle which you will want to make sure is full for class.
Makeup remover wipes for before class.  Getting sweaty mascara in your eyes in not fun.
A dry pair of clothes for after class is a must.
Lastly and my favorite part, I bring a coconut water for after class.  It fills you with electrolytes to give you some major lasting hydration that you are going to be dying for after class.

What do I expect?

Expect to feel initially overwhelmed by the heat.  It is natural and it's okay to take breaks and just breath.  The instructors recommend you just kneel on your mat if you need a minute.  Drink your water throughout and try to calm yourself and not think too much about the heat.

Expect to feel your heart racing and out of breath.  I was shocked the first time I did Bikram to feel my heart beating as fast as it does when I run sprints.  That's exactly what Bikram is like.  It's like running a sprint then taking a walk, running a sprint then taking a walk.  Over and over for 90 minutes.  Talk about a huge cardiovascular workout!  No more pounding my knees on the pavement with running.  I'll take this any day.

The breathing is another story.  I was so used to breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth with every workout I've ever done so learning to breath in and out of my nose only for 90 minutes was extremely tough.  I feel like I've finally got the hang of it and now I understand the instructor when she says control your breath and breath through the movements.  It's so important because your slow breathing in and out of your nose can relax you and keep you from getting too much adrenaline going like you do when you breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Adrenalin is not good for yoga, relaxation is key.

Expect to struggle with hitting the poses.  I was terrible the first time with no balance or focus.  I'm truly amazed at the balance, focus and flexibility I've gained in just two weeks.  It keeps me wanting to go back to do more and see the improvements continue.

Expect an overwhelming feeling of calmness and serenity when you finish.  I leave there feeling like a huge weight was lifted off my chest and shoulders and now I can just breathe.  It's a pretty amazing high.  I guess that's why they say you'll get addicted:)

All the Celebs love Bikram
Jenny McCarthy
Lady Gaga 
Jennifer Aniston

Beaucoup D'Amour,

1 comment:

  1. Glad you've discovered Bikram yoga! When I would come home with my sweaty clothes Nick would say, "I played high school football and have smelled some pretty funky stuff in locker rooms, but your sweaty yoga clothes is the worst thing I've ever smelled". I like to think it was the toxins leaving my body ;-)