17 December 2010

Bikram Yoga: That's Hot! One Man's Testimonial on the Latest Health Craze

Not being one to miss out on anything that’s “all the rage,” I recently tried Bikram Yoga. And I’m hooked.

Profile: I’m 40-something, reasonably fit, tried yoga a few times several years ago, and have a few aches and pains from old sports injuries. I don’t stretch much but know that I should.

I also despise the cold. The favorite part of my “workout” is typically the sauna, particularly in the winter. So the thoughts of clearing my mind and sweating out some toxins and getting in some good stretches in a 105 degree room seemed like a great idea. Maybe meet some interesting new people too.

Also, being known to throw back a few beers with my buddies from time to time and being a sucker for Chubby Tacos on 9th St., I figured Bikram was a great way to shed some calories reasonably painlessly and efficiently (as in not running, which I hate). I heard rumors that one could drop as many as 900 calories in a single 90-minute session.

A swanky new studio opened up not far from where I live in a converted warehouse next to a bunch of art studios. I signed up for the 7-day trial.

Like many newbies to Bikram I’m guessing, mid-way through the first session, I honestly thought I was going to die right there on my mat. But I survived.

The session was intense and difficult. Note: 90 minutes can seem like a VERY long time. The heat was almost overwhelming, even to a heat miser like me. I got home around 9 PM, ready to collapse in bed. I slept like a baby.

But here’s the thing: I was fully expecting to wake up the next morning stiff and sore. I wasn’t. I felt great!

I’ve now endured three sessions. I plan on going every day that I can during this 7-day trial period, mostly because I’m cheap and I want to make sure I get my money’s worth, but also because I am totally addicted to it. Seriously, three sessions later, I feel like a new man.

I still can’t do all the postures properly, but I’m making progress. Each time I get a little closer.

I feel energized and alert. And, I think it has positively affected my appetite. I don’t feel as hungry as I did before I started (not sure if there is empirical evidence to support the correlation, but I can’t think of any other reason I’m not craving tacos from Chubby’s).

The meditative part is nice too… I have a lot of clutter bouncing around the lobes these days so it's nice to unwind and clear my brain and be grounded and focused, if only for an hour-and-a-half.

And, yes, there are some interesting people there I’d like to get to know. Like Carmen, my first instructor, who is visiting from Chile. Note: if you are totally unfamiliar with yoga, it may be smart to find an instructor who speaks the same language you do (at least until you figure out what's going on).

Here’s a nice touch: When the final postures are done and the lights are dimmed and you’re resting comfortably on a mat in a puddle of your own sweat, slowly trying to convince your body to peel itself off the floor and head to the locker room… along comes the instructor delivering an ice-cold, wonderfully (mint-ish) scented wash cloth for your head, which is heavenly. And Ice Pops await you in the lobby on the way out the door (not sure if this is standard Bikram procedure or just a little something extra here at Durham Bikram).

Seems like small things, but to be honest, it’s become my motivation for getting through the last 30 minutes or so. Mantra: Cold, minty wash cloth, ice pop. Cold, minty wash cloth, ice pop….

Camel pose
What is Bikram Yoga?

Bikram Yoga is widely regarded as the most intense type of yoga. It involves 26 postures and two breathing exercises in 90 minutes, all performed in a room heated to 105 degrees, facilitated by a certified instructor. Each pose is done twice with a Savasana (rest pose) between each.

What’s going on during the Bikram Yoga session?

· Heavy sweating helps detoxify the body

· As the blood thins, the circulatory system is cleared

· The output of cells which fight infection is increased

· The heart rate is elevated

· Weight loss is made easier because the muscles are warmed and can burn fat more easily

What are the benefits of Bikram Yoga?

· Many bodily systems and functions – digestion, respiration, endocrine, lymphatic, and elimination – work in better harmony

· Balance, flexibility and coordination are increased

· Energy is increased

· Appetite is normalized (likely decreased)

· Cravings for unhealthful foods is decreased or eliminated

· Risk for sports injury is reduced

Yes, I admit it; I am addicted to Bikram Yoga. And I highly encourage everyone to give it a try. Couple pointers for the first timer: don’t eat for a few hours before the session and drink plenty of water beforehand. Also, just know that your clothes will be sopping wet almost immediately; so wear something appropriate or you will be miserable.


Bikram Yoga Durham

1 comment:

Chelsea Goodyear said...

Great review Mister. I too have decided to try this "craze" and have found myself also addicted. At our studio, in Duncan, BC they have provided a 2 week unlimited 'trial' for $35. So of course I figured I would attempt to go as often as I could. (Also they suggest you come back as soon as you can after your first session, and that your first three will get you into the groove.) Better appetite for better food, less insomnia, no pms, mild depression has disappeared... and it has been 4 sessions in 5 days so far. Did I mention I am addicted. Looking forward to tonights session!

BTW, I came across your blog not 2 minutes after my husband verbally expressed interest, I think you have been a good source of encouragement, so thank you for that.