Review – Bikram Yoga
I have been telling myself that I need to start building up my workouts in preparation for my races this summer, but I haven’t really added anything challenging up to this point. This weekend, I decided that it was time and I took my first Bikram Yoga class.
Bikram Choudhury began studying Hatha yoga at the age of four. His guru was Bishnu Ghosh. At age 12, Bikram was the youngest national yoga champion of India, holding the title three consecutive years. After his 3rd title, Bishnu encouraged Bikram to move on competitively. Bikram went on to pursue an athletic career as a marathon runner and an Olympic style weight lifter.
At age of 20, a weight lifting accident crushed his knee, leaving Bikram severely crippled. With the guidance of his guru, Bikram created his 26-posture series, which restored his health. He quickly established himself as an expert yoga teacher around the globe, opening schools throughout the East. Combining all that he learned from both Eastern and Western doctors and scientists at Tokyo University Hospital, Bikram perfected his comprehensive yoga system.
Bikram then tailored his technique for the Western person, specifically for the cultural problems of occupational stress, chronic overeating, poor posture, and a high stress lifestyle.
Bikram’s Yoga Class is a demanding series of 26 postures (asanas) and two breathing excises (pranayamas), which is suitable for all ages and levels of ability. Each posture stretches and strengthens specific muscles, ligaments, and joints needed for the next posture. The Bikram method also stimulates the organs, glands and nerves, moving fresh oxygenated blood through the body. Bikram designed this 90 minute program to deliver total health through the balancing and strengthening of every system in the body in order to prevent illness, injury, and limit the effects of aging. In addition, the series of postures combine skills of concentration, patience, determination, and self control, which are intended to increase mental clarity and reduce stress.
Bikram’s Yoga class is done in a hot room (105°F with 40% humidity) to warm your muscles, prevent injury, allow deeper stretching, and cleanse the body by flushing toxins.
I have taken many yoga classes and have done a wide variety of fitness activities, but this may be the hardest workout I have ever done. My instructor told me that the goal of my first class was simply to be able to stay in the room for the entire 90 minutes. I stayed in the room for the entire class and I was able to complete about 80% of the workout. She suggested that I could sit or lay down if I felt light-headed or nauseous. I didn’t have any problem with nausea, but there were a few times that I felt like I might pass out. Wiping away any sweat from your body is discouraged, which will be a challenge for me to get used to, but the euphoric feeling after the class is over certainly make the challenge worth it.
I signed up for an introductory special (unlimited yoga for 30 days) and I am going to take 3 classes each week. I will update my progress along the way.