Today I jump-started my workout routine for the third time this year… unfortunately when I’m busy with school, work, and everything else that seems to pop up, my fitness life takes the back burner. But unlike the gym, running, and other work outs I’ve tried, the one I keep coming back to is Bikram Yoga (for those of you unfamiliar with the practice, here’s some more info). For anyone that’s never heard of bikram, or perhaps those that have heard of it but are skeptical of trying it, I’ve reflected on my experience with it thus far in hopes that I might inspire at least one person to give it a shot. I should add – the first class is the hardest class, so don’t be discouraged if you try it and feel like you suck. This happens to everyone no matter how good of shape you think you may be in. Contorting every muscle in your body in a room heated to 105 F + humidity is something that takes major getting used to.
It’s a Lifestyle: I’ll be honest, practicing bikram yoga isn’t as simple as plugging a 30-minute workout in your day between classes and meetings. Because of the excessive amount of heat and sweating that takes place, preparation and recovery for a bikram class takes all day. You need to make sure you’ve had enough to drink before the class (it’s recommended that you have way more than the daily dose of 8 glasses), and you need to spend a lot of time eating healthy foods and drinking even more water when the class is done, for the rest of your day. And because you will literally sweat from every pore in your body, you HAVE to shower afterwards (dry shampoo and some deodorant can’t save you here). Obviously everyone’s experience is different, but these are common things most people face when practicing. And you’ll find that you need to tailor the bikram lifestyle to suit your own personal needs as well – for instance, because I am so headache-prone I have to drink electrolytes supplements both during and immediately after the class to prevent any migraines popping up for the rest of the day. Some people may find that this kind of workout is too much of a commitment, and I can see that. But I love the bikram lifestyle because it makes me a more healthful person. Whenever I get into the bikram groove I find myself eating a lot healthier, drinking more water instead of coke, and remembering to take my vitamins.
You’ll Amaze Yourself: Today I went to my bikram class with an immense amount of fear. I’ve experienced the “first class blues” one too many times to count, so this is why I recommend getting into a groove with the classes and stick with it. The more regularly you practice, the easier the classes will become. But anyways, today I showed my fear who’s boss. I made it through the whole class without taking a break, and the room no longer felt that hot to me. Although there were other physical aspects I struggled with – I’ve lost a lot of my flexibility, I was amazed by my mental ability to convince myself that my fear was all in my head. And that’s another wonderful thing about the bikram lifestyle – it helps you realize that a lot of the things holding you back in life are all mental illusions. When practicing, you’ll constantly be fighting the urge to wipe the sweat away from your eyes… but one day you’ll realize that you don’t have that urge anymore, because you’ve trained yourself to focus your thoughts on perfecting the pose instead. This can be applied to so many other areas of your life, like when working on an assignment or studying, I find that I can focus on the task at hand much better.
The Workout: Obviously if I’m endorsing a fitness regimen, the workout better be good too – and trust me, it is. This workout is like something you’ve never done before. Each pose focuses on a different muscle group, and you’ll be surprised at how such simple movements and stretches can make you feel that much stronger. Personally, I feel like my abs, back, and thighs are worked the most while practicing, but literally no muscle goes untouched during this 90 minute workout – see for yourself. The heat also does wonders for your body, I swear I feel 15 pounds lighter after every class. And as for physical results… well I don’t focus a lot of my attention on how my body looks, but I’ve gotten to know people who have lost extreme amounts of weight from practicing.
Literally noone is incapable of practicing bikram yoga. I’ve seen elderly men and women in their 60’s and 70’s that can do some of the poses better than I can. I strongly encourage everyone to try it; and although it’s a huge challenge to get started, the results are incredible and I’ve never looked back. So let me know if you decide to give it a try! I’d love to hear about your experiences, and I have a lot of my own that I’d love to share as well.