After many years of talking about Bikram Yoga, and saying -oh I really should try it- and things like that, I have actually been. I have done a couple of hot yoga classes in various places but this was the real thing. With the studio being designed specifically for Bikram it is very hot (37-41 degrees) and I was surprised by the carpet on the floor but then I realised that if it was a hard floor then there would be puddles! You sweat before you even start to move.
It was a busy mixed class of about forty people, maybe seven of them Bikram virgins and quite a few more on only their second class. I was at the Bikram Studio just off the Haarlemmerstraat, Amsterdam. They have a full schedule and the teacher, who also manned the desk and explained the rules and regs patiently over and over to the new comers, was younger and much less scary than the terrifying Bikram teachers in the legends (!!!) I discovered later his name was Kasper Van Den Wijngaard and he won the Rotterdam Asana Championships. Click here to check out the video.
I knew more or less what was coming having pondered over the set sequence on the internet many times. There are some quirky poses in there and a few classics. Like each different yoga style it has its own idiosyncrasies. Click here for a look at the sequence so you know what to expect (you scroll down to see it and can click on each pose for more details). You do each pose twice. Even though the first class is meant to be the hardest I didn’t not spin out as much as I thought I would, but I have done a lot of hard yoga and I love saunas, so I had an advantage. The lady in front of me did not feel well at all – it was her second class and she spent quite a lot of it kneeling down. She wanted to leave and the teacher told her as nicely as possible that she couldn’t (it is not allowed to leave during the class – you must stay for the entire hour and a half – even if you just sit and breathe) and reassured her that she would be fine. It would be interesting to know how she felt afterwards and if she goes back again.
It is a bit of fun and I would recommend you give it a go even just to try the ‘12 euros for two classes’ beginners offer. To give yourself the best possible chance of enjoying it make you are well hydrated and not too tired – it is pretty hardcore. There are no physical adjustments (everyone is very sweaty – would you want to touch them?). If you have lower back or knee problems be extra careful. Don’t get carried away in the heat of the moment and do something you will regret later – especially watch that evil sit up.
Would I go back? Well I am going back for my second class (you have to take it within a week) and am looking forward to it. I won’t be buying a multiple class card but it is a reasonable price if you do decide to make Bikram yoga your regular practice. If you are trying to eat healthier, drink less alcohol or stop smoking it could help as after sweating out all those toxins you really don’t want to put any back. Many people’s lives have been changed for the better through practising Bikram. At 15 euros for a drop in it is pricey and my first choice would always be Svaha Yoga but if Bikram fitted into my schedule I would definitely pop in from time to time.
Since I wrote the review above I have done more hot yoga and really enjoyed it and had a lot of energy afterwards. If you suffer from water retention or bloating hot yoga could help you feel a bit more normal – it really works for me. I have also spoken to someone who found that after the initial energy buzz she got when she started to practice Bikram, it started to make her very tired. If you want to know more check out the Hot Yoga Doctor; Gabrielle’s website has the answer to every hot yoga question imaginable.
For an alternative view from Shakti Mhi, who I did my teacher training which, check http://www.pranayogacollege.com/writing/hot-yoga.php Thanks to Kara for reminding me of this article.