I've been practicing various styles of yoga here in Phoenix for more than ten years. Several years ago my sister convinced me to try hot yoga so I did but never went back.
The instructor was demeaning and in my opinion reckless when he stood and bounced on my sister's thighs during supta vajrasana. As a person who wilts in extreme heat, prefers freedom to structure, and works to avoid unnecessary injury, Bikram Yoga did not resonate with me.
Recently, I've had the urge to give Bikram Yoga another go. Many people I admire, including Wayne Dyer, praise its positive effects. And after a summer of overindulgence I have been feeling that a good sweaty workout was just what my body wanted.
So, on Friday afternoon, I headed off to class at Bikram Yoga Phoenix, a Bikram studio I have heard only good things about and whose owner, Brooke Sterling, has appeared in Prevention Magazine.
For those of you not familiar, Bikram Yoga consists of series of 26 yoga poses and 2 breathing exercises done in a mirrored, carpeted room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.
The 90-minute program is designed to relax the muscles and heal and detoxify the body. Although, physically challenging, it is meant to be a complete mind-body workout appropriate for all ages and levels of ability.
This hot yoga class was everything I expected - challenging, hot, and incredibly sweaty - and more. The environment was friendly, inviting and uplifting - completely contrary to my first experience so many years ago.
Joy, our Bikram- certified instructor, expertly guided us through each pose, offering encouragement while providing important alignment instructions. Never did I feel pushed to reach beyond my limits.
For 90 minutes we breathed, stretched, balanced, twisted, and strengthened our bodies. At times the heat was oppressive and I couldn't perform all the poses for the intended duration. By final relaxation I felt completely depleted and walking out of the studio was unsure I would ever return.
After a hot shower, I still felt out of sorts with a slight headache but a couple big glasses of water seemed to cure what ailed me. Saturday I awoke energized and focused and by Sunday evening I was ready for another Bikram Yoga session.
It is too early to tell whether Bikram Yoga will become a regular part of my life. I intend to take several classes during the next two weeks since the Bikram Yoga Phoenix studio is currently offering an Introductory Special - 2 Weeks of Bikram yoga for $20 - an incredible bargain when you consider that most yoga classes around here cost $14 - $25 per session.
Tips for Heading Off to Your First Bikram Yoga Class
- You will need a mat, large towel to cover your mat, a face cloth or towel, and a bottle of water. Many Bikram yoga studios have these available for rent and purchase.
- Wear as little clothing as possible to allow your body to sweat effectively.
- Be sure to drink lots of water before class and after class and sip it during class to prevent dehydration. If you experience a headache or dizziness it may be a sign that you need to increase your fluid intake.
- Try not to eat anything for the two hours preceding class. It is hard to practice any form of yoga with a full stomach and this is especially true of Bikram yoga.
Bikram Yoga Studios in Phoenix and Scottsdale
If you live in Phoenix or Scottsdale there are several Bikram Yoga studios to choose from:
- Bikram Yoga - Paradise Valley
- Bikram Yoga - Phoenix
- Bikram Yoga - North Scottsdale
- Bikram Yoga - Downtown Scottsdale
Learn more about Bikram Yoga
Would you prefer a more gentle approach to yoga? I provide private and small group yoga sessions in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
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I sweat so much during my 90 minute Vinyasa class that I couldn't even entertain the notion of Bikram yoga, though I read about in Prevention and several of the yoga magazines I receive. I'd be afraid of passing out!
steve bickel (Yoga Video DVD and soon nutrition)
Bikram is intense. And over time the body adjusts. The muscles give off less and less heat (takes 2-3 months of several times per week). The sweat glands open more (takes about one month). And your muscles get stronger. So take it slowly and let the body adjust.