Bikram yoga is a type of hot yoga where you perform stretching, balancing, and breathing exercises during a 90-minute class in a room that is set to about 104 degrees with humidity at 40%. It’s similar to normal yoga, but you feel like you’re going to die the whole time.
A few weeks ago, a coworker of mine mentioned that she wanted to start doing hot yoga again (she had done it in college). Since I have fitness class curiosity, I was all about trying it out. So last week, another coworker of ours (who does normal yoga) joined us, and we all signed up for a week of Bikram yoga classes. We spent all morning on Wednesday hydrating (to help us not pass out), and we avoided food for 3 to 4 hours prior to the class start time (to help us not get sick).
When we got to the studio, we were greeted by an older man in tight blue speedo-like shorts, who ended up being our teacher. Considering we’re in a room heated to 100+ degrees, people don’t wear a lot, especially because you’re absolutely drenched in sweat and extra fabric isn’t the most pleasant. We opted for shorts/capris and workout tank tops – nothing that a trip to Old Navy can’t supply (which is what we did the day before…mwahaha).
So the 90-minute class commenced, and it wasn’t so bad – sure, it was hot, but it was tolerable at that point. As we started doing more of the poses and spending more time in the hot, hot room, it became more and more difficult. I had read to always breath through your nose because it helps you stay calm, which I 100% agree with. At certain points in the class, I couldn’t tell if oxygen was even coming in and out because it was so hot.
The three of us persevered through the first two days of classes, and then we decided we didn’t want to die. Bikram/hot yoga claims the benefits of detox, strength, flexibility, and healing. However, when we did more research on Friday, we found numerous articles about the dangers and how it’s not as beneficial as you might think. (Apparently walking briskly burns just as many calories? We definitely made a trip to Target on the third day to replace our hot yoga session. Bahaha)
It’s hard to believe what is true when it comes to the benefits and the dangers because you can find articles arguing both sides. However, we concluded that 1. the heat can’t possibly be good for your body because feeling dizzy and sick are both signs of heat exhaustion (in the second class, I felt like I was burning up and got a bit nervous) and 2. the dude who started Bikram yoga seems to be an extremely shady character, so we didn’t really want to support that.
Despite our feelings towards hot yoga, there’s no doubt it’s a trend in the fitness community. So if you decide to try it out,
Advice for Hot Yoga
- Drink as much water as you can in the day leading up to the class. It’s so important for helping your body fight off dehydration.
- Don’t fight the sweat. I read beforehand that wiping sweat away is kind of pointless because your body will just signaled to produce even more. However, when it starts going up your nose in poses and getting in your eyes, I definitely had to wipe it away.
- Don’t wear glasses. I almost forgot to change into contacts one day, and I can’t imagine a super sweaty face would make wearing glasses very pleasant.
- Bring a beach towel to put over your mat to soak up all the sweat. In our last class, it sounded like there was a pipe leaking because of how much dripping you could hear, but then I discovered it was just a lot of sweaty people sweating on an already-soaked towel-covered mat.
- Focus on your breathing. When you’re really feeling the heat, focus on slowly inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
- Take it easier if you’re feeling dizzy. I was physically able to do all the poses, but at about the same point in every class, I had to half-ass a couple poses because they would make me dizzy when combined with the heat. Definitely worth not passing out.
I have never taken a legitimate yoga class before – I’ve only done the P90X yoga – so this was that much more interesting for me. (It was an interesting feeling to go outside to 80-degree San Diego weather and feel like we’re cooling off.) Even though we decided to not continue past the two-day mark, I’m happy I tried it out. It was one of the many workout classes that intrigued me. As for now, I think we’re going to explore different, less dangerous fitness classes, like regular yoga and barre.
So I should have more adventures to share on here in the future!
Have a happy Labor Day, and I hope you get to enjoy a day off like we do!!
Have you ever tried hot yoga before?
What types of fitness classes have you done? Favorites?
How will you be spending Labor Day? Going to a BBQ? We’re planning to go to a Padres game because we need to use up tickets before baseball season is over. Tri-tip nachos, here I come!