For many years, I was a ballet dancer, training 5 days per week during elementary, middle, and high school. I vividly remember several of my ballet instructors not allowing the air conditioning to go on in the studio during the warmer months, despite the massive amounts of sweat rolling down the backs and faces of us dancers partaking in class.
Something about “not good for the muscles…” is all I can remember hearing as their explanations. While I resented it then and wish that I could have been cooler and more comfortable, I know now that these ruthless ballet masters had the right thing in mind!
Following my years of dance, after stopping mid-high school, I began to practice yoga. After a few years of intermittent practice of Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga (which I still love and practice), I stumbled upon a specific type of yoga that was new to me, Bikram Yoga, founded by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury.
This stumbling happened during a business trip to San Antonio, Texas, where I was spending week after week in the same hotel, forced to exercise in the same boring and limited gym. Entirely bored and stuck in a rut, I decided to explore other workout options in the area. Some googling lead me to Bikram Yoga, San Antonio – and this, surely, proved to be different!
How is it different?
- Heated Studio: Tying back to my point about the lack of air conditioning in ballet class, Bikram Yoga also heeds the notion of exercising in a warmer space. Except ‘warm’ is probably a bit of an understatement. To be precise about the degree of warmth, Bikram Yoga studios are ideally heated to the temperature of 105 degrees farenheit, with 40% humidity. Why??
- It prevents the body from overheating
- Protects the muscles for a deeper stretch
- Allows for detox of the body (opening the pores to let toxins out)
- Thinning of the blood to clear the circulatory system
- Increasing heartrate, contributing to your cardiovascular workout
- Improving strength by putting muscle tissue in the optimal state for reorganization
- Reorganizing the lipids (fat) in the muscular structur
- Series of poses: Bikram Yoga consists of a series of 26 poses that are practiced in the same order each class. Classes last for 1.5 hours. If you have taken other yoga classes before, you may notice that with each instructor and each class, the series of poses can vary. The sequence of poses in Bikram Yoga were created by Bikram to allow for the maximum oxygenation of your blood so that it reaches every last organ of your body allowing for restoration and detoxification.
Since taking my first Bikram Yoga class, and several thereafter, it has become one of my favorite forms of exercise. The heated room truly helped me to make the most of my practice, and the full 90-minute class allowed for total focus, a complete body workout, and the thorough warming and cleansing of the muscles, body, and mind.
After my first class, I expected to be sweaty, gross, and exhausted. And while the first two were true, the last was certainly not! I had a heightened sense of calm, an awakened mind, and a body grateful for everything I put it through.
While my first class was a bit of an uphill battle due to my being out of shape, it allowed me to reach for new challenges, and gradually grow into my practice and improved fitness at my own pace. Another beauty of Bikram yoga – it can be practiced at any level!
I encourage you to give this a shot, if you have not done so already; I can assure you that you will realize these benefits, and many more!
- Improved clarity of mind
- Weight loss
- Improved muscle tone
- Increased flexibility
- Detoxification of the liver
- Improved complexion
- Vibrancy, sense of well-being
If you seek a new, different workout experience and a safe, effective way to improve your body and mind in so many ways, look no further. This exercise is appropriate for individuals of all fitness levels. Seek out studios in your area today – you won’t regret it!