When we say “Bikram,” you say: “Hot sweaty room with me falling all over the place; hard pass!” Or at least, that’s what the rest of the Women’s Health team said when then editorial assistant, now junior writer Michelle October invited them to a Bikram yoga class at Yoga Life. On her own, she braved the sweat and gave it a shot.
What Is It?
Bikram yoga is a set sequence of 26 moves, each one building on the one before it. It’s usually a 90-minute class and takes place in a heated room (40° Celsius).
What’s It For?
Other than its reported health benefits (detoxing, toning and core strengthening), it’s said to improve and develop your existing yoga practice and serves as a beginner’s stepping stone into yoga, because of the slower pace of the class.
WH’s Michelle October Tests It
I’ve done yoga before. In fact, I’m fast becoming obsessed with it. I’m a fan of the ease with which you can move through the class and the opportunity to challenge your body, minus the feeling of exertion you get when you’re on the treadmill or completing a set as fast as you can. Naturally, I leaped at the chance to try out a Bikram class. Whenever I hear Bikram being discussed, it’s either with a feeling of awe and disbelief (“You do Bikram? Wow!”) or it’s met with a degree of fear.
As it turns out, everyone is totally wrong. As a Vinyasa devotee, I’d rank Bikram as a much easier class: you can take your time and just stand there if you want, or you can turn things up a notch. Either way, there’s very little movement and the focus is more on settling yourself into one position (variations for the first-timer abound) and focusing on the “now-ness” of your practice.
I found that Bikram is a time for reflection, more than a time for working out, and any actual movements you’ll be doing happen inside. Case in point: while we were performing the inverted triangle pose, I often heard the instructor say, “Try to reach for the ceiling and push yourself further into the ground!” While that sounds counter-intuitive, the moment you try it out, you’ll be sweating your butt off. I’d stick to Vinyasa as my chief practice, but that’s because I like to move. If you’re a beginner and not sure of the movements, or if you’re trying to get deeper into your existing practice, then this is for you.