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Bikram Yoga: My Experience


#1

So after chatting w/usmccds in another thread and wandering into a discussion of Bikram Yoga, I just wanted to start a little thread here.

Disclaimer: I am not any sort of certified expert in yoga or strength training. Just a guy that does some of each.

Brief background: I'm 5-11, about 210 pounds, 28 years old. I played sports all my life and had a decent career as a small-college football player, then ran marathons for a few years before coming back around to mostly strength work. Predictably, the long period of heavy lifting, football, and then hardcore distance running turned me into a mess of sore ankles, knees, etc. I always had very poor flexibility, mobility, and balance.

About five years ago, I wandered into Bikram yoga studio, courtesy of a Groupon that offered unlimited yoga for two months for like 20 bucks. I have maintained a steady practice most of the intervening time, depending on how much I happened to be running, lifting, or biking at the time.

It's the same 26 postures in every class (twice each)
It's 90 minutes long every time
It's in a room heated to 105 degrees

I find it a very enjoyable "active recovery day" between hard lifting and/or running workouts. I don't always feel good going INTO the room, but I always feel good when I leave. Sort of a "pleasantly drained" feeling - I sweated a lot and got a bit of a workout, but I feel pretty refreshed.

Re: usmc's question about whether it's harmful to dehydrate yourself...I do sweat a ton (5-7 pounds, probably) but no more than I would in a hard wrestling practice or a long and tough lifting workout on a hot and humid summer day. As long as you're wise about going to class fairly well-hydrated (NOT HUNG OVER) and/or you make sure to sip on some fluids for the rest of the day after you go, that's never been a major issue to me.

Anyone interested, ask away.


#2

Nice thread, AG. My husband and I did Bikram for a month, also thanks to a Groupon. I enjoyed it, especially the part where I got to sweat like crazy in February in Michigan. Unfortunately the studio we attended didn’t do a good job instructing beginners and I always felt lost during the classes. When our trial was up, we didn’t renew.

Now I live in south Florida, so I can essentially do Bikram for free 6 months of the year!

Seriously though, doing 10,000 swings has me feeling quite tight, so I need to get back to doing at least a minimal routine every day or so. What poses or flows do you suggest? I’m thinking a few Sun Salutes, T pose and some back bridges just to keep things loose.


#3

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
Unfortunately the studio we attended didn’t do a good job instructing beginners and I always felt lost during the classes. When our trial was up, we didn’t renew.
[/quote]

This seems to be a high-variance thing among studios. I’ve been to about 12 different Bikram studios around the country (I almost always see if there’s a studio when I go on vacation, my parents and GF both practice as well so if we’re on family vaca that’s usually a consideration) and some do a very good job making beginners feel “at home” while others leave the poor folks totally lost.

I do think it takes at least three or four classes to feel like you have a clue. I would also say that my first few classes felt like they took FOREVER, but once I’d been going for awhile and knew the series well, things started to go by much faster. You’re still there for 90 minutes, no doubt, but I don’t sit there wondering “God, HOW MUCH LONGER DO WE HAVE TO GO!”

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
Seriously though, doing 10,000 swings has me feeling quite tight, so I need to get back to doing at least a minimal routine every day or so. What poses or flows do you suggest? I’m thinking a few Sun Salutes, T pose and some back bridges just to keep things loose.[/quote]

Triangle, triangle, triangle.

Actually, if you can scrounge up any memories from your time in Bikram class and/or find a video, the ones I’d recommend for hips that you could string together:

Half-Moon
Eagle
Standing Bow
Triangle
Tree
Floor Bow
Spine Twist

I know that’s a bunch, but if you just did some combination of two or three of those every day, for a few minutes before/after your swings, I imagine that would help.

Here’s a link that has a photo of each to jog your memory

http://bikramyogabethesda.com/what-is-bikram/26-postures/

**Note to noobs reading the thread: if you can’t get ALL THE WAY into a posture, THAT IS TOTALLY OKAY. Should have specified that at first. I can barely get halfway into some of these. The goal is to stay in the proper alignment and work your way into them, not just to fold yourself into a pretzel.


#4

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
Triangle, triangle, triangle.

Actually, if you can scrounge up any memories from your time in Bikram class and/or find a video, the ones I’d recommend for hips that you could string together:

Half-Moon
Eagle
Standing Bow
Triangle
Tree
Floor Bow
Spine Twist
[/quote]

That’s a good list. Thank you. Triangle pose is a great suggestion. That one always gets me feeling loose and more balanced. I do HATE Eagle pose, probably because I’m terrible at it! Which I’m sure means I should do it everyday. And some time in Half Moon would help my hamstrings which are super tight.


#5

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:
Triangle, triangle, triangle.

Actually, if you can scrounge up any memories from your time in Bikram class and/or find a video, the ones I’d recommend for hips that you could string together:

Half-Moon
Eagle
Standing Bow
Triangle
Tree
Floor Bow
Spine Twist
[/quote]

That’s a good list. Thank you. Triangle pose is a great suggestion. That one always gets me feeling loose and more balanced. I do HATE Eagle pose, probably because I’m terrible at it! Which I’m sure means I should do it everyday. And some time in Half Moon would help my hamstrings which are super tight.
[/quote]

To be honest, the reason I go to class (besides that I really do like it, and like the people that generally gravitate there) is that I’d never do this stuff on my own, haha. A few times I’ve stopped going and just said that I’ll do a few key postures before or after running. I never keep with it. So by just going to one whole class a week, I figure that at least I am doing something for mobility, balance, etc.


#6

Great idea for a thread.

Quick question: at the risk of exposing myself as a total pansy, how bad does the BO get in the room? I’ve got a sensitive sniffer and I hate working out with stanky people.

I have my own practice (2x week) but the idea that I’m going to be inhaling someone else’s curry dinner for 90 minutes has kept me away.


#7

Lol, you really wanted to talk about yoga didn’t you!


#8

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Lol, you really wanted to talk about yoga didn’t you![/quote]

Ha, it just seemed like a decent thing to chat about. It’s a semi-useful thing that some weight-training people might consider as outside-the-weight-room work, and I don’t know how much it really gets talked about here. Figured I could be a useful reference!

Especially because lots of people that see my yoga mat, ask me “Do you do that hot yoga stuff?” have pretty funny misconceptions about the stuff.


#9

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Quick question: at the risk of exposing myself as a total pansy, how bad does the BO get in the room? I’ve got a sensitive sniffer and I hate working out with stanky people.
[/quote]

Totally legitimate question, lol.

I imagine that you’ll have the occasional bad experience, but I can honestly say that I have no memories of a time where I went to class and noticed someone else’s BO was so bad that it bothered me. TBH, I am more bothered by someone grunting or panting because they’re working way too hard to keep themselves in a posture. With respect to training hard, that belongs in the weight room (there, grunt away if you must), but not in the yoga studio.

Some studios with carpeted floors can be a little stanky, but most of the Bikram studios that I’ve been to have either some sort of techy fiber floor or a rubberized mat that doesn’t absorb too much sweat.

The more legitimate question that keeps some people away is that…it’s kind of expensive (usually 15-18 bucks for a single class, or in my case, 89 per month to go unlimited…which I realize can cost me a few bucks if I only go 4 times in a month, but I have the means, I like supporting the studio, and that means I never have to worry if I get on more of a kick and go 10 times in a month) and some folks just can’t justify to themselves spending that much dough on yoga when a gym membership costs a lot less.

That’s obviously variable from person-to-person. It is a bit of a luxury hobby and, if money got really tight for me, I could give it up and make do. But I will say that for folks who spend 100 or more a month on supps, this is a “supplement” of sorts to me, a thing that keeps me healthy and grinding away with my kettlebells.


#10

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Great idea for a thread.
[/quote]

I also now feel that I’ve truly arrived as a T-Nation forumite.

Pangloss said I had a great idea for a thread.

Where’s my participation ribbon?


#11

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Lol, you really wanted to talk about yoga didn’t you![/quote]

Ha, it just seemed like a decent thing to chat about. It’s a semi-useful thing that some weight-training people might consider as outside-the-weight-room work, and I don’t know how much it really gets talked about here. Figured I could be a useful reference!

Especially because lots of people that see my yoga mat, ask me “Do you do that hot yoga stuff?” have pretty funny misconceptions about the stuff.[/quote]

Lol, ya I hear you. I could certainly learn a thing or two about active recovery / prehab / etc…


#12

[quote]ActivitiesGuy wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
Quick question: at the risk of exposing myself as a total pansy, how bad does the BO get in the room? I’ve got a sensitive sniffer and I hate working out with stanky people.
[/quote]

Totally legitimate question, lol.

I imagine that you’ll have the occasional bad experience, but I can honestly say that I have no memories of a time where I went to class and noticed someone else’s BO was so bad that it bothered me. TBH, I am more bothered by someone grunting or panting because they’re working way too hard to keep themselves in a posture. With respect to training hard, that belongs in the weight room (there, grunt away if you must), but not in the yoga studio.

Some studios with carpeted floors can be a little stanky, but most of the Bikram studios that I’ve been to have either some sort of techy fiber floor or a rubberized mat that doesn’t absorb too much sweat.

The more legitimate question that keeps some people away is that…it’s kind of expensive (usually 15-18 bucks for a single class, or in my case, 89 per month to go unlimited…which I realize can cost me a few bucks if I only go 4 times in a month, but I have the means, I like supporting the studio, and that means I never have to worry if I get on more of a kick and go 10 times in a month) and some folks just can’t justify to themselves spending that much dough on yoga when a gym membership costs a lot less.

That’s obviously variable from person-to-person. It is a bit of a luxury hobby and, if money got really tight for me, I could give it up and make do. But I will say that for folks who spend 100 or more a month on supps, this is a “supplement” of sorts to me, a thing that keeps me healthy and grinding away with my kettlebells.[/quote]

My experience is limited here, but I also am a bit on the sensitive side. I avoid French Canadian tourists at all costs! My only bad experience was with a woman wearing perfume to a class. That’s not a good thing to do in a 95 degree studio. Also, the one I went to had bamboo flooring, so no legacy stink there.


#13

I first tried Bikram when I was recovering from a groin injury. I thought doing yoga might help with recovery, and maybe it did.

I was attending 2-4 classes a week for about 3 months, and it almost became a little addictive. I then moved to a town that did not have Bikram, and I initially kind of missed it, but now I kind of realised that the benefits that I was getting from it was kind of limited and maybe not suited for my goals.

If I was to live in a place that offered Bikram, I probably would not attend. Maybe if I was older(40+) and wanted to do sort of low impact exercise maybe??

tweet


#14

And its great for “bird watching”, if you know what I mean.

tweet


#15

I don’t really enjoy bikram. The pose sequence is boring, it’s generally too crowded, and people with nasty BO ruin the experience. I did yoga about 4x a week for 3 or so years before i started lifting. I think bikram is the crossfit of the yoga world IMO.


#16

Is there any tangible benefit to doing yoga in a hot room? If so, can I duplicate by bundling up in multiple layers? My feeling is I shouldn’t have to pay for workout sessions that require no equipment whatsoever


#17

^All I can say to the above posts are that YMMV. Many folks that do “other” yoga will say they dislike Bikram for one reason or another. And hey, that’s fine. Nobody says you have to go. I do laugh at some of the complaints I hear from people that hated it (it was too hot - OK, if you don’t like the heat, don’t go back - or “they were telling me what to do” - well yeah, that’s kind of the point, if you want to just do your own thing, do it at home and save the money, lol).

Captnoblivious: regarding, the crowding, that is variable from studio to studio. I’ve been to studios that cram 55 people into a room that should not have more than 40 in it, and I’ve been to studios that get 15-20 people per class. I like it being “crowded but not too crowded” but that’s my preference. Again, YMMV. My “home” studio generally gets about 20 people for Saturday/Sunday morning classes and I’m never forced to “touch” my neighbor, but there are enough people in class that the room gets nice and warm.

Re: the pose sequence being “boring” - that’s actually one of the things I like about Bikram, lol. I enjoy going to a class and knowing exactly what the poses will be every time. I only go to the studio once or twice a week as “active recovery” - maybe my opinion would be different if I was going to class every day.

I do kind of chuckle at your comment that it’s the “Crossfit of the yoga world.” FWIW, in my travels, most Bikram studios are very friendly and welcoming. I have occasionally encountered an instructor that I thought was kind of a dick or someone that would have definitely scared off beginners. Being a good yoga instructor requires an ability to assess everyone in the room and tailor your instructions and demeanor to each person as you give comments and corrections.

Facepalm_Death: just my opinion, but I have tried to do Bikram postures at home and have never felt that I could match the feeling of being in the room. It’s not just about the heat, although that’s definitely part of it. But also having an instructor in the room to make corrections and give cues (head back, chin up, right shoulder forward, etc) is helpful for me. I also enjoy the social aspect of being at the studio and chatting with my friends there before and after class; but I understand that some people just don’t care about things like that, or have other places to get their social jollies on and don’t need friends at the gym or yoga studio.

It’s expensive, yes. Personal choice whether paying the money is worth it to you. I think it is for me; but, yet again, YMMV.

FWIW, Bikram Choudhury, the man, is a complete scumbag. However, I have spoken to several studio owners and they’ve all confirmed that Bikram receives no money from the studios once they’re up and running - he only gets money for the teacher training.


#18

Are the postures different? I understand the benefit of having someone coach you through it. I just don’t understand how the heat, specifically heat from the thermostat, enhances the training effect / other health benefits.


#19

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:
Are the postures different? I understand the benefit of having someone coach you through it. I just don’t understand how the heat, specifically heat from the thermostat, enhances the training effect / other health benefits.[/quote]

One of the few claimed benefits of hot yoga that can be substantiated is that the heat in the room does actually help your muscles lengthen/loosen, making it easier to get into deeper stretches more quickly.


#20

I just recently found out about this form of yoga, but there is nothing near me, do you think i can learn this all by my self with some videos?