"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."
I can relate to the words of Charles Dickens after my first Bikram Yoga class.
Bikram Yoga is a ninety minute class in which you will perform a series of twenty six postures and two breathing exercises in a room heated to 40 degrees celsius. The heat allows greater strength and flexibility and the class provides a total body workout. It will also help to improve concentration and revitalise the mind.
In this class you will sweat, you will shake and you will suffer. You may even feel like you are going to pass out or puke. You will be pushed beyond your limits and have your mental and physical endurance tested. Should you survive the class, you will feel fit and flexible, empowered and resilient, invigorated and accomplished. These are the great extremes and the contradiction of Bikram Yoga.
If there is a good kind of torture then this is it. It was created with the purpose of healing and has been found to have many benefits including: Detoxify the body Oxygenise the blood Increase spinal flexibility and strength
Lubricate joints Strengthen bones
-Stretch and tone muscles
-Expand lung capacity
-Improve the cardiovascular system
Bikram Choudhury, the father of Bikram Yoga, says that "it's never too late, it's never too bad and you're never too old or sick to start from scratch and begin again". Meaning anyone can do it. I would be wary though if you have any sort of health conditions. Know your boundaries and as your Yoga teacher will tell you "listen to your body". If you need a break, take a break. If you suffer from hypertension, blood pressure or a heart condition it would be wise to seek your doctor's permission before starting Bikram Yoga.
Bikram Yoga Adelaide has studios at Pulteney Street, Adelaide and Brighton Road, Glenelg. Classes are held three to five times a day, seven days a week. You will find the studios to be clean and well equipped. There is a reception area that sells drinks, workout clothes, mats and other merchandise. Most importantly, there are showers which you will need if you are going anywhere other than home afterwards.
An hour and a half of agony does not come cheap but with very little competition, Bikram Yoga Adelaide can charge what they like. A casual class is $22. If it is your first visit you will be given a week pass that entitles you to attend as many classes as you please before committing to the various packages that are available. These packages make regular visits slightly more affordable - providing you are attending two to three times a week as the expiry dates do not allow for much less. You will need to bring an exercise mat, a large towel and an enormous bottle of water with you. Don't sweat it if you don't have these items to start with as the studio can provide them for you.
The studio is large, mirrored, sweltering and packed full of people. Approximately thirty to forty yogis and yoginis were present but it was hard to tell exactly with my vision stinging from sweat and blurred by a mirage of a cool swimming pool. A word of advice, remove jewellery before entering the studio. I was nearly branded by my necklace.
The instructor calls out the movements perched atop a small platform, much like a race caller or an auctioneer. First timers are encouraged to follow the devotees in the front row which is helpful because the instructor speaks quickly and uses Yoga terminology that is foreign to most. The experts provide newcomers with visual clues as how to navigate the pretzel-like poses. The ease in which they move from posture to posture is something to aspire to and provides the motivation to push harder and stretch further.
After the class, and a stint in front of the air conditioner, I was pleasantly surprised with the feeling of freshness and restored energy that carried me through the rest of the day. Many days later my quadriceps still tremble in memory of the workout, but as they say - no pain, no gain. Bikram Yoga is not for everyone but the benefits, you will find, are well worth it.
Hayley, loved your article on Bikram. Been wanting to try out Bikram for sometime now but haven't found anyone willing to go through torture with me. However after reading your experience, I think I might have developed an allergy to Bikram :)
I think Bikram Yoga is the best way to detoxify your body because it can remove toxins by sweat. I tried it once when I was planning to celebrate my birthday in a beach and it has really great result. I should have continued that discipline though.
I do Bickram yoga 4 times a week and in my mid fifties I've found it to be the most exhilerating therapeutic and most successful detoxification I have yet to find of my mind and body.
I feel stronger than I have ever felt and the definition of my muscles and the strength and elasticity of my tendons is beyond anything I have ever seen before.
It becomes a lifestyle change you just can't seem to do without and gets more enjoyable for its benefits the longer I do it!! JM