So recently we’ve kind of been getting into this yoga malarkey. And this is the class that started it all, hot bikram.
What: Hot Bikram Yoga
Where: Studios in Balham, Fulham and London Bridge
Duration: 90 minutes
Cost: Introductory offer, 20 days for £35.
When we turned up to our first bikram class on a drizzly Sunday, slightly tired and a tad hungover, the 105 degree heat in the studio was very pleasant. The heat is meant to recreate the climate in India where yoga is traditionally practiced, so we lay down on our mats, closed our eyes and imagined the palm trees. Blissful.
Then, Naomi, the instructor arrived and everything changed. This shizz got hard! First things first, Naomi is a smashing teacher, she’s friendly, great at helping you with postures, and has a wicked sense of humour – nothing worse than a worthy teacher who takes yoga far too seriously.
Naomi however, is also evil (although she insists she’s one of the kinder ones, god help us!). She had skulls on her yoga outfit. This should have alerted us to the fact that, underneath that smiling exterior, she is a mistress of pain. Believe us when we say, you will sweat!
Hold that pose
Bikram follows a series of 26 postures (asanas) through a 90-minute class. You take things at your own level and rest when you need to – and we needed to rest, a lot. As well as stretching you into some obscure positions (the heat helps your flexibility), bikram is great for strength, our arms ached like a bugger the next day from holding them outstretched. It also really gets your heart pumping and is good for weight loss – Naomi herself has lost three stone since she started practising.
We have to admit though, the heat did make us feel a bit dizzy. We had to rest quite a bit throughout the class. Apparently this is common when you first start and a couple of classes in you get used to the heat. It is also common if you haven’t eaten – as some girls in the class hadn’t (it was 3pm, how can you last that long without food!?) or, err, if you have a hangover. Hmm.
Great for complementing other sports
Bikram is great exercise on its own but is a really beneficial addition to an existing exercise regime. As runners we could feel the advantage of the stretches on our tight hamstrings and the breathing exercises, as well as strength building postures, will undoubtedly help in most sports – probably one of the reasons some Team GB athletes are fans. As it’s low impact it’s also safe to practice with a number of injuries – although of course always ask the instructor first. Another advantage is that, as the sequence stays the same every class you should spot improvements pretty quickly.
The thing that really inspired us to keep going with yoga though was the massive endorphin rush afterwards. Proper buzzing. The heat also makes you feel all cleansed, like you want to want to go and eat green stuff. Oh yeah, and at one point Naomi’s son came in and demonstrated the locust posture. If an eight-year-old can do it, then we need to get that pose nailed by Christmas!
If you’d like to learn about other forms of yoga check out our Yogapedia