On Friday morning, Babyface and I packed up and headed down to Indiana Bikram to try out our first ever Bikram yoga class. If you don’t know the deal with Bikram, it’s 90 minutes, doing 26 postures in a room heated to 105° with 40% humidity.
It was intense.
Babyface and I are both definitely yoga novices. I had taken one “official” vinyasa flow class before (and had a terrible experience) and we’ve both dabbled a bit with yoga DVDs, but we were definitely newbies. Neither of us had any idea of what to expect, so we did a lot of research beforehand to quell our nerves. Because of our extensive Googling, we knew that the class would probably be voice led, there would be no talking allowed in the room, and the main goal for the first class was to just stay in the hot room. And those were all the case!
I’d read a lot of horror stories about mean instructors barking orders (after all, I’ve heard Bikram referred to as the “boot camp” of yoga), but we didn’t experience that at all. Our instructor was incredibly nice, gave us a whole run down of everything before we ever entered the room and gave us lots of positive feedback.
The room is hot. Obviously, but I never thought it was unbearably so. Maybe that’s because of the obscene heatwave we had a few weeks back, but I actually think there was something comforting about the oppressive heat. Of course, I was hot and sweating, but I never felt uncomfortable. Babyface, on the other hand, became pretty overwhelmed by the heat in the last half hour. I think it totally depends on the person.
As far as the postures, I was actually amazed at how relatively simple and clear they were. I didn’t feel like anything was overly complicated or confusing for a beginner (and that could be because of our awesome instructor). Of course, the heat really helped me to be more flexible. The first half of Bikram classes is always standing poses, followed by floor poses. I did get dizzy quite a few times during the standing poses. I’m pretty susceptible to fainting, especially when I go from being inverted to right-side-up pretty quickly, and that happened a few times during the standing series. I had to sit down and watch (but stay in the room!) for a few poses because I felt really light-headed, but I was able to do the vast majority of the postures. I’ve been told that dizzy feeling goes away once you get more used to the heat and postures.
But once we did the floor postures, I rocked ’em! The instructor even told me afterward that she wishes she had her cameraphone with her so she could document a first-timer doing Full Locust pose so perfectly. Brush my shoulders off.
By about 20 minutes left in the class, I was just ready to be done. But I think that’s when the real mental work starts. I’d love for the class to be a bit shorter, but pushing yourself to get through and stay in that hot room for the full 90 minutes is a really good practice in willpower and strength.
My only real issue actually happened after class. I’m not sure if this is normal, but in our class, during the final relaxation, the instructor opened all the doors to bring in some cool air so we could all start to regulate our temperature. Great idea! I stayed in savasana for about five minutes, but I still felt extremely dizzy and light-headed as soon as I hit the cooler air out in the hallway. By the time I’d gathered my purse and put my flip-flops back on, I was starting to see spots and was for sure I was going to hit the floor. So I popped a squat and regained my marbles for a few minutes. But as soon as I got up again, the spots and dizziness came right back. I powered through, thinking I could just get to the car, but the instructor stopped me to chat in the lobby and, well, long story short, I ended up collapsing against some old trunk.
The instructor told me that next time, I should try staying in the room for 5-10 more minutes during savasana to give my body a chance to acclimate to the cooler air temperature. She said it’s very common for first-timers to pass out after their first class. Apparently the contrast between the hot room and the cool hallway is just too much for the body to take.
Babyface helped me back to the car, we enjoyed the breeze outside, ate some watermelon (which was pretty much the best tasting thing ever) and drank some coconut water. Within about five minutes I felt totally normal. Actually, better than normal! I felt invigorated. I felt calm. I felt really freakin’ proud of myself for conquering that class!
We actually headed grocery shopping afterward and Babyface and I both remarked at how—pardon the cliche—Zen we felt. Normally I get pretty stressed while grocery shopping, but I was cool as a cucumber. It was a pretty awesome feeling.
The next morning, I was sore, but in a bunch of really weird places. My neck muscles were super sore as were my obliques. My whole back wasn’t really hurting, but it definitely felt like it had a good workout. I loved that there were poses to focus on the lower, middle and upper areas of the back.
So, will I do Bikram again? Absolutely. But not all that often.
It’s expensive. Crazy expensive. We paid $16 each. And as great as I felt afterward, and as amazing as it felt to sweat that much, it’s just too insanely expensive to do frequently. But I’m so glad I did it and I can’t wait to try it again!