I have never heard anything good about Bikram Yoga.
Actually no – I have to edit that slightly because my brothers friend Hine said it rocked so I’ve only heard 1 person say Bikram was fab all the other 999 people I’ve talked to had complaint after complaint.
The major complaints people I’ve spoken to had was that they found it “restrictive” (you can’t leave the room) and the instructors were “like a drill instructors”
I’ve been to a yoga studio in my past where there was a drill Sargent instructor and the yoga was very “old school”
I hated it! (actually there were 3 of us who went together and we all hated it) so I imagined Bikram to be a lot like that experience but hot.
However one thing I hate more than drill sargeants is the cold – I don’t do cold very well at all (the cold is one of the many reasons J and I live here and not in freezing arse England) and morning yoga at the gym these days requires about 4 layers of clothing.
So because of that I’ve been researching Bikram studios in central Auckland as I’ve got some specific requirements. The studio needs (in order of importance) the following ..
- Early morning sessions on a Tuesday/Thursday (finished by 8)
- Shower facilities
- Be an easy drive to work
I narrowed it down to two studios that fit the bill Hot Yoga on Khyber Pass (although I can’t tell from their website if they have showers) and East West on Ponsonby Road. I was actually leaning towards Hot Yoga because they have a variety of classes including Vinyasa which I love but East West had a grab one deal on last week so I grabbed it.
I was a tad hesitant when I read these statements under “new student info” on the East West website ..
“All classes are 90 minutes long and you are expected to remain in the class for the duration”
“Please inform teacher of any concerns or injuries you may have – they are not mind readers!”
Is that a slight hint of drill instructor or is just my imagination running away with me? Either way it was too late now! East West have my money so I was going .. scared or not.
So this morning I turned up early (as instructed) handed over my voucher and Bruce (head Yogi) showed me where in the room (eg the coolest section) I should set up “as a newbie” – he was polite enough a bit gruff but I didn’t run back down the stairs 😉
I set myself up in the cool spot and as the student info said bring a large towel I finally got to try out one of my Lululemon equa towels that I picked at one of their sales last year.
It was about that point that I realised that I had a lulu mat, lulu towel and I was also decked head to toe in lulu – I probably looked like one of those people who had decided to take up Yoga, gone into Lululemon and bought an entire ensemble #hangheadinshame I must be more mindful of my outfit next time 😉
As I was early I lay down on my mat and basked in the warmth – it was comfortably warm but not hot. It was the first class of the day so apparently that is to be expected because the heating has only been on for a short time. I was also told it would get warmer as we went along.
I’d occasionally open my eyes and look as people came in and set up. It seems boys don’t wear shirts to Bikram it’s as if its compulsary NOT to wear one also the Trumpet ad togs, togs, undies sprung to mind while I was people watching from my mat.
When it was time to start Head Yogi walked in, everyone jumped up and stood at attention (so obviously I followed suit) then in unison the entire class started doing the same thing.
It reminded me of the time I went to Midnight Mass and all the catholic peeps said the same thing and did the same thing all in perfect unison for just about the entire service, a little unnerving!
However thankfully the studio has full length mirrors so I was able to follow the clever people in the front row and the nice man in front of me slowed down to help me follow his legs and arms when we did the pretzel poses.
What I didn’t realise (Well I kind of did – but didn’t take much notice) is that Bikram is always the same
That explains why everyone could keep in time and not look at the Head Yogi with a confused look on their face like I kept doing 😉
My no.6 was iffy, my numbers 12 and 20 are non existent and we seemed to do one in between 17 and 18 (I guess it would be 17.5) where we put both hands under our selves and lifted our feet that pose was also hit and miss but otherwise I managed.
Did I sweat – yep! Did I think I was going to die? – No I did get a bit dizzy when we kept standing up then lowering forward into a balance but otherwise nothing was “that bad”
I did however learn that the room was “cold” so cold in fact that apparently one girl was shivering .. she looked sweaty to me, but yeah .. who am I to judge.
So Bikram ..
When I practice I prefer to either stand on my hands, go upside down and make myself into a pretzel OR do a session at the complete other end of the spectrum a restorative session that’s packed with long slow stretches.
Bikram is neither of those things BUT I had the advantage of thinking it was really really really going to suck and it didn’t.
It’s something I would definitely keep doing especially during winter and hopefully I will get better at balancing on one leg – that’s got to help with my pistols. There is always an upside!
Till next time