Moving slowly in a boiling hot room? Yes please.
When my sister suggested we try out Bikram yoga as cross training for our upcoming half marathon, she had me at the first sentence: moving slowly in a boiling hot room? Yes please, where do we sign up – this sounds like my kind of exercise. The second sentence only improved matters; we can get a Groupon voucher entitling us to a month of unlimited access for £30. Bargain! We signed up and I did what you absolutely must do before taking up any new sports (or even consider doing so) – I went and invested in an outfit from Sports Direct to ensure I looked the part.
The website FAQs recommended not eating heavy food up to 3 hours before a class and drinking lots of water, however, a reunion with old university friends just before my first class resulted in me scoffing a substantial amount of Danish pastries and washing them down with beer – this was all consumed in the safety of my own home, there was no way anyone would know.
As I entered the front door of the studio, I was immediately hit by an overbearing smell that was strongly reminiscent of pongy feet. I descended down a spiral staircase and was immediately greeted by the sight of glistening bodies clad in what would most aptly be described as swimwear. Bugger I thought, I had chosen the outfit completely wrong and opted for baggy short-shorts and a loose top. My plan to ‘fake it until I make it’ was already derailing.
Uh-oh, I began to panic. These people are pros; they know – they can smell the sugar, carbs and alcohol on me from a mile away. Maybe I should have bathed in coconut water and exfoliated myself with quinoa beforehand to give off that ‘clean eater’ aura (on the to-do list for next time). Better yet, maybe I shouldn’t have ignored the FAQs.
I changed and waited with my sister in the area for glistening bodies, listening in awe as the regulars shared their progress and successes with the ‘30 day challenge’ – completing a 90 minute class every day for 30 consecutive days. We were so awe struck and oblivious to the etiquette in fact that we failed to realise everyone else had gone into the boiling hot studio to ‘acclimatise’ before the class started. We ran in 30 seconds before the class started and quickly set up our mats, right at the back of the class obviously, before realising the mirror covered the entire room and wouldn’t let us blend into the background anyway.
The room really was startlingly hot, and this became overwhelming at times, most probably due to the fact that I am prone to claustrophobia. The heat meant that my heart rate remained raised throughout the class, even when I was lying still and controlling my breathing – I assume this is why you supposedly burn so many calories. We managed to stick out the 90 minutes (admittedly sitting out on some of the poses) and by the end of the class I was absolutely gobsmacked at how much I had sweated throughout the class. Even the front of my thighs were dripping with sweat – is that a thing?? This did make some of the poses quite tricky to hold as it was quite easy to slip. I challenge anybody to attend a Bikram Yoga class without shedding at least a litre of sweat!
Admittedly I did feel good afterwards; I am not sure how much of that was due to the yoga or just being in a warm room for 90 minutes on a cold winter’s evening. I felt even better after a slap up meal – well I had earned it.
I found myself going back a few times to get my money’s worth. There were points when the classes were far too oversubscribed which made it very unpleasant, exacerbated by the tiny changing rooms – the last thing you want is to be surrounded by very sweaty people.
My brief fling with Bikram yoga came to an abrupt end when I managed to hurt the arch in my left foot. I am not entirely sure how, but most probably down to me being overambitious and trying to keep up with the super fit. Shame on you over competitive inner-monologue – no, you are not really good at this after 4 classes and no, you should not give up your day job and become a yoga guru.
The experience was an enlightening one and I would recommend it to others, just remember to listen to your body and not push it too hard and take a spare towel!
As for me, I think I will be sticking to the lazy girl leg raises in front of the TV for now as cross training.
– Bethan Sophia