Sunday, 22 March 2015

My First Experience of Bikram Yoga with Class Pass

There’s something nice about waking up on a Saturday without an alarm and leisurely getting ready to try your first ever Bikram Yoga Class. Believe me, I didn't see this one coming either, it's a foreign concept to me as I’ve never done yoga of any kind before, let alone the hot, sweaty kind, but I'm always up for giving new things a go. 


I'm not sure how many of you fellow fitness lovers out there have heard of Class Pass, but to summarise it's the latest 'thing' to come from the States and hit London. It's a monthly subscription service that gives you access to numerous classes - from boxing to yoga and bootcamps to ballet; there is so much choice, and it seems like the list is just going to keep on growing. So, with a chance to test out Class Pass, I chose to give Bikram Yoga a go. 

I’m interested in yoga because at the moment I feel like I’m doing well in the gym and I can feel myself getting noticeably stronger, and I'm lifting heavier, but what I don’t feel, which I want to, is lean. As I’m building more muscle, I feel like everything is tightening and contracting slightly and although it may not be visible to anyone other than me, I want to help stretch out those muscles and by all accounts yoga is pretty good at that. I also know that I have terrible posture and so I’m thinking an hour and a half of thinking about posture may teach me a thing or two.

For those that don’t know, Bikram Yoga is the one where you do it in some incredibly hot room, the class lasts for 90mins and its mandatory to bring in at least 1.5l of water to keep yourself hydrated. So, regardless I know I’m going to be sweating out some toxins at least. 

I packed my kit, complete with two towels, a 2L bottle of water, my protein shake and change of clothes for afterwards and set off with an open mind to Hot Bikram Yoga at London Bridge as it said its classes were fine for beginners. 

To be honest, it was a surprising experience. From the moment you walk through the doors, you are definitely in the world of a 'yogi' and for those of you like me, that wouldn't know what to expect from a Bikram Yoga class, let me fill you in...

1. The first thing you need to be prepared for is the over powering smell of sweat as soon as you enter the studio. The smell hits you almost as much as the heat (not a great combination) and the soft flooring is all wet too, soaked in sweat, literally! 

2. Drink a lot of water before you begin. There isn't really much time to stop and drink once the class gets underway apart from 20mins in when you're told you can drink, as although Bikram Yoga is slow paced, it's consistent so you don't really want to stop and sip water and miss the next pose

3. Make sure you're somewhere in the middle of the class. There is a lot of turning to face different sides of the room, so you don't want to be at the front of any of those sides if you don't know what you're doing

4. You will feel a bit dizzy / lightheaded during the class. It passes, but the instructor said you should sit down on your mat if you felt it was too much

5. Wear tight fitting clothes or less. I wore my compression top and leggings but some girls were in there in bikinis, and most just had yoga crop tops on, the men wore shorts with no t-shirts because it gets so hot

6. Don't be surprised by how many men are in the class - this is not a woman's only activity, far from it, the men in the class had powerful, sculpted bodies and you could tell they'd been practising for a while

7. To get the benefits the instructor said you should attempt to do Bikram at least once a week, if not more, to help your body get used to the poses and start to lengthen - bear this in mind if you're seriously considering giving it a proper go

8. You leave the class so sweaty that a load of the girls went into the showers in all their clothes, serious sweat is lost during Bikram

9. Being in that class opens up your pores. I'm not sure if this is actually a proper benefit, or even it was just me, but when I got home I was surprised by how refreshed my skin looked - seriously


Overall I found it a fun experience, but the jury's out as to whether I'd do it again. Not because I don't think it would be good for me, but because the hot, sweaty environment wasn't one I enjoyed. I'm thinking I might give Pilates a go next and see how I get on with that - I've seen all those fangled gadgets they get involved in the class, so I'll let you know how I get on. 

Hope you found this an interesting post, obviously it's just my take on things and based on my experience, but if you're a Bikram Yoga lover I'd love to know your thoughts / experience. Likewise if there are any Pilates gurus out there and you have an idea of where in London I should try - do let me know.
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