When most people hear “yoga,” they also hear “stretching,” “zen,” “lean,” or maybe even “boring.” Yoga isn’t for the faint of heart: it requires flexibility, concentration, and stamina. Yogis pride themselves on their long and lean figure and rigorous practice. But for those of us who can’t quite break into the yoga culture, have no fear. The newest trend in yoga is warm, inviting, and can accommodate anyone. Did I mention it’s warm? Yes, ladies, it’s called hot yoga, or Bikram, and it’s the best new workout to make the hot list.
Bikram yoga is a 90 minute long class that uses 26 poses, performed two times each. Instead of traditional “downward dog” or “Warrior” poses, Bikram poses are focused on opening and expanding the body into challenging and intricate poses. Oh, and the room is heated to 108 degrees. The high temperature not only loosens your joints but also increases your metabolism and burns a ton of calories! Another difference in Bikram classes is that the instructor doesn’t do the moves with you. Normally, he uses descriptive Bikram language to guide the class members from transitioning from one pose to another. And if he’s generous, he’ll turn the fans on for you.
Before walking in to your first Bikram studio, there are a few tips you should take into consideration. First drink PLENTY of water! Bikram students normally drink up to 40 ounces of water before a class, in order to stay hydrated during class. Also bring an additional water bottle or Gatorade to class because you get plenty of water breaks. Because the room is so hot, students wear minimal clothing and leave the cotton t-shirts at home. It’s not uncommon to see shirtless men or women in sports bras; it’s THAT hot. Bring a towel, a yoga mat, and an open mind. The only way to succeed in Bikram is to immerse yourself in the 90 minutes and do the best you can. And when you go back (which you will), you’ll find that you’ve improved already.