Bikram Yoga.......effective cardio with health benefits or just hype?

Its been a busy two weeks and I feel as though I have absolutely lots to catch up on!! So please do bear with me. Lets start with my first experience of Bikram Yoga two weeks ago!

It was our anniversary and we often choose to do something new and interesting, so I surprised my mountain man with our first Bikram Yoga class at a Bikram Yoga Centre in Balham, London. As a bit of a yoga enthusiast who completed Level 1 of the Sivananda Yoga course in Putney Bridge (http://www.sivananda.co.uk/index.html) and enjoys doing a bit of yoga at home when I'm less lazy, I am not completely new to yoga. In addition I also enjoy meditation which I practice on a daily basis. So I could be very biased when it comes to Bikram Yoga, but here is what I think!

When we arrived at the Bikram Yoga Centre in Balham, the first thing that hit me instantly was the strong and nauseating smell. It was a strong mixture of damp, sweaty socks and musky wood that really did make me feel unwell. My mountain man said jokingly and quietly to me; "Oh! That must be the smell of bacteria!" It was a bit shocking as I was expecting a big sauna and none of the sauna's I have been to actually smelled quite that bad. But after we put our things away in the changing room and entered the yoga studio, I understood how the smell could be so overpowering. It was quite a big room, but there were 30 yoga mats lying next to each other, without much space in between, and in 3 rows across the room. When I found a spot near the exit door and put down my towel, it was literally touching both my neighbours' towels.

The Bikram Yoga instructor began by seeking out all of the new comers, including us, and explained that it is normal to feel nausea or sick during our first session as we try to get use to the hot steamed up room, so the best thing to do if we felt sick was to sit down and she will come to assist us. As the heat began and the doors were closed, we started with breathing exercises and some simple positions for stretching. The yoga positions we did throughout the 90minutes class were not particularly difficult or advanced, and I think in a few positions I did stretch a bit more. You could really feel the heat.....as I was sweating so much that my quick drying gym clothes were literally drenching wet throughout the class, and at a few points I did feel that it was very difficult to breath. I was lucky to be near an exit door, as I think I safely endured the heat for the 90 minutes because the instructor was opening the door to let some air in when it got too hot. (NOTE: The photo above is Not of the same yoga centre I went to, which had a smaller big room, but photo is from another article on Bikram Yoga: http://s1.hubimg.com/u/406500_f520.jpg)

As I saw sweat dripping off everyone in close proximity to me in the hot steamy room with an overpowering smell, it did make me think whether what I was doing to my body was actually healthy? Firstly I was concerned about the breathing......as someone who meditates and practice yoga I have been taught the importance of breathing properly and filling my lungs with oxygen. So surely restricting your oxygen supply can not be good for your living organs such as your skin, body, cells or brain? Secondly, some Bikram Yoga centres claim that it is a good form of cardio and it can aid weight loss because of the sweating. I am not convinced that it is an effective form of cardio that will aid weight loss, as the excessive sweating can mean that you are losing water which makes up part of your weight and some of the positions may have a toning effect, but whether fat is burned is another matter. My mountain man went back for a second class with a heart rate monitor to see the effects of Bikram Yoga and discovered the 90 minutes session was equal to a one hour jog for him in terms of calories burnt. For me, Bikram Yoga would be a less effective and less healthy option to achieve weight loss because it would mean that I am spending 30 minutes extra to achieve something I can do in a 60 minutes jog outdoors in fresh air or a oxygen sufficient environment, my body goes through severe dehydration during Bikram Yoga that resulted in a headache afterwards, and I would be giving up on the repeated motion of lifting my legs to work on burning some tummy fat and defining the abdominal muscles. As for my third concern....it is a matter of hygiene! I dare not think of the amount of bacteria that has been cultivated in that steamy hot room and to top it off, being so very sweaty myself, the lack of space made me very conscious of accidentally touching anyone's sweaty body......especially when I saw that the girl in front of me had an open wound on her foot which almost caught my face in one of the positions!

However, I do understand that being healthy is about maintaining a lifestyle choice or form of exercise that you will want to do for the long term, and I did enjoy the experience of doing something different, interesting or new. I also think the founder of Bikram Yoga; Bikram Choudhry, does make a good point in his philosophy; "never too old, never too late, never too sick, never too bad to start from scratch and begin again". (Photo)

Until the next time,
May xx

Comments

  1. Hello! Thank you so much for being my 100th follower! <333

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  2. You are most welcome sweety!! Glad to be you hundredth follower and I would love to learn the secret of how to walk in those beautiful sky scrapper heels you have in your collection!! :)
    May xx

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~Thank you. I love hearing from you and appreciate every beautiful comment. Thank you for walking with me friend.....may your path always be auspicious!

With Loving Kindness,
♥ May xx

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