Disclaimer: I am not a fitness or yoga instructor. I only know what I read on Wikipedia and have experienced myself. As such, this article was written as a “normal Joe” would write it. Hope you enjoy!
Here is an account of my experience with hot yoga, in particular Bikram hot Yoga.
As for why in the world would someone want to exercise in 105°F, there are a lot of reasons. The main reason I went was to detox my body. When exercising in 105°F, you sweat so much it looks like you were caught in the rain. This helps release any toxins you may have in your body. Another reason why Bikram Yoga is in 105°F is because when your muscles are hot they are more pliable. The moves in Bikram Yoga are designed to work with the heat to stretch out the muscles to a point you can’t normally stretch them. At least, that is my understanding of how it works. Other benefits are listed on the Wikipedia page but to get more of an account of the benefits you should call a local hot yoga studio to speak with instructors.
Another way that Bikram Yoga is different then other types of yoga you may be used to is that in Bikram Yoga, you do the same moves every class. There is 26 postures and two breathing exercises that you do every class. I actually enjoy this because then I know what to expect every class.
Is the heat too much?
Well, yes and no. It really depends on you. For me, I felt dizzy frequently and black spots in my vision. My instructor told me that this is actually common for people starting out and that whenever you feel like you may faint, enter child’s pose for a few breaths. I find myself doing this a lot for the first half of class where there is more standing poses. I go with my best friend Marie and she doesn’t need to lay down as frequently as I do. Most of the people in class don’t have to lay down at all since they have been coming for months.
How much does it cost?
The same as other yoga classes. Depending on the studio it can be from $15-$20 for a 90 minute class. I purchased mine on sale on Living Social.
Any first class pointers?
When you go to your first Bikram Yoga class, make sure to arrive early (10-20 minutes) so that you can speak with an instructor who can give you pointers. Bring with you a yoga mat, a large towel to cover your mat, a large water bottle, and deodorant (you will need it). I wear clothes that I would normally wear to exercise, just make sure it is breathable. I wouldn’t wear baggy clothes as it will absorb a lot of sweat and get in the way.
My ending thoughts:
At the end of each class I feel very relaxed and yet energetic at the same time but during class I feel very drained. This balances out to an extent. Will I come back after I finish my package deal? Probably not. It was a rewarding experience but it was a lot of work. If I’ve had a very bad few weeks or feel like I really need a detox then I may consider going back. Otherwise, I’ll go back to my non-hot yoga practice ways.
Have you tried hot yoga? What were your thoughts? Do you practice other kinds of yoga?
[2015 update: I never went back after finishing my Living Social deal. So I stopped going two classes after this original post date. Looking back on it now I feel less positively on the experience.]