Anyone who has attended a Bikram class will recognize the title as something many instructors will recite during class. I went to Bikram once upon a time last year, not realizing how different it was from my previous “hot yoga” classes. I thought they were the same thing; I was definitely wrong. I remember thinking, “Why is she yelling at me? I can’t go any deeper. Is this supposed to feel so awful?” I felt like a total failure so I went to Lululemon after and bought a pair of yoga pants. A hundred-dollar investment to make myself feel like I could be a yogi one day.
Fortunately, I didn’t give up. I decided to continue going and figure it out somehow. I often hear people not liking Bikram for that reason – the whole drill-sergeant vibe – but I really don’t see it as that. I love the Bikram dialogue, it forces yourself to push yourself but also really ease into the posture as you master it. (By way of background: Bikram yoga is performed in a heated room for 90 minutes. It involves 26 postures, and there is no real chanting / meditation like other practices. There are three main segments: the standing series, the balancing series, and the floor series; each is around 25-30 minutes. On another note, there are some politics surrounding the founder, Bikram Choudhury, who only allows those he has trained and certified to teach his practice and use the name Bikram)
Eventually, I was going to yoga stores buying itty bitty shorts and began feeling comfortable half-naked in a 105-degree room. I went for several months… until the summer came. I couldn’t keep up with hydrating myself in the heat and with yoga, so I eased into riding my bike around the city.
Now that I’m running basically every day, I know I need to work on my strength and flexibility. I started spinning last week and am adding Bikram back as my “winter sport.” I was surprised when I went last night for the first time in months how much stronger my legs were from running. I have no balance whatsoever so I still struggle with the balancing series (mainly postures 5 & 6), but I am able to keep my standing leg locked now. Much better than where I was six months ago.
Do you try to integrate yoga as a type of cross-training? If so, what types do you practice? Would love to hear your experiences with other kinds!