I'm lying in a puddle of my own sweat. I feel the blood rushing through my body. A pounding headache is developing. I reach for my Nalgene only to find that my ice cold water has turned into lukewarm tea.
This is Bikram Yoga. It's been 30 minutes.
A Bikram Yoga class is 90 minutes of 26 postures performed in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity.
If you just read that and said, "WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT?!?!?", I feel ya, sister.
Despite the hellish temperature, Bikram is supposedly great for you. It can detoxify the body, heal chronic pain and help tone your muscles.
I found that it helped greatly with my day one period cramps. I walked in practically doubled over in pain, but the class relieved my cramping for the next 24 hours.
One thing it definitely didn't help with was the hormonal headache that I felt blooming shortly before class. Working out in a hot room is dehydrating by nature, so that, combined with the studio's fluorescent lights and the instructor's less-than-calming voice, didn't do me any favors.
All in all, I wouldn't be opposed to trying Bikram again. If you're considering joining me in the sweat factory, here are some things to consider:
Hydrate! I thought I had consumed enough water before the class, but I was clearly wrong. I would recommend doubling your usual water intake before the course
Don't over do it. Heated rooms can make you feel more flexible than you really are, causing you to over extend and putting you at risk for injury. Consider your own ability and do modified poses when you need to.
Set an intention for the practice. Aim for an achievable goal for your first class, like paying attention to your breathing. I decided that my only goal was to stay in the class for the full 90 minutes and try everything to the best of my ability. I walked out feeling successful and encouraged, even if I didn't get all the poses exactly right.
Wear less clothing. I wore cropped leggings and a loose tee shirt, and I wish I had worn less. You'll see people practicing Bikram in glorified underwear, basically. I'm not quite confident enough for that approach, but maybe a sleeveless shirt would have been a good idea.