Friday, June 1, 2012


Today I took a new yoga class.  It's something that I wanted to do for a long time just out of curiosity. So, what’s the big deal, right?

Well, this was a Bikram yoga class.  You take the class in a classroom that is heated to about 105 degrees and 40% humidity.  Yaay!  And today, because we were having 107 degrees in Las Vegas, the instructor said we probably had 110 degrees in the room.

Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures, including 2 pranayama exercises (breathing).  This yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury, who was born in Calcutta, India in 1946.  These days there are Bikram studios all over the world.

The studios who teach this kind of yoga have to be Bikram approved.  They are built in such a way that they always get the proper heating.  Bikram calls these studios “Torture Chambers.”  Only Bikram certified teachers are used as instructors and all classes are 90 minutes long.

The benefits of this class, just to mention a few, are:  it flushes away the toxins of the organs of your body, it helps the circulatory system, it helps the respiratory system, brings nourishment to every cell of your body and adds flexibility and strength to your body.  The heat further helps the cleansing process because when you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.  

Ok, so there was a preparation to go to this class.  I was given the following instructions:

-          - You must arrive 20 minutes prior to the class
-          - Please bring a mat & towel or one can be rented or purchased.
-          - MUST bring a lock for your locker and 2 bottles of water to keep hydrated.
-          - HYDRATE before class and DO NOT EAT at least 2 hours prior to class.


As I arrived at the studio, I was not as excited as I thought I would be.  I guess new things are usually intimidating.  Not that I’m new to yoga, but Bikram was certainly new and out of my comfort zone.  I was aware that I haven't done much yoga since I moved to Las Vegas because I haven't been able to find a good instructor. When I lived in California I religiously took yoga twice a week.  I was also feeling sleepy since I had not had my 8 hours of sleep. So I knew that this class was going to be challenging in many ways.  

In my classes at the gym, I'm always standing in front.  But today I wanted to be in the back, in the least visible corner of the room.  It didn't happen.  All the guys had taken the back row.
The class was packed, even though it was Friday at 1 pm.  I was in the classroom 10 minutes before the class and the moment you enter the room you feel the heat and start sweating.  I have to say that I also had other concerns.  Although I have an incredible tolerance for heat, I had heard of people who took the class for the first time and got nauseous and had to leave the room.  So I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay the whole 90 minutes.

To make my presence more conspicuous, the instructor announced that there were two new people in the class and she mentioned my name and the name of a young lady that was visiting from Japan. 

Some postures were pretty basic, others more challenging.  Granted, your body drips with sweat and you have to constantly use the towel to wipe off your sweat from your face and eyes during the class. 

The class seemed like an eternity, but I finished the class.  At the end my towels were soaked.  The instructor thanked the visitors, she said that we did great and we got an applause. 

The one thing that I didn’t like about this class was that there's no music.   For this musicological character, that was unexpected and disappointing.   I'm used to taking yoga with relaxing background music.  Although I must confess that, in this occasion, between the heat and my struggle to do the poses, I had no time to think much about music. 

The other thing that I didn’t like was that the instructor constantly speaks throughout the class explaining the postures.  I was longing for moments of silence.  I found all that talking even more annoying than the heat.

The third thing that I didn’t like was that these classes are all 90 minutes and I found that too long.  I think that for this kind of class, 45 minutes to one hour is more than enough.  But because they want to do all the 26 postures in one class, 90 minutes are needed.  I prefer less postures and slower transitions.
Just one word of caution.  All Bikram yoga is hot, but not all hot yoga is Bikram.  Some have used Bikram yoga without Choudhury authorization or have opened studios using different names.  There have been lawsuits that Choudhury won, but that’s another subject.

Did I like it?  Will I do it again?

No.  No.  However, I was happy that I took this class today because I like to try new things and for the longest time I wanted to have the Bikram experience. 

This Bikram class was no fun, not relaxing and not enjoyable.  

I love yoga. But I much rather take a regular yoga class with relaxing background music, and the soft voice, beautiful tone and inspiring words of a good instructor.  For me, there's nothing better than getting a good sweat by your own physical efforts.      

But these classes are very popular, so for some people it works.  Mr. Choudhury was right to call it "Torture Chambers."

Choudhury was also right when he said, "Never too old, never too late, never too sick, never too bad to start from scratch and begin again."  I like that.

So what was the best part of my class?

It was f r e e.  :) 


  1. Great post!!! And free is always good!!!! Always! Hopping around your blog this morning---glad you stopped by mine!!!

    1. Ok, now you made my Sunday too! A compliment from Beth Ann is all I needed. I admire you and I appreciate the encouragement. I still have a lot to learn. Thank you Beth.