Birkram Yoga, founded by Bikram Choudhury, is a practice consisting of 26 poses in a room that is heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat helps your body to burn fat more effectively, increase muscle elasticity and to bring more oxygen to the muscles, which in turn helps remove waste such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Bikram not only works your muscles, but it works out your internal organs: the glands and nervous system.
About three years 3 ago I tried Bikram Yoga, but I figured it was time I actually tried it for a few weeks at a time to really get a grasp on whether I like it or not. Yesterday was day one at Bikram Yoga Manhattan in Soho (one of their 3 locations). The Spring Street studio is pretty basic: a small waiting room with a water cooler and coat rack and two changing rooms with showers that I probably wonâ€™t ever shower in. The instructor, Byron, who was wearing a very small piece of clothing (his almost shorts) was also the receptionist. I paid $20 for 7 days of practice -- a typical first-time Bikram fee.
Because itâ€™s hotter than a tropical country, you need very little clothing; I only wore a sports bra and short shorts because anything else would have been too muchâ€¦meanwhile it was 32 degrees and snowing outside. The class started out with Pranayama Breathing where you should be inhaling six pounds of oxygen in six seconds, but I apparently need some practice because I could only go for maybe three seconds. This pose has been proven to not only increase oxygen content to the bloodstream and quadruple lung capacity, but it strengthens leg and abdominal muscles, among other things.
I was literally dripping sweat (I hate the word literally, but itâ€™s completely appropriate in this context) from every part of my body, even from the bottom of my feet. At one point we were doing the pose Dandayamana Janushirasana where I had to interlock my fingers around my right foot while trying to straighten my right leg and lock my knee while keeping my left leg locked â€“ the problem was that my hands kept slipping off my foot. As the class progressed each pose became a little more invigorating and difficult, but each was in preparation for the next. Toward the end of class, we lay in Savasana (dead body pose) in order to return circulation to normal and sustain concentration before progressing. Savasana is also a great way to improve hypertension, nervousness, anxiety, and irritability and generally just feels good at the end of any workout.
Indeed Bikram is a challenge, but I learned that itâ€™s not whether you can do the pose to its full extent, but that you concentrate and use the will power to hold that pose for one minute or more without losing focus. I like this concept and can incorporate the inspiration into my day-to-day routine, in both business and personal situations.
I donâ€™t want to go to class on Thursday morning at 7am for 90 minutes (the class is offered at many different times), but I know that once 8:31 rolls around, I will be more than thrilled that I made that decision. I will keep you posted on the next days of my practice.