Monday, May 31, 2010

Turning Up The Heat

This weekend I decided to kick my yoga practice into overdrive... turn up the heat, if you will. I went with some friends to my first Bikram yoga class. For those of you who don't know, Bikram yoga is a 90 minute class in a heated room. The room usually gets between 95-105 degrees. I know it sounds totally crazy and it is. But it is also a great workout, once you get past the constant sweating.

Yoga, in general, is great for your flexibility, strength and balance. It also helps clear your mind and calm your soul. So it amazed me to learn that just by adding some heat you can double the benefits. Hot yoga flushes all the toxins out of your system, makes yoga a cardiovascular workout, burns more calories and improves your immune system. The heat also makes your muscles stretch more easily, reducing the risk of injury.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first hot yoga experience. I think since I am use to the yoga poses, the only thing I had to contend with was the heat and sweat. The guy next to me had puddles of sweat all around him. It was quite disgusting.

I do have some advice for those of you thinking about giving Bikram yoga a try. First, don't run before going to class. I did a 5K training run a couple hours run before class. I felt fine in the beginning, but then came the warrior poses (lunges). After several of these strength building poses, my legs started to shake. It could just mean I'm a weakling, but I think the running had a bit to do with it. Second, try to arrive to class early. Unfortunately my friends and I were running a bit behind, so by the time we arrived the only spots left were right next to the heater. I ended up the closest to the dreaded heat machine. I could feel the heat blowing on me the entire class. And third, while you may think wearing yoga shorts and a sports bra is a good idea, it really isn't. The sports bra is ok, if you wore a shirt or a tank top it would be soaked with sweat. But the yoga shorts weren't the best idea. There are poses where you have to balance your foot on the inside of your leg, but of course, my foot just slipped right down my leg because off all the sweat. It's also more difficult to grab your legs when you need to. So capris would probably work best.

I definitely think I'll be giving Bikram yoga another try real soon. I was not sore the next day, probably because the heat takes some of the stress off your muscles. I also felt great and my complexion looked better from all the sweating. If you're interested, the place I went to was called Yoga Energy Studio in St. Petersburg. The teacher was great and there isn't a set price for class. You're just asked to donate what you can afford. There is also a studio called Yogani in Tampa that is suppose to be nice.

Namaste :)