A few days ago I found myself standing, with no more than 6 inches between us, next to a mostly naked total stranger. I was dripping with sweat in a dimly lit humid dank room of 104 degrees stretching my body in a series of challenging poses for 90 minutes – not something I would intuitively have thought of as healthy or fun!

After much frustration at trying to find the perfect yoga class I decided this week to give Bikram a go www.hotbikramyoga.co.uk and luckily had a friend to accompany me who was also experiencing the great sweat for the first time. It was extraordinary in many ways:

Firstly, the fact that you are semi-naked in rather exposing forms. Even though you are told to keep your eyes on yourself in the mirror, it is hard to resist taking a little peak at some of the sights that you find yourself hotly amongst.

Secondly, it is a physical and mental challenge to remain in the intense heat. When we did have a chance to lie down I could feel my heart literally pounding on the towel as if it was saying – we seriously need to get out of her before we explode!

I have done yoga on and off in various styles for many years, but this was unique and for those who consider yoga to be religious in some way – I can honestly say Bikram is something in its own camp. If some do consider it a religion then that was lost on me. I believe it is a personal discipline and challenge to maneuver your body into 26 different poses while remembering to keep breathing and drinking so as to survive the 90 minutes without dehydration and/or passing out.

The teacher is certainly not your calm tree-hugging yogi uttering a series of melodious and relaxing chants or OM’s – nor is there the fragrance of cleansing incense burning. Think total opposite, and you have someone with a headset on delivering instructions in an almost hypnotic way that is aimed at eliminating the need to think and more to just act and allow the body to mould its way into shapes it never knew possible.

Despite my account of it as seeming like a rather harrowing and absurd experience, it left me feeling incredibly cleansed, light and with a real sense of achievement. My friend has already been back and I will be too this week.

When you are new to yoga you struggle to get into a pose, or to do it well, and feel frustrated when you watch a more advanced practitioner doing it with relative ease. For many of the standing poses one falls out of them and initially has a sense of failing but when the instructor says – don’t worry if you fall out, just get straight back into it and try again – you realise that the worst that can happen is you fall out and so you start again.

I find yoga great parallel for life as our physical bodies reflect so much of what is going on for us mentally. The principle of yoga is based on the fact that each pose is designed to energise and release toxins from various parts of our bodies. When we learn to let go mentally we are able to go further physically and when we let go physically we seem to be able to go further mentally

So if you are looking for some warmth and a serious challenge then find your nearest Bikram yoga centre and have a go at experiencing the joys of sweating and adding a new dimension to your life. I would love to hear how you get on.

2 Responses to “Love Your Sweat”

  1. I thought I would share some of the feedback I got on this blog as it was so varied. The majority of people who have tried Bikram yoga only a few times really hated it – mainly the heat.

    People felt sick and faint. It does require discipline to eat a few hours before so you have enough energy to get through the 90minutes but not too soon before that you feel sick and NEVER do it on an empty stomach. The main issue with the heat is that people are not hydrated enough before they start so end up having bad headaches. This is easily avoidable by drinking a lot before, during and after.

    The positive feedback was that people felt mentally stronger as they were able to cope better with the heat each time. Cleansed as they felt their toxins had all been washed away and physically stronger because the heat allows you to get into the poses more easily and so there was a real sense of achievement in being able to get their bodies into positions they never thought possible.

    I am still going but due to other commitments can only get there once a week but still I feel great for it on many levels and my friend who I started going with is short of being a Bikram yoga addict and she hasn’t ever done yoga before. She says she loves the challenge on all levels.

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to Bikram Hot Yoga. I still remember how nervous we were watching everyone coming out of the earlier class dripping in sweat and looking absolutely exhausted.

    Having never done any type of yoga, not good at relaxing, dislikes hot environments I saw this as a once only experience. But I am pleased to say I was wrong and I now go to classes 5 times a week and I absolutely love it!

    With the help and guidance of the instructors you very quickly feel comfortable in the class. Suddenly you are focusing on yourself and the rest of the room seems to disappear into the background as you become aware of your breathing and you start to develop the mental strength and stamina to stay in each of the poses and handle the heat.

    The instructors are always shouting out encouraging and motivational comments. My favorite being “keep you mind still and don’t let it race away like a naughty child” and “don’t worry if you fall out of the pose, it is like life just pick yourself up and get back into it”. I find myself repeating both of these in everyday life, one to stop my mind racing when I get stressed or start to panic about something and the other to remind myself to accept new challenges head on.

    I am not sure about all of the medical benefits that Birkram mentions but I am definitely more relaxed, drink more water and sleep better as a result of these classes.

    If you are looking for a new challenge, then I highly recommend that you go and experience the “love your sweat challenge”. It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

    Hilbre look forward to seeing in another class soon.

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