What do Gwenyth Paltrow, Madonna, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Olympic tennis champion Andy Murray all have in common with well… me? That is other than our sweet dance moves? It’s a passion for and dedication to Bikram Yoga. We like it hot!
As a beat up and inflexible aging athlete, who still thinks I am 25 (I’m in my 4th decade), and is passionate about all things fitness, I thank my lucky stars that I found Bikram Yoga three years ago on a fitness and hiking retreat on Vancouver Island, B.C.
On my final day at Coastal Trek Resort, I got up early, went on a quick hike, came back for some morning yoga poses and a healthy breakfast – just another perfect fitness morning. As I was packing my things up, I ran into my buddy Shayne, my personal hiking czar (a Kiwi who sprint-hikes barefoot). Well, Shayne decided we could fit in one more extreme fitness workout that morning before my flight. So, even though my quads were still burning from our speed hikes the day before, off we went headed to my first Bikram (very hot) Yoga class, without a clue of what I was in for.
For the uninitiated, Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury created from hatha yoga techniques and popularized in the early 1970s.The classes run 90 minutes and consist of a series of 26 postures (see chart) and 2 breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room (the hot room) heated to 105°F, although it feels like 150°F to me most days. Bikram is now the most popular form of hot yoga in the U.S.
So, after Shayne gave me the quick Bikram “411” in the lobby, I headed into my first Bikram class at Bikram Comox Valley and the instructor simply reminded me to “stay in the (hot) room” even if I cannot do all the postures. Well, being as competitive as I am and a seasoned athlete in a variety of sports from soccer to football to lacrosse to tae kwon do to surfing and even beach bocce on Cape Cod, I was going to show her! Ppp-lease. Stay in the room? You talking to me? Bring on your Bikram Yoga!
Well, then came the HEAT… Let’s just say I fought the heat, and the heat won! And the standing series (above photo – that’s “Standing Bow” – my nemesis) was no picnic either. But, I did pretty well for my first class (had to show my man Shayne), and YES I stayed in the hot room for 90 minutes, for which the teacher congratulated me at the end. Now that’s a hard-core workout! I attempted every one of the 26 postures and even learned to control my breathing and sharpen my focus, somewhat, in the VERY hot room.
I can honestly say it was THE BEST & toughest fitness workout I have ever done, and also the most rewarding. And, it was by far THE BEST active stretching and balancing workout to boot. Let me tell ya, I really needed to stretch out and work on my flexibility after a week of crazy vertical hikes out on Vancouver Island. After towelling off from class, Shayne and I jumped off bridge (typical Shayne – the crazy fitness adventures continued) into an icy cold Comox river (it was refreshing). Then we grabbed a healthy smoothie to wrap up my first ultimate Bikram Yoga experience in style!
Well, as you can imagine, I was hooked right away on Bikram Yoga, and I still am today. Once back in Portsmouth, I found out we have a terrific Bikram studio
right here down on Islington St., Bikram Yoga Portsmouth – [they are moving across the street in September to a brand new studio]. So, of course, I signed right up for more hot yoga classes and still love it hot. I attend Bikram Yoga classes 2-3-4 days/week and have become a much healthier eater and much less stressed, and my practice has even helped me heal some nagging sports injuries. Without question, Bikram Yoga has helped bring out MY BEST.
Since I started my Bikram Yoga practice, I have lost 12-15 pounds and dropped 4-5 minutes off my 5K race times. I am more fit, healthier and far more flexible too. It’s been 2 summers since my Bikram awakening and for me and many aging athletes, Bikram is basically our physical therapy, treatment and a fitness workout, wrapped up into one ball of fire. Another benefit of Bikram Yoga is that it can help sharpen your focus and even helps heal some injuries faster, which is why elite athletes like Andy Murray are so HOT about Bikram. Trust me Bikram can help you bring out your best too! Just stay in the room, focus on you, hydrate, hydrate, and lock that standing leg.
Hey, take it from fellow Bikram yogis George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore or the Mountain View (Oregon) championship H.S. football team. Bikram is helping them all stay more fit, focused, flexible and bring out their best as a team! – (check out the MVHS team in the hot room). Bikram Yoga is HOT, HOT, HOT. Stay in the room and keep breathing. Namaste.