There are several advertised benefits of heated yoga from making challenging postures accessible, reducing injuries as your body is more pliable to the heat acting as a natural detox. In fact, Choudhury Bikram (the Bikram founder) has claimed that his yoga could cure any ailment.
Yesterday, I decided to see what all the hype is about. I went to my first heated yoga class. Everyone I talk to has been raving about the benefits of heated yoga. However, I was really wary. I have low blood pressure and I was worried that the warm environment (the room was heated to 104) would cause me to get dizzy or even worse faint.
I went in a half an hour early and discussed with the yoga instructor my fear. She was great on relieving my anxiety and suggested that I purchase some electrolytes. I purchased one, got changed and walked into a yoga sauna.
Wow, it was hot. But a really nice hot, kind of like a warm day at the beach. I went into class early (as suggested) and lied in Savasana. This gave both my mind and body time to adjust to the heat. After about 15 minutes, I was anxious to get started and curious about how my mind and body would deal with performing posture in the heat.
The instructor began by turning off the music, and allowing us to listen to our breath. The united breath of twenty students became the soundtrack of the class. I found this technique extremely comforting and soothing.
And then we started moving. The pace was a lot faster than I had anticipated, but manageable. And in the back of my head there was the instructor’s comments, ‘if you get dizzy or find it’s too much, lie down.” In fact, she had told me that most people spend the first two to three classes lying down. “The first thing that you need to adjust too is the heat and find your breath, ” Rupi, the Moksha instructor told me. “After that the movements will come.”
I was wet, or as the instructor lovingly called it nice and juicy. For someone who hates sweating, this was a challenge for me. But I took a deep breath (well several of them), grabbed my closely placed towel and kept moving. The postures were familiar (as they are based on hatha), and the pace was similar to that of a flow class. This I later discovered is one of the differences between moksha and bikram. Moksha yoga offers a variety of class styles from moksha flow to prenatal. In Bikram the pattern remains the same in every class, 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises.
After the Class
I made it through and surprisingly really enjoyed it. The heated room was exactly what I needed in the freezing cold winter (it was like a mini oasis). The heat made the asanas, particularly the warrior series simpler. However, some postures (particularly the inverted ones) I opted out of and remained in either child’s pose or Savasana.
Later in the day, I had a bit of headache. But after a drink some water with a wee bit of salt in it all was well. If anything attending these classes will remind me of the importance of being hydrated.