Years ago, when I was initially “shopping around” for a yoga studio that suited me back in Ontario, I was open to trying any kind of practice that might be possible with my knee. I had heard a lot about Bikram yoga being taught at a studio downtown, so I decided to give it a go. An interesting article on the creator of Bikram yoga can be found here. As most of you know, Bikram is a series of twenty-six poses in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ll admit, intense exercise in a sauna-like atmosphere didn’t really sound like my idea of a good time, but for the miracle work I heard it could do, I was willing to give it a go.
I was advised, as a newbie, to place my mat closer to the door, where there would be a little more “fresh air”. Hmm. Promptly upon place my mat at said location, I kept asking myself, “And THIS the coolest part of the room?” I was sweating already and I wasn’t even doing anything! And who were the crazy women situated on the opposite side…the hottest part of the room?! Were they nuts? I was also a little put off by the number of women in the class who didn’t even come close to approaching a size two and were all scantily clad in sports bras and short-shorts. I was wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt. It was going to be a long hour and a half.
As it turns out, I spent most of my time in child’s pose on my mat, unable to do anything else without literally blacking out. It was almost funny, actually. When the class was over, I was beyond excited to be one of the first one’s out the door (finally, a benefit to being in the “cool” part of the room!). I arrived in the ladies change room, took off my cotton shirt to wring it out (literally), and I fainted. The instructor and my fellow yoga-lovers rushed to my side and spent the next half an hour trying to peel me from the floor. Solidarity ladies (and the nice man, called out from the men’s change room, to help walk me to my car).
As it turns out, if my doctors are right, then I’ve had this Grave’s Disease for quite a few years. One of the many Grave’s symptoms is an extremely high heart rate and increased blood pressure. And so, Bikram yoga is now out of my reach considering the multitude of blood pressure pills I have to take every day. So there is probably a reason why my body reacted so negatively. And I should say that I know lots of people who a firm believers in the Bikram practice and the healing it provides. But little did I know that this was such a debatable topic! When I researched online, there were slews of forums dedicated to the lovers and haters of Bikram. And the debate was heated, pun intended.
My take on the whole thing? Do what feels good for your body and your body alone. If that means Bikram in a steamy room, then so be it! If that means a series of poses in your living room, great! If you thrive in a classroom with a studied teacher, then that’s where you should be. But whatever your path, you should never close your mind to other options, new practices, and different ways of getting to your yoga destination.