I’m a huge fan of yoga, but I’ve never been able to maintain it as part of my life for longer than six months at a time.
I took my first Ashtanga yoga class in 10th grade, and I was hooked.
I went consistently after school – twice a week – for about, well, six months.
I loved the changes I felt in my mind and body after just a handful of classes.
But alas, I fell off my yoga routine as I felt I was becoming busier and more stressed, which is ironically why I started practicing yoga in the first place.
Senior year, I picked up an at-home yoga practice, following YouTube videos on my own.
Again, I dropped off after a few months.
Then, about a year and half later, my mom had some exciting news.
She’d purchased twelve classes for us to take at a Bikrim, or “Hot Yoga” studio.
While there is quite a lot of controversy over Bikrim Yoga, mainly because the guy who started it is a total creep, thousands of people preach about the benefits hot yoga can have on your mind and body.
I was pretty stoked to try it out, especially considering I’d been in a sedentary slump for a year or so and wanted desperately to get fit again.
So I strapped up my yoga mat, squeezed into my yoga pants and hauled it to the yoga studio.
My mom was beaming with excitement too. Neither of us had a single clue what to expect.
As soon as I entered the yoga room, my initial thought was: “wow, it’s hot in here”.
Generally, Bikrim studios heat their rooms to about 108° F – which for me, a Northern California native, is melting temperature.
I rolled out my mat and began some gentle warm-up poses.
Looking around the room, I was comforted in the fact that there were plenty of people who also looked a little out of place. If you’ve ever been to any group yoga classes as a beginner, you might know that there are also those couple of people who you can’t even begin to comprehend when – or if – you’ll ever get to their level.
Then the instructor walked in, fit as heck, (of course) and had us all stand up at the front edge of our mats.
We started with some standing breathing exercises.
I knew I was in for some trouble when I was getting winded from breathing exercises.
About halfway into our standing practice, I began feeling a little lightheaded.
I ran through a couple more poses, then had to take a Bālāsana, or Child’s Pose on my mat from dizziness.
By the end of the class, I was exhausted.
My mom and I looked at each other, our faces the shade of an over-ripe tomato, and shared a moment of “oh dear”.
About four classes in, I started getting the hang of this Bikrim Yoga situation.
I had memorized the flow, which was very helpful, and could run through the standing postures without needing to sit down.
By my seventh class, I was a pro.
I not only ran through the poses perfectly, but I was getting a deeper stretch each time.
While I was focused and felt solid during class, the heat was often distracting and so uncomfortable that I would have to come out of my pose before my body was ready, simply because I felt I couldn’t get enough air.
Even after I’d gotten the poses down, I never got fully used to the heat.
After class, I felt refreshed and tranquil in one sense, but I also felt physically and energetically drained and exhausted in a way that I couldn’t shake for the entire rest of the day.
Towards the end of my twelve classes, going to Bikrim Yoga class began to feel like a chore.
In the end, I didn’t renew my pass.
Neither did mom.
Here are my final thoughts on Bikrim Yoga.
I think it’s wonderful for those who want to take their yoga practice to another level. Some people say it actually helps open up their bodies and allow them to sink deeper into their poses, as well as their meditation.
I’ve also known several people who saw a major transformation in their physique from practicing Bikrim Yoga.
If a friend were to ask me if they should take hot yoga, I would say go for it!
But, I would also recommend taking a few regular yoga classes first, especially if they’ve never practiced any yoga before.
As far as my own preferences go, I will stick to room temperature yoga going forward. I feel that I get more out of it, and I can really focus on stretching and breathing rather than wondering if I should sit down or not for my safety.
Obviously, this could totally just be my own heat tolerance and maybe even the level of toxicity in my body. But I also want to preach that not every thing is for every body.
And my body is not one of those bodies that wants to do Bikrim Yoga.
In the near future, I would love to get back into a regular yoga routine – for now, I make sure to do at least fifteen minutes of yoga flow after every workout!
Have you ever tried Bikrim Yoga? Are you a fan? I want to know!
Drop a comment or message me on Instagram and let me know.
Peace & Healing,
xoxo – Mackenna