I’ve been a big yoga fan for the past five years. My class preferences vary on my mood. Do I want a challenge? If so, I will take an ever-intense Ashtanga or a quick flowing Anusara class. And if I just need a little zen pick me up, anything labeled “gentle” will do. However, one yoga style I have always shied away from—and a style that is extremely popular—is hot yoga. Mainly I shied away from hot yoga because I wrongly believed hot yoga to be synonymous with Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga, which has a devout following, had left a bad taste in my mouth by reputation alone. I know it’s very alignment based and that the master, Bikram Choudhury, actually copyrighted his series and has since been involved in several legal disputes. To me, that;s the antithesis of what yoga stands for. Plus, I had heard rumors of Bikram teachers telling students that are “doing it wrong” and forbidding them to drink water during practice. My favorite part about my yoga practice is that it’s MY practice, and if I don’t feel like doing something, well I can take myself a nice child’s pose or hang out in downward dog. Unlike bootcamp fitness classes, which I also tried recently, yoga is not the place for harsh words and strict guidelines. I spend most of my classes trying to keep all of my awareness contained on my own mat, not worrying about how I might look to my teacher.
However, hot yoga has been super trendy recently; everyone and their mother (and my mother, too!) talks about how great it is sweating away in 110 degrees. So when I learned that “hot yoga” is not necessarily Bikram style (duh), I signed up for a 10 class card (Tough Mudder training!) at a local place and started going.
I know some people do hot yoga for weight loss—I sweat so much during class I would rather shower at the studio than drive 10 minutes home in the chilly March evening air. While I’m not focused so much on weight loss, I am interested in increasing flexibility, stamina and strength (Tough Mudder training!) and hot yoga will definitely help with that. Plus, I love going outside of my comfort zone (because no one can be comfortable in 110 degrees…) and pushing myself. And I leave the studio with that flushed, I’ve-just-been-frisked glow, and I will never argue with anything that makes me look like that!
Do you do hot yoga? Bikram yoga? Wanna argue the virtues of Bikram? Knock yourself out. I’m all (hot, sweaty) ears.