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I’ve had several friends extolling the virtues of Bikram yoga to me over the years, but have always felt it wasn’t my thing. Then this past week and a half I’ve been in Northern California without much to do, so I decided to do a trial run at the local studio. After all, it was $20 for a 10-day trial and the place was merely a 8-minute walk from the place I was staying.

I started last Thursday and went a total of five times, and I’m still not sure whether it’s actually good for me or just self-selected torture.

Something about being in an 105-degree room simply doesn’t seem natural. And on days such as Friday morning when there were 25 people packed like sardines, the room gets even hotter. (It was 110 degrees and I was also in the sun spot. Womp.)

Pros:

– It certainly gives you a sense of accomplishment. The first day it was hard to even stay in the room and I had to sit down a good number of times throughout the 90-minute routine. By the third time I could get through it all and was more focused on making sure my poses were correct.

– It’s a wonderful stretch for your body. Just as metals are more malleable when heated, so are our bodies.

– It helps release toxins from your body, leaving your skin clearer and organs purer. I can’t verify that my organs actually got a cleansing, but studies have shown positive results. My skin was noticeably cleaner though.

– There is a set routine so you know what you’re getting into. It allows you to perfect the poses instead of trying to catch up with new moves every class.

Cons:

– It felt absolutely miserable. Regardless of how you put it, it was not exactly fun. I was too busy trying to do the poses to count the minutes (and too busy trying to stay alive in the heat), but it was always a relief once we were done. I think the only thing pushing me through was knowing I’d be off to Europe and my commitment ended on Friday.

– It makes you incredibly fatigued. It’s possible this is a result of my being sick during my Bikram trial, but on most days I was languid and lackluster after class. There would be an initial burst of energy, followed by a semi-conscious state the rest of the day. This may also be a beginners’ issue – others who were new talked about how they avoided morning classes because it made their work day extra long.

– It takes up a lot of time. The routine is 90 minutes and if you add in pre-class changing and post-class showering and chatter, it’s more than 2 hours each day.

– It’s not exactly cheap. My trial was a steal, namely because it was a trial designed to get you to try Bikram. But usually classes are $15 each, with small discounts for monthly passes and packages. For someone who hasn’t paid for a gym since age 14 (I’ve either worked at one or had it included in my tuition since that time), this price point may be a bit high.

– You bloat while trying to re-hydrate. As lean and great as you look during the class, the post-session replenishing of the body’s water supply isn’t the best aesthetically. That, or I drank way too much water. [Highly possible seeing how I finished 2 cases of water, that’s about 50 bottles, in two days while I was sick.]

Verdict:

If I weren’t already invested in other activities such as ballroom and tango, perhaps I’d appropriate some of my time to Bikram. But since I am, it seems too miserable of an exercise choice to continue in the long run. I may drop in at a studio wherever I am in the world, but I doubt I’ll become a convert anytime soon.

Are you part of the cult and want to try to convince me to go back? Or did you absolutely hate it? Let me know!

[P.S. – I’m currently at the Houston International Airport waiting for my connection to Europe. I will try to update as much as possible while overseas, but things may be erratic while I settle in there. Thank you for the well wishes from everyone.]

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