The Problem with Bikram Yoga

I recently purchased a Groupon for a local Bikram Yoga studio. For $30 I get 10 classes. It was a great deal so I bought it on sight, and a friend followed suit.

I was worried about my friend who has a heart condition that is made worse in hot, humid conditions. She regularly passes out on gross summer days. Doing yoga in a 105 degree room seemed ill-advised. A few minutes into the first class she thought she’d have to give up, but she stuck it out and by the time we got to our second class she had acclimated and did much better.

I, however, still dread going. If this wasn’t a group activity, I think I’d give up. It’s not that it’s hard, because it’s not — at least not the yoga part. I’ve done yoga off and on for years, and the 26 poses done in Bikram are not all that challenging — though they are, of course, harder when you’re sweating profusely and dizzy. I have no problem sitting out a posture if I suddenly feel like passing out, and since many of the people in class are other Grouponers, they are also new to class and sitting out many of the poses. The problem with Bikram is that it strikes me as yoga for people who are hyper-competitive. I imagine helicopter parents and people with OCD enjoy it very much. But I don’t find it relaxing in the least.

Most of the time when you do yoga there’s some soothing music, the lights are out, and the teacher is speaking in hushed tones about relaxing, honoring your body, and breathing. At Bikram the lights are on and, at l east in my case, the teachers are yelling about pushing harder, going deeper, and breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. (That’s actually a valuable tip. You see an almost instant difference when you start breathing through your mouth.) The instructor at our second class was a Yogi Drill Sergeant, yelling at people about not leaving the room, and God forbid you should attempt to do anything other than sit or lie down when taking a break. One lady tried to mimic the pose we were doing while she sat on the floor and the instructor’s head nearly blew off. She even called two girls to come talk to her after class because instead of lying completely still at the end of class, one tried to get a drink of  water.

Last time I checked, I was paying to be there and I am not in need of a lecture. If I were those girls I would have left and made a point of not returning to one of her classes.

This is not why I go to yoga. I go to yoga to stretch, relax, and build strength. I’ve often gone to yoga on Monday nights to ease back into a gym routine after the weekend. And I don’t think there is a single minute during Bikram when I feel remotely relaxed. The routine is also fixed. You do the same 26 poses every class. I need more variety and challenge than that. At some point the heat becomes the only challenge, and I’m not sure how someone could come back year after year to the same set-in-stone class.

I’m also a little creeped out by the way the instructors look. Practicing with a trainer of any sort that does not have a body you’d want is like going to a hairdresser with bad hair. So far most of the women who seem to practice a lot of Bikram have that scary Madonna look about them. I do not want to look like that and if that’s what regularly practicing Bikram gets you, well, I’m out.

200 thoughts on “The Problem with Bikram Yoga

  1. Paula says:

    I’ve been doing Bikram yoga since October 2011. None of the instructors at Bikram Yoga Rockville have EVER reprimanded students. Maybe it’s just the studio where you practiced. Maybe that’s why they did a Groupon promotion– they need new clients because they keep scaring everyone away! I would definitely consider finding another Bikram studio before discounting the style completely. It’s changed my life, and I don’t mean by giving me Madonna arms. Namaste. 🙂

  2. Mikalee Byerman says:

    Ha! I’m just drafting a post, and Bikram yoga is included — as a “fad” that I just don’t get!

    I hate being hot. I hate sweating. I hate humidity. I’m not a huge fan of exercise (though i push through it…). So why — I mean really, WHY — would I torture myself like this?

    I’m with you. Women against Bikram yoga, unite! 😉

    • Annie Stoppelbein says:

      Bikram Yoga has been around for four decades… and is based on a lineage thousands of years old. So, no, it’s not a fad.

    • theamberlight says:

      Mikalee took all of my comments! 🙂 I am figuring that the people who find this something useful to balalnce their bodies must be sub-consciously punishing themselves or conscoiusly think that if they suffer enough it will make up for the things they think they have done “wrong” in life.
      I had never even heard of such until I read this post. I find is you do yoga properly, no extra heat is needed to sweat and get you metabolism up.
      And last, I love my womanly curves and definitely DO NOT want to look like Madonna or Courtney Cox….Skin stretched over bones, sunk in face N.O.!!!

      • K says:

        What does hot yoga have to do with losing your womanly curves? Hot yoga alone can’t be blamed for drastic weight loss and certainly will not lead to you losing “womanly curves”. Unless maybe it’s done to an extreme – but that will happen with any other fitness plan too.

  3. Cathy says:

    I’m on the other side. I think Bikram is fun, no need to keep on wiping your face from sweat since everyone is in the same situation. Gross but beneficial. At least for me 🙂

  4. backgroundbird says:

    Thanks for this point of view. I’ve tried a number of different styles of yoga over the past couple of years, anywhere from vinyasa to hatha to yin to kundalini (which is my particular favorite!), and I’ve always been intrigued by what I’ve heard about Bikram. People who hear I do yoga immediately tell me that I have to try it, but I’m just not so inclined. I do yoga to work on my breathing and on centering myself in my body, and while I understand and enjoy the benefits of washing out toxins in sequences in kundalini and such, the thought of Bikram has just never fully appealed to me.

  5. Laura says:

    Thank you for this. As much as I love Bikram, every time I go I am hit with this love hate struggle in which I love the heat and feel afterwards like I accomplished something, but during the class feel like I am doing anything but relaxing, breath-conscious yoga. Yet I love it enough to still go back regularly . . .

  6. justkeepbreathing says:

    i love Bikram Yoga…but i have to admit it’s not for people looking for a great exercise, but rather looking for a great lifestyle. Bikram is a lot about meditation, more so than regular Yoga. the rules they have regarding water breaks and interruption (leaving the room) are in place for Bikram practicers, not for the instructor. It’s all about focusing on yourself and getting in touch with your body. If you have people interrupting that process, it hinders it. I definitely don’t reccomend it as something to just do out of boredom, but rather something u decide to do to make a part of your life. It’s great that you gave it a shot though. I agree with you on the Madonna arms. Not all yogis look like that, i promise. I’m pretty curvy and ive been doing yoga for quite awhile. Bikram is a wonderful practice though. Day 1 always sucks, so try again 🙂

    • ladybug68 says:

      Hello justkeepbreathing, It is horribly incorrect to say that Bikram is a lot about medidation, more so than regular Yoga. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but the statement is most definitely false depending on which form of yoga you are speaking of. I would venture to say that Bikram yoga should be called Bikram only.

      • Any says:

        Bikram yoga is also called a moving meditation. Whether it is more or less meditative than another form of yoga really shouldn’t be the point. And as for the name…a rose is still a rose by any other name and Bikram yoga is still yoga.

      • Rafael says:

        I have been practicing anusara, hatha, ashtanga, kundalini, power yoga and bikram for more than 15 years. Bikran may be fun and a great exercise but I do not consider it yoga. In Bikram ther’s absolutely NO meditation. Bikram practitioners –including myself– go for the intense sweat and excersice. You can achieve that by running at noon in Florida. Bikram even has competitions something regular yoga does not encourage. To me Bikram is just excersice, for real yoga experience I go to another style.

      • 52in52 says:

        Although it took me a very long time to achieve this, I am definitely able to meditate during Bikram classes (I have been practicing 5 days a week for 4 years). Meditation is much more difficult to achieve in Bikram because you’re in fluorescent light, the instructor is constantly yelling, and the heat is so intense. But that is precisely the point. If you can meditate there, you can meditate ANYWHERE. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live my every day life in a candlelit darkened room of a quiet yoga studio, so being able to calm myself in stressful situations by being present and focusing on the breath is very helpful.

      • DavidS says:

        Rafael, if that were true (15 years?), you would know Bikram yoga *is* hatha yoga.

  7. catnipkiss says:

    I love, love, love Bikram yoga. It completely changed my body and started me on a deeper path to spirituality. But I agree on many points. I don’t know why the teachers are usually so strict (and un-yoga like!) But not all are like this. I think the training encourages them to adhere to certain standards – like not allowing changes or modifications to the poses, insisting that students don’t move or itch or drink water, etc., and some take this power and RUN with it. I typically ignore them; smile and get the drink I need. (You’re not the boss of me!) But in general, the series itself – and the repetition – allows the student to improve in leaps and bounds, strengthens body and mind. I also enjoy other types of yoga, and need to do many other classes because of the limited series. As a student of yoga, I like studios that have a similar series and hot room but also provide other classes. Having said this, I do love a LOT about Bikram (give it a try for a while if you can, and watch how your body changes. And no, I don’t look like Madonna, I kept all my curves, but they’re much firmer now!)

    • Ddiddy says:

      Yes to everything you said. I just started Bikram 2 weeks ago (a la groupon) and I love it. I’m generously curvy and some of the postures are difficult for me but each day I go back I feel stronger and closer to getting in to hard postures. I can understand some points being made about the instructors being so rigid. It’s a script they follow but I wouldn’t condone someone berating me. So glad that hasn’t been my experience.

  8. cravesadventure says:

    I have practiced yoga for a while now and you have to find the instructor and type of class you enjoy. I despise a vocal yoga instructor where they want you to chant, hum, just be vocal throughout the class; did I join karate by accident. See if you can get a full or partial refund and move on to a yoga class you enjoy doing. Hang in there and thanks for sharing. Congrats on being FP!

  9. Oranges and Avocados says:

    I have never tried Bikram yoga, but back when I was hyper-competitive, as you say, I was drawn to it. I liked sweating, working out like a maniac, being hardcore and muscled like Madonna. Then I studied Ayurvedic medicine and learned about my Pitta constitution (hot, competitive, quick tempered, sweaty). I learned why I was drawn to many things were aggravating instead of balancing to my body and mind. I see the benefit of Bikram for people who are of a naturally sluggish or cold constitution (Kapha), but I stick to walking and meditation now and am happier and healthier for it.

    • Element Studio (@ElementStudioMM) says:

      “I see the benefit of Bikram for people who are of a naturally sluggish or cold constitution (Kapha)”

      That is me! I’d much rather do a mild, meditative yoga, but when I do a Bikram or Power Yoga class (which really is not what I’m inclined toward!), the effects are amazing. It pushes me out of my rather extreme end of the spectrum & I’m sure balances me out.

      The Bikram drill sargent is a scary idea & not what I’ve experienced whatsoever! I understand the competition perception, but I’ve appreciated my fellow classmates and how they choose to bow out of poses when it’s too difficult for them. I feel no pressure from either the teacher or my peers.

  10. mypathforward says:

    Thank you for your post! I practiced bikram for five years and thoroughly enjoyed every class. For a while I was going five to six times a week and enjoyed the discipline and the structure. I experienced none of the issues you mention – my teachers were respectful and helpful. I switched to moksha yoga both for the variety and due to price, but I often miss bikram.

  11. giggloki says:

    I once read and article by a woman who was talking about a movie she had watched recently. She said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘I’ve just wasted my money on a movie I’m not enjoying, what’s the point of then wasting my time?’ No shame in leaving something that isn’t for you. 🙂

  12. Shari says:

    Although I’ve never been to a Bikram yoga class, I have heard very similar tales from those who have (hence me not going). Sounds like it’s not isolated to a particular class or studio; this is obviously quite common, and may be part of their ‘philosophy’ as it were. There are much better yoga styles out there, so don’t waste your time with this one if it’s not your thing. You may have to forgo some of what you paid, but it will be worth the price of your sanity!

    Oh, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  13. andreahood says:

    I do like Bikram, but I definitely prefer a more relaxing style of yoga myself so that’s what I’ve been doing the past few months. I enjoyed reading your point of view because I thought some of those things myself.

  14. Ann says:

    Beginning students like hot yoga b/c the exterior warmth makes it easier to get into poses and it’s nearly all forward bending, which is more accessible to newbies. Doesn’t hurt that sweating fools ppl into thinking they are working harder than they actually might be.

    I loathe hot yoga. If hard work is what you are looking for – try Ashtanga or Sattva. It’s just as sweaty but it builds more core strength than Bikram will. I prefer yin and modified power based styles.

  15. thefoodandwinehedonist says:

    I don’t want to sound like I’m being outrageous, but the big problem with Bikram – at least in the studio here in Ann Arbor, MI – goes beyond the heat or teaching styles. There are several classes a day, seven days a week and the studio has carpeting. Because they are constantly busy, there’s nooooo time to shampoo the carpets. So 30 people sweating profusely times 5-6 classes a day times 7 days = one smelly mess.

    Add to that the heat fermenting whatever’s in the carpet. Plus the fact that Ann Arbor has a LOT of hippies who douse themselves in patchouli, it’s awful.

    I’ve heard similar stories in other cities (minus the patchouli). I say stick with the regular stuff.

    • Element Studio (@ElementStudioMM) says:

      Nasty. I agree. A studio closer to me finally switched to wooden floors, but they did clean their floors daily. Just couldn’t keep up, I think. Now we all use towels over mats for grip & sweating. My issue is the sad little locker room. To tight for sweaty women to get in and shower & get ready for work as needed.

  16. Lyssapants says:

    I enjoy yoga very much – it’s where I nurture my mind-body connection. No matter what style of yoga people choose, I think most people can agree that rigidity, judgement, and a lecture usually do not meet people’s needs (they certainly don’t meet mine). Thanks for the post!

  17. Alison Noon says:

    Great post, congrats on being Fresh Pressed! I 100% agree about the competitive nature of hot-style Bikram. I’ve been to CorePower in Boulder, CO a few times and the number of side glances during practice is far greater than at beginner or non-hot yoga. Your instructor’s behavior is appalling, no matter what style she was teaching. That’s not yoga at all.

  18. Sara says:

    I liked the private studio where I took hot yoga classes for a while. It was so soothing and the instructors were so supportive. Bikram, eh, not so much. It’s a franchise. It’s a chain. What more can you say, really?

  19. sjwhipp says:

    Great post! Sounds like an awful experience. Your yoga instructor does not sound like she should be teaching yoga. I, too, enjoy doing regular yoga on Monday nights to ease back into the gym routine after the weekend. I’ve never tried Bikram yoga, but I hate being hot so I don’t think I’d do well with it. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  20. Coconuts says:

    I tried the same groupon at bikram in fairfax and it was god awful!!!! I’ve been practicing yoga for years now, and hot yoga for about three (a Vinyasa). All I can say is that teachers made me feel like shit, and I’m sorry but it was boring, and being treated like nothing isn’t what yoga was about. I finished my classes as best I could but I hated it everytime I went in. The only plus was the wet rag at the end. NEVER AGAIN.

  21. chrissyk3 says:

    I’m not sure what a scary Madonna look is, but I did find it interesting that the ideal instructor would be someone who looked and had a body that you’d want. I tried Bikram for 5 days straight with one of those new student deals for $20 or something, and though I doubt I could commit to doing that year-round, I do hope to go back for another an immersion. There were people of all types in the classes, plenty of newcomers, and plenty of show-offy competitive sport people like you mentioned… more men than I will ever care to see in a speedo. I liked the fact that the instructors were just as different – the very fact that they had the floor, all the attention, and were comfortable not looking like a comfortable yoga model was significant for me. The whole idea of it was to be able to secure in yourself the notion that, despite all extreme outward circumstances – the heat, the sweaty people, the smell – you can find a strength in yourself that enables you to carry your practice forward. So it is in life as well. In fact, I’d venture to say that all yoga bears some element of this notion. Plenty of things can happen around you, but at the end of the day how far you go is up to you and you alone.

    thx for the post and congrats on getting freshly pressed!

  22. gennyloves says:

    Thank you. This is one of those fitness trends that I cannot get behind. It’s just not healthy. And yoga can be athletic without being masochistic. This is “buns and thighs” yoga, not yoga for your whole self. I’ve tried to give bikram a try several times, and I can’t get into it. Thanks for articulating what’s been nagging at me!

  23. chilliandmint says:

    Really interesting blog post. Only today a friend was trying to convince me to join her in a class – she goes 4 times a week, way too much right? I do more regular yoga and pilates which I enjoy so I’ll definitely stick to my usual program instead of exploring the bikram route.

  24. TheresaMC says:

    Thanks for all the love! I thought this post might strike a chord, but I didn’t expect this. I’m going to stick it out for the remainder of my Groupon. If nothing else I’ll be detoxed by the end. But I won’t be joining after my 10 classes are over.

  25. yogaleigh says:

    I’ve been practicing yoga for 26 years and teaching the last 10. I’ve watched dozens of varieties of yoga start up over that time and I actually live in an area where the kind of quiet yoga I teach is rare. Everyone is into the various forms of aerobic yoga (which to me includes hot yoga). There are so many types and styles and different emphases from aerobics to pretzel poses to pranayama or meditation that I don’t think you can just say “yoga” any more and be talking about just one type of practice. I enjoyed reading your perspective on bikram. Nice post!

  26. s.iola says:

    hahaha, i think your experience was very typical for a Bikram class. I was very dedicated to many other practices of yoga and thought Bikram was the dumbest thing EVER. But now that I have been going it’s actually one of the best forms of meditation! If you can meditate while being in a 105 degree room, while your whole body is in pain and twisting and you constantly have to focus on just your breathing while staying present enough to listen to the “drill sergeants” you can meditate anywhere!
    Best of Luck!

  27. Anne @ The Frump Factor says:

    It seems that, for those who like this form of yoga, pushing your limits is part of it. To me, though, anything that makes you want to pass out on a regular basis can’t be that healthy! Especially if you’re not permitted to drink water. That just seems so counter-intuitive to me, from a health perspective..

  28. Vina Kent says:

    Ive never done yoga, but have been debating on it for quit some time. Thank you for your informative post!

  29. kaylieruns says:

    What you said about the competitive nature of Bikram Yoga is what has kept me from participating for so long! For me, my yoga practice is about personal growth & remaining centered on what’s important in life, even though my life is pretty crazy. Bikram yoga is just too intense for me to want to participate. I mean, let’s be real, we all have way too much competition in our lives without getting it in our yoga studios too! Yoga to me is a safe haven that I wish to keep peaceful & in a room that is around 70 degrees! 🙂

  30. ninichissimart says:

    hey, I’ve had exactly same experience – and I am pretty sure that we were not with same teacher. The same Drill Sergeant was this time 20-something girl, who was yelling at us (i.e. me at some point) so that i gave up my lessons in the end since I felt worse after yoga then before (and that was definitely not my goal with yoga). Later I read in internet about that and apparently bikram yoga is pretty questionable as a yoga style and very much criticized in yoga communitiy. The utter most principles of yoga are simply notthere

  31. nanodance says:

    be careful about your next classes though, the heat makes people tend to overstretch (because it’s so easy) and most of all stretch their tendons instead of their muscles. tendons won’t go back to their ‘original’ length, whereas muscles do, so you could end up having pains and aches in your joints..
    apart from that, Bikram himself behaved like the biggest d**khead, how can somebody market 26 poses practiced since thousands of years as his own (‘I was the first one to put them into that sequence!’) and put a franchise on it to make loads of money… the yogic way is completely gone with that.

  32. Christina says:

    I love Bikram and clearly you got some awful instructors. I say this is more of a warning about Groupon rather than Bikram. The deal sounded too cheap, even for Groupon. If a business that isn’t new needs to do that then something is wrong. Personally I find Bikram relaxing but I am a competitive type, with myself, not others in the class.

  33. Annika says:

    A Bikram centre has just opened up in my town and I went to check it out with my mum. They have a “30 days for £30” which sounded irresistable! But the strict rules and amoutn fo time they expect you to dedicate to it are a big turn off. Right now we are practicing kundalini yoga which is a lot more laid back and relaxing. The only thing about kundalini is the amount of mumbo jumbo the instructor lectures us on, but I suppose it’s the lesser of two evils. 🙂

  34. bellissimom says:

    I taught hot yoga – not Bikram but another method – for two years. I have heard both horror stories about some Bikram studios and teachers as well as good stories. Some studios take a more gentle, humane approach to the way they teach yoga and encourage you to work within your own limits. Others on the other hand push and try to get you to always do more than you need to/want to/should. It is certainly not for everyone. I can’t say I miss doing hot yoga after I left teaching it over a year ago. It is ok from time to time but I would never make it the basis of my entire yoga practice.

  35. thepokkadotdog says:

    I did a seven day Bikram Yoga challenge. Like you I started it with a coupon and had taken and taught yoga for several years prior.
    I had five different instructors in those seven days and some were “kinder” than others. Once, a woman tried to leave early, she was reprimanded verbally and told to go sit in the corner till class was over. I guess it’s the certification they take to become Bikram certified. It is rude when people leave a class in the middle of teaching it, but it should be understandable if they’re health is compromised.
    I got put off Bikram for the same reasons you did. Why limit your yoga practice to 26 poses? Bikram is not for everybody. I found a Hot Vinyassa Yoga which gives me more variety and its done in dry heat, and never went back to Bikram.
    Thanks for posting this!

  36. wartica says:

    I never thought of bikram like that, but you do bring up some interesting points- especially about the lights being left on:) Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

  37. Netta Kovach says:

    What a laugh! I actually tried Bikram Yoga for a couple of sessions, and while the teachers were lovely, and the room was filled with kind and friendly faces – it STANK!
    The stinky, stale, sweaty smell was overwhelming to say the least. I was not breathing properly for fear of dry reaching. The room was carpeted so the floor routines were the worst. I was so distracted by the smell that it actually made me burst into laughter at one point. The teacher thought it was due to my ‘newbie’ status and smiled politely at me which almost made me laugh more.

  38. Kimberly Ellen says:

    I have definitely had a “drill sergeant” teacher at Bikram before and it’s upsetting… but I have also had teachers that are so encouraging and positive! The practice itself is not a fad, it’s been around for years and years, and its obvious. I feel fantastic after sweating out stress and relieving knee pain I’ve had from 10 years of running, but I get it… not everyone likes to sweat! Other forms of yoga are much more fun, too! You get do contort your body like a pretzel and flip upside-down… it’s fantastic! Our bodies are different. They react differently to different forms of exercise, but I must say, if you want to drop weight quickly or re-align your body: Bikram is the way to go!

  39. Lindsay says:

    I had the same experience of Bikram Yoga, not to mention they tell you to lock your joints. You should never lock your joints. Yikes

  40. Astrid says:

    If you go to yoga expectating relaxation and soothing music, then Bikram yoga is not for you. I, too, have done many different types of yoga including the relaxing one. What I like about bikram yoga isn’t so much that I want to relax…I like bikram because it challenges me, motivates me and teaches me perseverance. It also has great benefits (or at least people claim it does) so it’s more about physical health and also mental health for me. I feel like if I can get through bikram yoga I can do anything. That’s my perpective on it.

    But I also like to mix it up so I will go to Moksha yoga every once in a while for a different experience.

    I blogged about Bikram yoga as well and if you feel like a laugh or two, check it out:

    And an earlier blog about hot yoga:


  41. nancyfrancis says:

    Bikram is the anti-zen of the Yoga world. If I wanted to go to Boot camp, that’s where I’d be!

    There are plenty of other kinds of Hot Yoga that are much more enjoyable.

      • DavidS says:

        Ive been to actual boot camp when I was a young man and I practice Bikram Yoga now that Im older. One teaches you to breathe and the other teaches you to kill people. Not really a good comparison. You anti-Bikram people are rather nutty. BTW, Bikram yoga *is* Hatha Yoga. Im not saying you have to like it, but you should at least know what you’re talking about before insulting someone else’s practice.

  42. Lunar Euphoria says:

    I’m with you. I’ve been practicing yoga for years, but I’ve never tried Bikram. There’s nothing remotely appealing to me about being trapped in a hot room and sweating everywhere.

  43. Leighanne says:

    Yes! I had exactly the same experience. Not only did the instructor make me feel bad for lying down when I thought I was going to pass out, but I was also picked on. I have a terrible foot injury after being in an accident.. so basically I find it very hard to balance and if I am in a position for a long time, it starts to ache. The instructor instantly picked me out of the sweaty group as the ‘weak one’ and picked on me during the whole session even though I was trying my hardest to keep up (I also have a competitive nature). I have never felt so embarrassed. I was also so angry at the instructor for making me feel bad about myself when I was meant to be enjoying a very expensive class to make me feel good. The whole point of yoga was to let go and relax. Not to be reduced to tears by a skinny man telling me that ‘pink mat isn’t doing it right’. He may not have known about my disability, but picking on people for not being as good as everyone else is wrong. In hindsight, I should have complained. But instead, I didn’t go back. In Bikram’s defence.. I liked their body wash.. smelt pretty good..

    • Linda Venable (@Linven55) says:

      It sounds to me as thougn you expected yourself to be perfect, and are allowing yourself to feel in competition with the other yogi’s in the room. Perhaps the instructor was trying to encourage you? I know the instructors in my bikram studio would never “pick on” anyone for not doing a posture… but they will encourage you to try the right way. I cannot do many of the postures fully, yet, but keep trying. The instructors at my studio all know that I have had rotator cuff surgery and no flexibility in my hips, etc. They routinely encourage me, are not pushy, and I am thankful for the comments they give me. I don’t worry that there are “better” yogi’s in the room than me! I am there to improve myself, not them. Give yourself a chance…. I can see improvement, but it is slower than I would like, certainly!

  44. A Little Bit Fairy says:

    Fantastic post! Thought I was the only one who’d run into this type of thing.

    I tried yoga classes several times, and several disciplines in order to deal with health problems & improve fitness. Each class ended up being a tad too kooky for me, and that’s saying something as I’m quite kooky myself (I paint fairies & toadstools, and the like!). But yes, I too didn’t want to end up with the scary Madonna look, or be on the receiving end of harsh critisism so yoga & the obligatory mat have been replaced (at 34 years of age!) by a horse & regular horse riding. All the fitness, relaxation & fun I could ask for! =) Who knew?!?!

  45. mamacarriemakes says:

    I did not find Bikram enjoyable either. I liked the heat and humidity, and I think I would enjoy a guided meditation under such conditions. But to be so strictly kept to the specific poses and their specific order and the specific time we were allowed to drink (small sips) of water. It was just too restrictive for me, and not enjoyable enough.
    If I don’t enjoy it I won’t continue doing it. No matter how ‘good’ it is for me.
    And congrats on Freshly Pressed!!

  46. bigheartedmom says:

    I quit all hot yoga (and most hot-anything) when I learned I heart condition; i quite most things for about 2 years and am amazed that your friend could (and did) stick with it. Please watch out for her!
    Enjoyed this read. Very nice read.

  47. Sheena Shewell says:

    I’ve never tried Bikram Yoga but I have done normal yoga which I enjoy. I do’n’t think I could handle Bikram!

  48. Sammi says:

    Have you tried hatha? It’s hot yoga as well and it also includes the 26 poses, but it’s not as strict as Bikram, which has a set of rules they have to follow in order to be officially certified as a Bikram studio. Also, if you want more of a variety, try hot power yoga, which is based on the “flow-y” vinyasa yoga and changes with each practice.
    I’ve gone to a Bikram studio before as well and wasn’t a fan. I totally understand your drill sergeant analogy. I could do without the yelling. After all, it’s yoga, not boot camp. The place I go to now is hatha and while some of the instructors do speak loudly (not quite a yell, but definitely not a whisper), I find them encouraging and make me push myself more. And throughout the practice, they will tell us that if we’re not feeling great, we should lay down — even if it’s for the entire practice and we’re the only one in the room doing so.
    I’ve been to a few different hot yoga studios and each one definitely has a different style so I guess you need to find what works for you. Hope you aren’t discouraged by this experience!

  49. starlight says:

    i don’t think yoga or any yoga for that matter is for me because of the stretching and difficult poses but i get envious on people who are on it.. what i want now and considering is enrolling on zumba classes which is i think more fun and still a total body workout with all the sweating due to dancing, but i really need to squeeze that in into my sked.. nice post and thanks for sharing.

  50. smilesmommy says:

    I experienced the same thing as you when I bought my Bikram groupon. Except my instructor was repeating the words so fast and loud, I could barely make out what the heck she was telling us to do. And why do they get to stand there and yell at you, but not do any of the poses or demonstrate… I’ll still with yoga like you 😉

  51. Warriors and Goddesses says:

    in addition to everything you said, which I agree with, I detest its creator Bikram Choudhary who patented those 26 asana and the concept of practicing in a heated room. Not sure who allowed the patenting of asanas that came from a 5,000 year old tradition in the first place and I think this played a part in initialising yogas commercialisation.
    Unless you train at an authorised Bikram course, you cannot call it Bikrams (hence “hot” yoga and the like named studios around). Teachers are encouraged to tell their student to “push” “hold” “do not leave the class or sip water”. The whole concept goes against yogas principles.

    He is also known for sleeping with students! Yuck!

    Congrats on being fresh pressed!

  52. Sarah Forshaw says:

    Wow that sounds horrible! I mean breaking a sweat is really good for you but working out in a very hot climate is not good for you… it stresses your body out and does more damage than anything

  53. withthegrains says:

    Today I had the most emotional day at work and almost steered clear of yoga, but instead, I went to my regular Bikram class and left with a clearer head, a stronger body and a happier heart. You might say I drank the koolaid when it comes to Bikram yoga, but I’ve also had some really amazing teachers, who have changed my life, not just my practice. One of my most influential teachers told us Bikram yoga gives you the body you were meant to have before all the stress, the expectations, the hissy-fitting, etc. All of my teachers have different body types, and each has his or her own beauty, poise, energy and enthusiasm. As to the relaxation, that same influential teacher said anyone can be relaxed at the top of a mountain or with tranquil music, but can you relax in spite of heat, lights, sweat and a fidgety person next to you? If you can do that, you will be able to take that focus and relaxation anywhere- traffic jams, work conflicts, waiting in line, etc! A lot of times teachers fail to explain why they are being so regimental. It’s usually to protect the students. Leaving the hot room and entering a cooler temperatured room, while dizzy, can lead to a rush of blood to the head, increased lightheadedness, etc. They mainly want to make sure the students are ok, and due to the routine dialogue, it seems they don’t always have time to tell that full story. Additionally, people tend to be turned off by instructions not to drink water, but again, the intentions are pure. When you fill your stomach with water, and then position yourself on your water-filled stomach, it’s not going to feel good or help you stretch more. The best thing to do really is just to breathe! I surprised myself when I fell in love with Bikram yoga. I don’t consider myself a routine person, but I found incredible variety ensues from having something stable as the base. When you constantly perform such a well choreographed, balanced routine, you start to notice minor changes- perhaps you went further in your stretch or used more core strength. Also, the poses all support each other so well. I concede you have to find the yoga that fits you, just as you find friends or significant others who fit you. Bikram may not be for everyone, but I would be remiss not to add my two cents as it is the first yoga to change my body and more importantly, my life so thoroughly! Come to Pittsburgh! We have some of the best teachers around and a great community of students, and I say that having traveled to a few different schools. Give it another whirl?!?

  54. jessicamjonas says:

    I’m a Grouponer, too, at a different studio. I guess it’s Bikram-lite where I go: the temperature is about 90, rather than 100+, and the teacher makes a point of reminding us at the start of every class that we should be stable and comfortable in every pose, with no straining. He does talk a lot about the nose breathing, though.

  55. the lotus seed journals says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with Bikram yoga (mostly love). It has been very healing for my body. There is something to this heating up the body for healing/heath–Bikram/hot yoga, Native American sweat lodges, Finnish,etc. saunas. I have always had amazing Bikram teachers who said what Bikram would do in the teacher training courses (no water, no leaving the room, etc.) and then say do the best you can do on this day. I think I have benefitted most when I did Bikram 2-3 times a week for a month, sort of as a cleansing time.

  56. massageworkslg says:

    I love all types of yoga, hot yoga included. And find it hugely beneficial to me and often suggest it to clients. But any teacher who pushes you to do something your body is telling you not to or is causing pain is down right dangerous. Yoga should be about going inside and connecting on a higher level. If it’s just about a good workout you might as well be at the gym.

    There is a lovely saying that where there is breath there is yoga.

    • TheresaMC says:

      You lost me with “good old-fashion run.” I also hate running. Now, walking the dog or hiking in the woods… that I can get behind.

  57. Illeyah Draunidalo says:

    I had to laugh out loud while reading your post – its the reasons I love bikram. The heat is quite intense and only adds to the exercise of tenacity. After a class, I notice I’m ready to take on anything the world has to throw at me – I’m a lot calmer. I love it and I’m sorry your first experience wasn’t the best.

  58. Rufina says:

    I nearly threw up when I tried Bikram yoga. Now, Svaroopa Yoga, where most of the 1.5 hours is spent on your back with legs draped over blanket rolls, is much more my style…;)

  59. schadenfreudeh says:

    I hear you on this, I have a friend who is a yoga instructor who told me that Bikram instructors are known for this kind of behaviour. I’ve never gone to a bikram class, I do yoga and I do a lot workout videos. I have a tendency to tell off the videos when they annoy me with ‘1 more, 2 more’, so I’m afraid I’d probably snap back at an instructor if they came at me like that.

    Regarding yogi’s and body types. I would love to know, as a therapist, the comorbidity of yoga instructor to eating disorders. Vegetarianism has been known to attract disordered eaters, so I can imagine the attraction that yoga appeals. I know a yoga instructor who is on the ‘Master Cleanse’ more then she’s off it, god forbid she have an ounce of fat on her somewhere. Scary.

    • TheresaMC says:

      Funny, I was thinking Bikram is really only good as a sort of cleanse. Like doing a few sessions every six months or so wouldn’t be so bad but if you did it too often you’d basically just be a walking skeleton.

  60. mjharvell says:

    Funny, funny and more funny. I saw one of those deals the other day and wondered who would actually buy that and obviously – a lot of people. I took a few yoga classes, just to try something different and I learned quick that yoga people take yoga very seriously. I have to admit – it is a pretty good work out, much more than I expected. Much of what you said in your post is confirmed by the comments and that is just really funny to me. Thanks for sharing and for being brave enough to try something different and share your honest opinion about it!

  61. litaliay says:

    I can agree with you on the last part – who wants to be taught/instructed by someone who seems to not follow their own advice!! Good post!

  62. Mariajose says:

    Thank you! Before reading this I had no idea what the difference between regular yoga and bikram yoga was. The only yoga I’ve done is on my Wii and I’m not sure if that counts but I would really like to try this other type.

    However, I think that’s the problem with a groupon for session packages. For example, you can go to a restaurant once with a groupon and determine whether or not you’d come back but if I buy a groupon for dance lessons or a gym then I’m kind of forced to take full advantage of the groupon even if I’m not as satisfied the first time.

    I read one of the comments above and I hope that not all instructors are like that because if there’s one thing I can say is that if the yoga won’t relax me, telling that instructor where to shove it would surely do the trick.

    And glad to hear your friend is still able to go through with it. Hopefully you don’t have too many sessions to go.

  63. katiestew says:

    I love bikram, but I too prefer regular old fashion yoga. To be, the benefit of yoga should include both the physical and spiritual benefits and bikram does seem to be lacking the latter.

  64. sebriz says:

    I agree completely.
    I find the fixed format of Bikrim boring.
    There is a form of yoga near me which a combines a hot-room with power yoga, and can be a great challenge now and then.
    I much prefer normal yoga most of the time. Each class is different, and more often then not I will come out feeling relaxed, dispite the fact I have pushed myself.
    Thanks for the entertaining post!

  65. ksbrigid says:

    Even after this post, I am still drawn to the idea of trying Bikram. I do like to sweat when I work out–it makes me feel much cleaner afterwards, because of the detoxification benefits. Also, I constantly need someone to push me harder in group workouts, or I’ll be the one that finds the “lazy way out.” 🙂 It really is unfortunate that your instructor had such poor people skills, though.

  66. emiliabrasier says:

    Oh man I tried Bikram yoga a while back and really did not like it. I love Ashtanga yoga even though it is not particularly relaxing, in fact I am not really that into the relaxing kind of yoga where you sit in one pose for an eternity…but the heat and sweating oh man, no thank you. I don’t mind sweating but this is a different kind of sweating you are literally drenched, dripping, and 3/4 of the people in the class are wearing hardly anything because they were aware that this is how it would be. In other words I could not agree with you more!

  67. ashleyrobinson says:

    Love the post – this is exactly how I felt when I have done Bikram in the past. Every time I’ve gone (classes in BC, Canada as well as in Bristol, England), I’ve felt like the instructors were drill sergeants — a bit intense for my liking.

  68. kathrinaha says:

    Hehe, I had exactly the same experience with drill instructor-like teachers at Bikram studios in Munich and Brighton likewise … seems to be pretty much the same style everywhere.

  69. artblablablablog says:

    Yoga Nazi’s. Summer in AZ would suffice for free if I wanted to venture outside. Not sure that is good for you. Do you explode if you have a hot flash in there? I took a yoga class, enthusiastically signing up for 3 months and paying in advance for the “deal”. The instructor was a Narcissistic little thing who gave no instruction and talked about herself endlessly. I quit after 3 times. I prefer my DVD’s at home with Rodney Yi.

  70. Brigitte says:

    I tried this about 30 times and could never get to that place of zen that one was supposed to get to. I found myself dreading it more than I wanted to go. I know there are plenty of people that swear by this type of yoga and I’m sure it takes far longer that 30 classes to adapt, but I just couldn’t do it anymore! It wasn’t relaxing nor motivating for me. Great post — thanks for sharing!

  71. ann says:

    Thanks for this post, as a regular Baron Baptiste power yoga practitioner I was tempted to try Bikram yet the militant personality of that instructor as well as other Bikram instructors I’ve heard about in my area is a huge turn off. I am currently training for my 200 RYT in Hatha yoga and do not believe that this style of yoga is in concert with the yoga sutras or 8 limbs of yoga. There are so many styles of yoga however all styles should be honoring each individual with the reassurance of a safe practice that will feed the body, mind and soul. Any yoga class leaving students with dis-ease is not a healthy practice and is not true yoga.

      • The Vain Yogi says:

        All girls are vain, dear lovely petunias. Else why spend all their time worrying about their looks! I am honest because I am self aware. The author is not. The post is entirely about herself, what she felt. She too is vain but she is not honest.

      • TheresaMC says:

        Girls, girls, stop fighting. You’re both pretty.

        All this negativity is un-zen.

      • The Vain Yogi says:

        The discussion at hand is about vanity, not prettiness. And Zen is about independence from negativity and positivity.

  72. Robert Bryndza says:

    Hey great post, you really hit the nail on the head. I practised Bikram in the U.K in London at various studios (Chiswick & Old Street can take note) I have never been amongst more passive aggressive people. Exactly the same things happened to me, pushy rude teachers. In particular a really scary male teacher who’d take the class in skimpy shorts with a saggy body as hairy as a Wookie. He’d shout at the guys and give inappropriate massages to the women to help them ease up. So pleased you wrote this piece!

  73. SomerEmpress says:

    LOL! Very funny and light post! I enjoy Bikram Yoga, but I have to admit, it’s a whole different vibe from a traditional Yoga class, and exactly where I seem to fit in. It’s a nice blend of what I love about yoga and other forms of fitness.

  74. meditationformeditation says:

    All individuals on this earth, have individuality of their nature, soul, psychology, physiology etc. You can not have same ring in all fingers. you have to choose a perfect style of yoga for your desire, which will suite your physic, mind and soul……..thank you.

  75. Joe says:

    Great post. I am that hyper competitive person who does Bikram/Hot yoga as an intense workout, not to relax. But I totally see your point . Regarding the “Yoga Drill Instructors”, I had that happen to me too, with a really crappy attitude to go along with it. I understand that they say tis part of the “discipline” but heck, my body wanted water and I damm straight gave it what it wanted.

  76. Lissa Masters says:

    Someone suggested I try a Hot yoga class. I hesitated , remembering how sick I felt after experiencing a sweat lodge. I will trust my intuition next time. It was horrible for me that is. I could not stand the heat, bright lights, and “boot camp” atmosphere. YUK! The biggest deterrent is that I am 5’3″, and weigh about 100 lbs. (I skip a meal and lose weight>) Hot yoga made me feel ill from maybe losing water weight… Not for me!

    • Linda Venable (@Linven55) says:

      Your feeling sick was probably more due to the fact that you hadn’t properly hydrated PRIOR to class. Also, many people need to add an electrolye solution to their routine to avoid losing too much of that. My first class left me with a headache, which was resolved by adding a simple electrolye tab to my water bottle. Just like runners do.

      Wish I could skip a meal and lose weight! Lol…

  77. Currie Rose says:

    I’m with you on this. I hear you on the competitive part too. In my town, a lot of the Bikram people are highly competitive runners, weight trainers or big into long/competitive bike rides. Bikram is definitely not my cup of tea either. When sweat stings my eyes and I’m struggling to hold a pose because there is too much moisture everywhere, I start to wonder if I am truly relaxing… and I know it’s not relaxing when I fear an instructor is going to catch me trying to find balance or drink water..

  78. Edmee says:

    LOL, my Bikram yoga experience in Houston sounds a lot like what you described, and I haven’t been to Bikram in about two years. Like someone else posted, I too had a love-hate relationship with Bikram. I hated the class, but I loved the feeling of accomplishment at the end. That groupon price sure was a great deal though! I hope you can find something else that’s more to your liking.

  79. adela120 says:

    That is a great groupon price! I tried Bikram a couple of times and was really turned off by the fact that the studio had carpeting. As I saw everyone’s sweat drip into it – my mind wondered to how often they shampooed the carpet and not on the poses. I later tried hot yoga – which is just vinyasa style yoga in a hot room. I loved it! Granted they also had wood floors.

  80. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins says:

    I prefer non-Bikram hot yoga classes because the instructors encourage you to push yourself to the limits – but in a more friendly and compassionate way. They also make sure that you don’t hurt yourself which is super easy to do in a heated room. I’ve been to Bikrams where the instructor stands up on a podium with a loudspeaker. And the classes are so full, there’s no way the instructor can help people correct their poses.

    I guess it comes down to personal preference though. Some people only see results with a drill sargeant instructor. I watched a documentary about how Bikram tried to patent a bunch of yoga moves. Not cool.

  81. graciehart1 says:

    I like yoga, but the whole humming, feel your inner spirit thing is annoying. I’d rather get the exercise without the chanting. Perhaps Bikram is my calling.

  82. Cheryl says:

    Dont give up on Yoga, sounds like you just got one of the ‘mean yogis’ that bikram seems to attract. I like the heat and really like Baptiste style, but as a yoga teacher I will tell you that you have to find what works for you. Yoga isnt about the physical practise, it isnt about the chanting, it isnt about the sweating and it isnt about the relaxing. Its about using these elements, along with a few others, to reach a place of heightened awareness. Good luck, oh and dont read that one chicks blog a few up from mine, she posted her response on her blog, well, she’s not a yogi. Yoga aint about being rude, and her response is just that. Rude. Good luck with your yoga search, if you ever get to Chattanooga I have ‘just’ the class for you, on the house 🙂
    Congrats on FB!

  83. hunterandcarissa says:

    I completely agree! When workout programs are fun, exciting, and provide variety, that’s when people learn to love it! The more you love it the more you do it! However, my experience with the monotony of Bikram yoga was less than sub par. I suppose for those who would like an extra challenge in addition to their routine it may be a unique experience. However, as an exercise practice in of itself, it doesn’t seem fit for the masses.

    On a seperate note, I have switched to pilates on a reformer and have loved every minute of it! You can strengthen, tone, stretch and elongate you muscles. And there are many different fun and challenging routines to spice up the pracatice of pilates. If you love the flexibility that yoga brings but want the butt of pilates, check it out!

  84. enchantedhue says:

    I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for years on and off and love it! I disagree that it is competitive. Our instructors emphasize at the beginning of class that each practice will be different for each of us, and not to worry if a pose that seemed easy last time is challenging today. They also encourage water breaks and never ever yell! Sorry you had such a bad experience with your studio!
    If any of you are in the Boston area, I warmly recommend Yoga Crossing in Waltham, it is a wonderful studio and none of the instructors is a Yoga Nazi!

  85. ambienandfranzia says:

    I love Yoga- I usually practice Yin Yoga because I love that feeling of a stress-free evening. I don’t get that with Bikram. Bikram stresses me out, and I feel like I can’t breathe. To top it off- let’s talk about how my hair looked. Let’s just say that I had to double up on headbands and hair ties just to keep my hair in check. Holy Frizz.

  86. Marcia Clarke says:

    Relax, relate, release! Yoga centers and balances you, I do not care for Bikram–I guess I am a stickler for tradition. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  87. Laura Jane says:

    I got SO. BORED. doing Bikram. And I was always nauseated after smelling years of sweat baked in to the floor. One day, a girl came to our class who had clearly been practicing since she was in the womb. The instructor stopped the class and asked everyone to watch as she did the full expression of the scorpion pose – her chin was on the floor facing the mirror and her feet were on the floor next to her ears.

    That was my last class.

  88. James says:

    Certain yoga poses make me unleash some serious farts, and I don’t even want to imagine how long a fart would linger in a warm, moist environment, particularly an onion-ring fart. This is probably the main reason why I have no interest whatsoever in Bikram Yoga.

  89. marilynmendoza says:

    I have the original book by Bikram but am afraid to go to classes of any kind because I have agoraphobia and don’t do groups very well. I live in Hawaii so I can do this Yoga on a hot summer day. I don’t think I can take a class because they don’t let you out. I also suffer from anxiety, low blood sugar and can’t cross my legs because of my frozen hips. I am not joking. I used to do the old Yoga on TV with Richard Hittleman and Lilith. They did the real Hatha yoga. Here in Hawaii I heard the instructors are mean and snotty. I did like the Bikram book and the first few poses are very useful to my body. aloha

  90. nictrboy says:

    Reblogged this on Nicole Trboyevich and commented:
    I am a bikram yoga instructor. I am so sorry that you have had such a bad experience with bikram yoga. Not all of us bikram instructors are drill sergeants. Although I have had my fair share of them, and trust me, it’s not easy to block the bullshit out. Unfortunatly it is these instructors who give bikram yoga a bad rep. I hope you come back;) Just hang in there breathe, stillness….just focus on yourself. And soon no matter what yogi drill sergeant says, you will be calm as cool clear water. Nothing will steal your peace. If you can breathe through the power trip drill sergeant “yogi” in 105 heat, you can deal with anyone outside the yoga room:) good luck, best to you.

  91. mvititoe says:

    Granted, I’ve never tried it, but I’ve always thought of yoga as peaceful. This Bikram stuff sounds like the yoga equivalent to waterboarding. I think I’ll pass. 😉

    With that being stated, how would someone know whether a certain yogo instructor or facility is credible?


  92. Aulberich says:

    It definitely sounds like you do not need to be there. I would’ve left after what happened with the two girls too! There’s no point in paying for a service that does not give you what you expect or desire. Life is hard enough without Yoga being stressful too!

  93. Lonnie says:

    Good read. I have been practicing yoga for a while but never tried Bikram. Will give it a try to see what kind of experience I have.

  94. healinginsights says:

    I had similar experiences at my local Bikram yoga studio. I have since dropped it. I think it’s more about finding the right class for you. The folks in the class I attended looked like expert yogis. I admired them for their strength and ability, but I knew at least at this point in my life, it wasn’t for me! I enjoyed your post! Thank you.

  95. healthycreature says:

    I felt the EXACT same way my first time. I like relaxing, soothing yoga. I hated the lights and how the instructor talked at us the entire time. I never went back and don’t care to. I’m going to stick with Vinyasa.

  96. maudlin says:

    Entertaining post.

    I have no experience with Yoga nor Bikram Yoga (though plenty of experience with other forms of exercise) but it sounds very difficult. It also doesn’t sound very, eh, advisable, especially not to people who are not 100% in shape. I personally don’t see why you would put yourself through this if there are more enjoyable ways of burning more calories and gaining more muscle, but then again, I can’t really know what I’m talking about because I’ve never done this!

  97. LaViera says:

    By Golly! I think you nailed it!

    I did other types of yoga, and when I triedd Bikram… the first day I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and just die! It was soooo challenging. So I went back…for 30days straight and never missed a day.

    You see, the other forms of Yoga didnt have that effect on me because it was as you put it “competitive”. People like me are often bored with things that don’t challenge them to the death. I don’t know why that is… I just know it is, and Bikram feeds that need.

  98. Kathryn says:

    I’ve thought about trying Bikram yoga, but after reading this I am not so sure. I’ve tried hot yoga and can tolerate it, and I do crossfit so I am already pretty competitive, but I’m not sure about doing the same 26 poses over and over again – I’m afraid I’ll get bored. It could however be just the kind of meditation and stretching I’m looking for… Anyone got any recommendations on a good studio on the North Shore, MA?

  99. heloise8 says:

    Hi, I just wrote a blog at heloise8/the trough about my experiences with hot yoga. Anyone can go directly to the studio or check online because the studios often have the 10 days for 20 dollars to try their instructors.

    By doing this I was able to go to at least 3 hot studios. I recently went to Bikrams for the first time. I won’t go back here’s why: the had carpeting on the floor and by the second class it smelled so bad in there I could not breathe.

    Then the class is long and hot but I am OCD so I can hang in there. But as you said in your post damn it’s the same stretch and hold postures each time.

    After all the tryouts I have decided on Baptiste trained instructors for hot yoga. The studio is clean and well lit and the instructors are very welll trained and challenge you with different poses and don’t scold you if you need to stop or take a break.

    I even did my first back bend with help there.

    I plan to sign a one year contract with them.

    Keep looking around your town if you think yoga is for you. I like it because it’s like dance and I’ve been going to classes on and off for 30 years.


  100. Tahoe Sux says:

    I found your post on Freshly Pressed. I have two criticisms of Bikram Yoga:

    First, because of the heat, I think yoga beginners are at risk for pushing too far in Bikram classes. The heat allows hot muscles to relax and stretch more than they should without practice. I wouldn’t recommend Bikram for a yoga newbie for that reason. You need to know the limits of your flexibility before you step foot in a 105 degree room.

    Second, it’s the same thing, all the time, every time. Bikram is a patented, trademark yoga style and in order to use the Bikram name, you HAVE to follow his steps. I don’t do yoga because I want to do the same thing every day. I want my yoga instructor to have the flexibility to recognize the needs (or wants) of the class and change the program accordingly. There are many “flavors” of yoga (power based, meditative, restorative, etc). Each of them plays a role in yoga practice.

    I’ve gone to a few “hot” yoga classes that aren’t constrained by the patented Bikram sequence and found them more to my liking. That said, Bikram is good too. (Incidentally, I’m no yoga devotee, but practice as a supplement to my other outdoor activities).

  101. Lisa Carmen says:

    It was great reading your post. I am currently in an intro offer at a Bikram studio and can really relate to what you’re saying. Having done different styles of yoga ove the past 5 or 6 years, I find that you really need to find a style and studio that suits you for it to be a worthwhile practice. In my first Bikram class I hated the way the instructor coached, but I wasn’t sure if that was unique to the yoga style or the person. At my second class, though that instructor (both were men btw) was much better, he was still much more military than i’m used to.
    I was quite spoiled at my last studio because it was in the perfect location and the style was perfect for me but i moved so alas I cannot go there anymore. it was an Anusara inspired hot yoga class and the style itself I found more relaxing and uplifting while being a rigorous workout. I even prefer Moksha to Bikram because of the flows and postures. For my own tastes I dislike yoga styles that seem yoga stripped down to not much more than a pretentious spin class (in attitude at least). Yoga’s alot more holistic for me than that.

  102. Element Studio (@ElementStudioMM) says:

    As with any yoga class I take (and I’m currently very happy with Bikram), my release of my competitive nature is my primary challenge. It is hard for me to become meditative and focus on my own body’s responses instead of feeling envy over the 18-yr-old dance major’s body in front of me. I’m not a flexible person; I must do what only I can do and tune into that. It’s been good for me and is now bleeding over into more areas of my life.

  103. alishacat says:

    Practicing yoga in a heated room, in the Bikram style, has a variety of health benefits that you are not able to receive without the heat. I have a torn meniscus in my right knee, and have developed osteoarthritis as a result. Whenever I practice Bikram yoga, the pain in my knee goes away, and it is not so stiff. I would suggest doing more research on Bikram yoga instead of writing it off so quickly. Maybe you should change studios and find instructors that are more practical and empathetic to the needs of their students, since this studio sounds a little like a place for Bikram fanatics. I have been to several Bikram studios, and it took me a while to find the instructors that were right for me. Good luck, and hope it gets better!

  104. jjotter says:

    Hilarious! I don’t understand the fascination with the hot yoga classes. I burn up doing it in a regular class with air conditioning. Plus, my hands and feet sweat and I don’t want to have to worry about tripping up on a towel to get to the next pose. I’m out too!

  105. Linda Venable (@Linven55) says:

    I find all the controversy about Bikram to be interesting. I, too, got a groupon last fall. I tried Bikram and have not looked back. Never would I have thought that sweating in a really hot room would be something that would click with me, I have now been going almost daily since November 2011. Just this past week, I completed a 60 day challenge! The most interesting thing to me is that the 90 minutes just flies by! I can assure you that 90 minutes of running, or anything else, would be long and arduous torture… (I know this for a fact!)

    The instructors at my studio, Bikram Dallas, are not drill sergeant’s. They are caring, interesting individuals that make an honest attempt to help you along with your practice. And there is the monologue. It is the same…. pretty much, but that is how they moderate the time factor, I imagine. It was several months before I realized I was actually beginning to HEAR everything that was said… each little nuance or tip, I mean. And, I do see small improvements! Yes, it is slow. I am no longer a 20 something with lots of flexitility. Running cured me of having the ability to touch my toes! But the instructors are aware of my limitations, and make corrective suggestions to me that help me attempt the postures in the right way. And the owners of our studio are instrumental in keeping all of the instructors on the same page in tone and style. They are really wonderful.

    As for the carpet, thankfully our studio was remodeled with a new type of flooring and a state of the art heating system that regulates the air very well. Ok, it is hot. Get over it.

    Oh, and leave your competitiveness at the door. It is hard, yes. But, you will gain so much more from your practice if you concentrate on YOU in the mirror, and not someone else and how well they are doing compared to you! I also learned that it is so much easier to get through the class when you really begin to breathe through the nose…. difficult at first, but once you do, it makes things flow easier.


  106. Naomi @ IntegratingHealth says:

    I LOVED Bikram Yoga… for about 1.5 years. It was perfect for warming me up in the Northeast winters. And I can say that Bikram yoga + Acupuncture helped me heal a torn meniscus in my knee, and I never had to go for the surgery my orthopedist was so ready to sign me up for. During that time, it was the one exercise that could take the place of running for me.

    That said, I seriously caution my patients about Bikram yoga. It is not healthy for people to sweat that much. If you go once a week, fine, but Bikram encourages people go daily, or most days, or twice a day. I am an acupuncturist, and the theory of Chinese medicine definitely teaches that too much sweating injures the internal balance, and specifically injures the Heart. We all know that sweating is a great detoxifier, which is why I think that Bikram feels so good at first. But, it’s funny, when I look back on that time period, I had a friend at the time who would joke with me that I was always saying I was tired and dehydrated. I was drinking plenty of water and I never made the connection, but hindsight is 20-20.

  107. cafesatsunset says:

    I’ve never tried Bikram yoga but I have tried hot house yoga where the room is heated to 85 degrees or so, and you move through poses at a relatively fast pace. I liked it. What I got out of it was that I generally liked the heightened heat. It helped with warming up my muscles. But I’m not going to try Bikram yoga any time soon! How can you breathe and do strength building exercises in 105 degree heat? I think my chest would be heaving from just trying to get air.

  108. James says:

    I love Bikram, I love the challenge, I love the competition (with myself) and I love the routine. I’ve tried other forms of Yoga and find not knowing what is coming really annoying, when I run I know before I pull on my shoes exactly what speed I am going to go and what distance, ditto for any other training I do in life, having random poses thrown at me for varied and made up lengths of time is not for me. I am 8 days into a 30 day challenge and love it, I did two classes yesterday. It might not be the ‘yogi’ way but I don’t care about any of that mumbo jumbo, all I know is when I leave a class I feel amazing, training for olympic triathlons and marathons never gave me that buzz. If you’re going to do something then go big I say, Bikram is the hardcore style of Yoga, if you have a relaxed non competitive personality that doesn’t like to be challenged then there are plenty of fun, relaxed versions of yoga out there for you…

  109. storyofjessie says:

    I am so addicted to Bikram Yoga! A studio opened up by my place 8 months ago and I can’t get enough of it. Before I discovered Bikram, I tried normal hot yoga (not sure what you call it) and power yoga. I enjoyed it, but after doing Bikram, I finally ”get it”. I am now on a whole new spiritual path and have made Bikram a part of my lifestyle. I believe the reason why the instructors are so strict about taking water breaks or leaving the classroom is because it is all about training and disciplining the mind– mind over matter. Students who are not use to the heat and start to feel dizzy, tend to go for their water bottle or leave the room, because they use it as a distraction from passing out. Learn to let go of whatever thoughts are going on in your head and trust yourself. If you are new to Bikram, drink plenty of water and I recommend going everyday for at least a week. After the third class, you will see the light! Lol Stay healthy and happy everyone! Namaste 🙂

  110. What's with Australia?! says:

    I made the mistake of taking my teen and we were both treated like crap. I loved the yoga but as a sole parent I can’t go anywhere unless my teen joins in. I made solid enquiries before going but when I went, the boss was away and the teachers were so condescending and on the second visit one rolled her eyes and said they had a special meeting to decide that no one under 15 could join because he didn’t have the maturity it took! I told her to back up and she was overstepping the mark if she thought she could talk like that in front of my teen. They are sensitive enough and I was just happy we were both there. She then told me children disrupt the class and she doubted I had any form of approval. Lucky I came home and found the email from the owner welcoming both of us.
    Management is still away so waiting for a response before I write a review (prof writer).
    I saw free classes for teens on US sites..Why does Bikram yoga not have some sort of outline in their business plan about age levels..or do they?!
    If those are the judgements made after one class..I can only assume their studio is toxic and completely disconnected from the health benefits they are meant to be providing.

  111. Amelia says:

    Interesting post. I am a yoga practitioner of many years. I find it curious that you say the Bikram poses are not all that challenging. I have done many styles of yoga, and while Ashtanga, for example, is more rigorous, Bikram still challenges me each and every time. It is still about mastering your alignment and the depth you take a post to; and of course it is all about the breath, as it is with all yoga. As well, most yoga is not done with the lights low and with music. That sounds like a restorative class. There are of course many contemporary styles of yoga classes that are offered by studios these days. As a matter of fact, true yoga practice, the ultimate practice, should be done by yourself at home (or in another, solitary place), with no instructor or teacher but yourself.

    Bikram has no “levels” which is actually one of its positive aspects. We’re all doing the same poses, to whatever ability and all abilities are welcome. One does not compare oneself to anyone in the class. At one time the concept of Bikram yoga did not appeal to me, but it was based on conjecture and everything I had read. You can’t judge Bikram by one or a few classes. You can’t paint every instructor or studio with the same brush. It’s the same as someone wanting to be an experienced runner overnight: that’s never going to happen. Running is practice, practice, practice, over years (yes, I’m a hardcore runner). Yoga is also practice, practice, practice. In yoga you are never done learning.

    The only person you should “compete” with is yourself. The only teacher you should truly listen to is yourself and your body: it is the most important teacher you will ever know. Bikram instructors can indeed be tough, but you must still listen to yourself first. Yes, are you challenging yourself, are you being lazy, or is your energy level just not there today? Wherever you are on any given day, minute or hour, just be honest with yourself and don’t be “intimidated” by the instructor. You don’t need to justify to the instructor where you are. All of our bodies are created differently; we are not the same. One’s own body is different on different days. I have had some tough instructors that I prefer less over others who are more relaxed and encouraging, coupled with the strictness of the Bikram style. I still appreciate what the hardcore instructor has to offer me and I try to take this to as encouragement. The only person I can control is myself, including my perception of others.

    Regardless of how experienced one is, yoga should be challenging and preferably more “relaxed” or “chill” when it comes to the instruction and the teaching. While this style or approach is what I prefer, I did take on Bikram yoga and I do like it. It is not my regular or only practice, nor do I wish it to be (and no judgment to those that choose it as their only practice). I go when I feel like mixing up what I’m doing.

  112. Tierle says:

    Bikram Yoga = Nazi Yoga. These people are ridiculous zealots. I love hot yoga, but it took me doing the full 2 classes of Bikram to realize that it was a practice given by a bunch of nutbags.

  113. Yoga Nazi afficionada says:

    Bikram Yoga is for STRONG DETERMINED people. You obviously aren’t one of them. Go back to your sissy yoga where you can “relax”

    • Rafael says:

      Typical comment of a Bikram practicioner. If you were a YOGA practicioner would never responded that way.

    • DavidS says:

      Please Rafael, please explain why the 26 hatha yoga postures of the Bikram sequence aren’t “real”.

  114. arexismc says:

    Bikram is not for anyone who isn’t a serious student of yoga. There are so many different types of yoga so that it can be appealing to every type of person, no matter their mental or physical needs. Don’t go to Bikram unless you are very disciplined, committed to pushing yourself phyically, determined to advance your ability to focus, and ready to start learning how to breath deeper than you ever have. This is one of the most difficult practices with poses that (assuming you are doing them right) will challenge your body head to toe. Aside from the heat (which detoxifies, cleans, and softens the skin while burning more fat and deepening stretches), much of the class is done with a straight spine and tight abdomen. Also, the breathing exercises teach you to use much greater lung capacity than you do naturally by strengthening your throat. I do Bikram a couple times per week as a part of my overall practice, rather than as my only practice. The 26 poses are enough of a challenge to keep you working at it. Every time I go, I get deeper into the pose and work even harder at alignment. Everyone should try it at least once. You will be surprised at the feeling of accomplishment you have if nothing else. It’s so beneficial in so many ways. But this isn’t for those who go in expecting to just stretch, do some yogalates, and/or relax to some meditative sounds.

  115. Dana says:

    Just did my first class last night. (I did Bikram-hot once before–2 years ago). Im in much better shape this past year and blame laziness for stopping after one class 2 years ago. I really liked it! Different, but I personally felt it was literally a wonderful head-to-toe body wokrout. I am so sore today; but a good sore! Im going back tomororow night and Probaly on saturday or sunday. I like regular yoga as well and I’ll def. mix those up, along with the gym. I felt so incredible when I left and the heat was rough when I first walked in, but as we got moving, not as bad. Ironically. 🙂

  116. Tomasz Goetel [Hot Yoga] says:

    Reblogged this on Tomasz Goetel and commented:

    Here’s a classic experience of a beginner, written after coming to a hot yoga class, in this case bikram.

    It’s very good for us as teachers to understand the beginner’s way of observing things. We can then begin to improve the quality of their experience for them!

    I’ve always thought that just INSTRUCTION is not enough! We must also provide INFORMATION why we do what we do, and how that may change lives.

  117. anysroad says:

    Sorry, but I have a problem with your article, in fact, it has been nagging me. Everybody is of course entitled to their opinion, but the way you talk about Bikram yoga seems very righteous, even though you don’t seem to know a lot about it. It seems your problem revolves around a shitty teacher and the fact that you couldn’t take the heat. Pun, of course, intended. Which makes me sad, because I love Bikram, and it always makes me a bit sad if other people don’t because they found themselves on a smelly carpet, with a teacher who had nicer abs than themselves or because they assumed it would be something it never pretended to be? Anyhow… here are my two cent to the story, teacher and student in one…
    You seemed to have a very preconceived notion of what yoga is or should be. Yoga is not defined as relaxation, lights out and soothing music. If you just want and need that fine, but don’t blame the yoga when you don’t get it.
    Bikram yoga is designed to be a beginner’s sequence, so no, the postures themselves are not that hard yet I still find them challenging after 8 years of practising. I find it even more challenging to find stillness in the postures and in between as well as stringing it all together to become a moving meditation, which it is meant to be. If you didn’t find them challenging at all you must be a very avid yoga practitioner and have a very calm mind to being with. One of the biggest challenges in Bikram however lies in finding relaxation with the postures. Against all odd and sweat drops.
    You speak of people being hyper-competitive and I really wonder where you got this from. Especially considering that you don’t find the practise to be challenging. I was never taught anything else than to keep my focus on my own mat and my eyes on my own body and to basically mind my own business. Do I sometimes look around and envy someone who is doing an especially solid forehead to knee? You bet I do. But I also admire someone who knows their body well enough to sit down and be completely still when they need a break. And if either of them inspires me to work a bit harder on my posture or my stillness, I wouldn’t regard that as competitiveness.
    In regards to a set sequence being boring I think it is an entirely subjective matter whether one agrees or not, but one shouldn’t forget to mention that Bikram is not the only yoga style that has a set sequence. I personally find it comforting and it makes me less dependent on the teacher. I know that the sequence is physically and energetically balanced and it doesn’t matter who teaches. I wish this could be said about some other yoga classes I have taken. Now to the teachers – and let me say first – the teacher you describe really sounds like an ass. Lucky for me I have never met anybody like that in all my time practising. However a teacher is not only in charge for individual students, but for a whole group and to hold the energy of a whole group. This energy does get disturbed when people do leave the room, talk, or do other things than doing a posture or being still. That is simply a fact. You don’t practise by yourself so it is yogi etiquette to think about your neighbour as well and that entails to do as little as possible to disturb them. I agree the teacher should have probably phrased it nicer, but in the end it was her responsibility to remind new students that consideration for fellow practitioners is appreciated and expected. For your own sake and the sake of others. To say you are paying and thus entitled to do whatever you please in a group setting is simply not okay and not accepted in any other group activity either.
    When I teach I try to nurture students and that comes with encouragement. Do I yell at them if they can’t go any further? No. Do I tell them to push and see how far they can go? Absolutely. So I guess in the end Bikram for me is the wonderful equilibrium of accepting my body’s (and mind’s) limitation yet challenging me to overcome them and that is what I want to pass on to students. Sorry to read that it wasn’t that for you.

  118. megaworldasia says:

    All yoga if it’s taught well is good for you. If it’s not taught well then it’s not so good for you. And therein lies the problem with Bikram/hot yoga. Because it’s the domain of the younger age groups it has younger instructors. I’ve taken classes in Dubai and Thailand and in all instances the instructors, although proficient in leading the set routine, had very little knowledge of anatomy. Yoga, for those that don’t know, actually means union; the union of mind and body. It’s also much concerned with the healing and realignment of body to make the individual healthier and more balanced. As one one progresses in their involvement in yoga you should become more aware of the imbalances in your own body. Walk down a busy street and take note of people in front of you and you begin to see their imbalances; that they favour one side or the other. This is caused by long term imbalances to the physique. The true practice of yoga is to correct these imbalances through a scientific approach. If you are young, without past injuries and you want to sweat then Bikram is good. If you need rehab on past injuries, such as I have, then I would recommend Iyengar. Case in point; the hero pose in Bikram has the knees angled in and feet splayed out as you lie back towards the floor. If you have knee problems this pose will just create more damage. No Bikram instructor I’ve seen has any understanding of this; once again due to the lack of knowledge of anatomy. In Iyengar classes you are told that, regardless of which version of the hero pose you are doing, the knees must always be in vertical alignment. I still do Bikram but I am aware of the limitations of it’s instructors. Some of the 26 poses are challenging for me; in particular the balance poses. But the routine is missing some of the classic standard yoga poses; downward facing dog, shoulder stand, plough pose, lotus and a few of the standing poses.

  119. Amanda says:

    I think the largest and most basic point is being missed. Bikram is about the stretch of the muscles. And heat will help with the stretch. Yoga/meditative/whatever aside, your truly stretching out the muscles, and strengthening other muscles you don’t normally target in regular workouts.

    I run and although I am not a lover of Bikram, I do admit it helps stretch everything out which helps greatly in my running.

  120. kharmakhare says:

    I’ve also faced problem with bikram yoga & heard from many others about the same problem.But the yoga is taught differently at every studio or class.The most important thing is how much devotion you are giving at the time of yoga.The Bikram yoga might not be one of the best but it is still considered as one of the best in yoga industry.But I believe yoga should be taught in nature in open air not in studios.

    • Bob Smith says:

      Just came across this thread, which has a variety of interesting view points. To address some of the points made:

      1. The concept of a hot class, introduced by Bikram but now used for a wide variety of hot classes, is pretty simple – he wanted to mimic the conditions he trained under in his youth. In India, believe it or not, it is often around 40 degrees with high humidity. The last poster above me said she thinks Yoga should be taught in the open air, which is fine if you live somewhere warm, not so practical in England in December. The hot environment is designed to mimic the outdoor conditions in the homeland of Yoga.

      2. On the original article’s points: if you found the series too easy, then quite frankly you just weren’t trying hard enough. You get out what you put in.

      3. To say it’s hyper competitive and that you didn’t find it relaxing is a misnomer – any Yoga teacher, of any flavour, will tell you that Yoga is non-competitive and that you only focus on yourself and your own practice. If people aren’t doing that, that’s there problem, not yours. As for not relaxing, an aerobic hot class, whether Bikram, or Hot Vinyasa Flow (etc), is not going to be a relaxing experience all the way through, much like any aerobic exercise.

      4. “Most of the time when you do Yoga there is soothing music…..” This is just patently untrue. Categorically, incorrect. What you are describing is probably a restorative or Yin class. You certainly won’t find that in any Ashtanga class, for example.

      5. Your attitude about the girls who were disturbing the Savasana, arguably the most important posture in a class and the point where everyone will be most keenly focused on themselves shows you really didn’t understand what you were trying to achieve. Your comment about “I’ve paid, so basically I should be allowed to do what I want” is just purile and childish – you wouldn’t expect to go into the cinema and chat away with your friends, so why would you think you can do what you like in the similar group environment of a Yoga class? Having said that, part of the skill of a good teacher is being able to let people know when they are behaving inappropriately without sounding like you’re telling them off.

      6. Hot Yoga is not about relaxing through the class, but being relaxed and nicely stretched by the end of class (another reason why the savasana is so important – this is when you get to feel all the benefits of what you’ve done during the class). It is simply not possible to raise your heart rate and feel relaxed at the same time.

      7. Personally, I do agree with your point about a Bikram class being the same set of postures, in the same order every class. Aside from the risk of boredom after a while, it also encourages muscle memory, where your muscles automatically start to tense because your brain knows which posture is coming next.

      8. Your final paragraph demonstrates you really don’t get the point of Yoga at all. People come in all different shapes and sizes and just because someone doesn’t look like a bronzed God/Godess with a figure to die for does not mean they aren’t an excellent teacher with the flexibility, strength and experience necessary to guide you in your Yoga path. Obviously if they are massively overweight and can’t do the postures, then that’s a problem, but you do not need to be a stick insect to practise or teach Yoga. And anyway, you shouldn’t be concerned with anyone else’s body, just your own.

      You do come across as someone with a huge sense of entitlement who doesn’t understand the impact your actions have on those around you. When you’re trying to balance in a tricky posture, having people fartarsing around on their mat next to you is hugely distracting and ruins your concentration. This is true of any Yoga class.

      Yes, you are paying to be there, but quite frankly it sounds like you very much ARE in need of a lecture.

      • Ms. Titties says:

        You would be perfect for Scientology too. And through in a little E.S.T. while your at it. You fool.

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  122. Ava says:

    Bikram yoga is definitely for everyone. It is for me though. I have gone on and off since 2008 and it has improved my health considerably. It’s important to remember that many poses are about pushing your body followed by poses that relax your body completely so that healing can happen. It takes time to find that place in yourself but when you do there is no better feeling.

  123. Jocelyn Oldham says:

    Ha, my thoughts exactly. But these classes are PACKED! It’s so odd. Just started at a new studio and the two instructors so far sound like auctioneers, non stop talking and the clapping and snapping to change the pose!? I feel degraded. Who wants to be snapped at!? (Literally snapped, like a dog, huh).

    Gonna stick out my living social unlimited month and find a new studio.

    Not to mention being a curly haired girl, I don’t wet it all too often but theres no way getting around a full shower after these classes… And it’s a huge time commitment!

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