Bikram Revisited: Still Don’t Like It

I was lucky enough to have my first post about Bikram Yoga make it to the Freshly Pressed page, which led to hundreds of people weighing in on the hottest, stickiest form of yoga. It seemed most people agreed with me: Bikram was not for them. But when I posted I had only been to two of the ten classes I paid for through Groupon. Being a frugal gal, I intend to get my money’s worth. With eight classes left I had plenty of time–usually while sweating profusely in a stinky room filled with half-naked strangers–to think about many of the points the commenters raised.

First and foremost, I loved this comment:

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.

I wondered the same thing! We were told not to eat anything for two hours before class, and one of the instructors told us that if she knows she’s going to class, she can’t eat after noon, other wise she feels the food rolling around in her stomach. Now, I’m not sure I could feel anything floating around in my belly full of water, but I could not bring myself to go into the class hungry. I grabbed a handful of almonds before I left my house. And the slice of apple I grabbed in the lobby on my way out after class was heaven.

According to one of the instructors, Bikram can burn up to 1,200 calories per session. If I’m going to a late afternoon class, I haven’t eaten for two hours before class, and I’ve been pounding water all day, you can be pretty sure I haven’t managed to eat 1,200 calories that day. That doesn’t seem healthy.

But I did also think Bikram might be a good replacement for a cleanse. If you can detoxify yourself while exercising rather than by drinking some funky concoction, then why not? It’s just about as much fun as a cleanse!

One of the things I found most interesting in the comments was that several people said they felt like if they could get through Bikram yoga, they could survive anything. So I tried to think of Bikram in this context while I was there, sweating elbow to elbow with my fellow yogis (this time with one of the more pleasant instructors). It didn’t work.

I’m sure that to some people this yoga practice presents a very real challenge. I do not share this feeling. Sorry guys, I tried.

In sheer practical terms, the only thing Bikram prepares me for is dealing with a really unpleasant summer without air conditioning. (I wonder how many of the people that love Bikram go home and crank their central air?) I also find the idea that Bikram is testing my will-power, or toughening me up in any way rather dubious.

You know who really pushes himself to the limits of human endurance? This guy:

This is not to say that some people don’t find real value in Bikram. Clearly some do — and many of those people chimed in — but for me, something about Bikram feels extremely contrived. Someone said, “Let’s take an ancient practice, throw in some heat, patent it, and charge people a lot of money under the guise that we’re helping them be better people by making them sweat more.”

What it comes down to for me is this: the true tests of my endurance and character don’t cost $99/month.

And with that, I’ll leave you with my favorite comment:

If I’m going to do anything with the lights on that makes me sweaty, uncomfortable, and makes me worry about my body, it’s definitely not yoga…

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2 thoughts on “Bikram Revisited: Still Don’t Like It

  1. savasana addict says:

    There’s two main points disturbing me about Bikram:
    1) the heat allows you to overstretch muscles without noticing, leading to injuries, and doctors agree that it puts unnecessary strain on your heart and other organs.
    2) Mr. Bikram is the person who forbids anyone to call it Bikram yoga who does not pay a hefty annual fee to him, just for the privilege to instruct the very same postures in the same order as he does (hence all the places offering “hot yoga”). It’s the best marketing model/money making machine ever.
    At least with Ashtanga you don’t have to pay anything once you’re certified.
    Sorry, being on a rant, but should it not be about yoga, not money?

  2. Vanessa Grassi says:

    Hi Theresa! I’ve just nominated you for the Versatile Blog Award because I’ve enjoyed your blog so much. I said your blog is: Interesting observations and opinions on various things, she’s unafraid to express her opinion.

    I hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

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