Bikram Yoga – A Newbie’s Review

Nature Boy and I are going to Puerto Rico in May, and because I want to look relatively appealing in a swimsuit, I’ve recently started a workout and diet program. I’m doing pretty well with it, but more on that later in a later post.

Anyway, during a visit to my chiropractor, I was moaning and groaning about how sore my muscles were from my new workout routine.  He said, “You should try Bikram yoga. It would help you a lot.” To which I immediately responded, “No. Way.” I’d practiced yoga plenty of times before and loved it, but I’d never tried “hot yoga”, nor did I have any interest in doing so.  He continued to extol its many benefits, and told me that yes, it was challenging, but he knew I could do it. I told him I’d think about it.

If you’re not familiar with Bikram yoga, it is a series of 26 postures, called “asanas” practiced over a period of 90 minutes, in a room heated to 105 degrees. Yes, ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE DEGREES. Have I mentioned that I hate being hot? I sweat like a whore in church, and my face gets redder than your shirt. (Just pretend you’re wearing a red shirt, k?) So there was no way in hell (how fitting) that I’d be going.

But dammit, he’d planted this little seed in my brain, and it was like a challenge had been issued. (I’m sure he didn’t think of it this way, but I have this tendency of taking small things and turning them into something much bigger. Dramatic, much?)

I began to Google. And read. And talk to people about it. Most were like, “Hell no, I’d never do that!” But one of my friends at work had done it before and assured me it was good. Hard, but good.  I told another friend JJ about it, and she became intrigued as well. So, after a couple of weeks of extreme internal angst, we decided to go for it.

As recommended on our studio’s website, we made sure that we were well-hydrated before class. (I was so hydrated, I think my teeth were floating.) After work, we made our way to the studio, our stomachs in knots from the nerves. We were absolutely terrified. After the requisite sign-in and handing over of the cash, the instructor took us through orientation.

We were only to bring our mats, towels and water in the room. Once inside, we were to maintain silence. And once class started, we were told not to leave the room unless it was a medical emergency. Also, we were not allowed to sit next to each other for the first class. For some reason, all of this information did not inspire calm in either one of us.

After changing into our yoga attire (tight-fitting clothing recommended, shorts above the knee), we headed into the room.  I said a silent prayer for our survival, and we parted.

The room was like a dance or aerobics studio, horizontal with mirrors in front and a platform in the front/center for the instructor. It was carpeted, which puzzled me, considering all the sweating that goes on in there. Yeah, best not to think about that.

I spread out my mat, covered it with my towel and then lay down on my back like everyone else in the room. I knew that we had about five minutes before class would start. As I lay there, random thoughts popped into my head:

“OK, yes it’s hot, but not THAT hot. This shouldn’t be a problem.”

“OMG, what if I have to pee? I can’t leave the room, and I don’t think peeing constitutes a medical emergency.”

“OK, just try to calm down and think happy thoughts. Clear your brain, Suzy.”

“I’m going to die.”

“God, will she just get IN here already??”

Finally, the instructor came in and we got going. She took us through the first section, which included all the standing poses. Poses that look SO easy in pictures, but were anything but easy in practice. Part of Bikram is holding each pose for approximately one thousand years, trying to stretch deeper and deeper, while moving whatever body part(s) into the correct position as the teacher calls out instructions.

Speaking of the instructor, she talked the entire time, constantly guiding us and pushing us to go farther. I know some people have said they find this distracting, but if you actually tune in to what she’s saying, you get so much out of it. You may think you’re doing it correctly, but then she says something that clicks, and you’re like “Ohhhh, I get it now!”

Anyway, during the standing poses, I was sweating SO much and Oh, hello Tomato Face! Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that during orientation, the instructor told us to try to NOT wipe the sweat off, to just let it fall. Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? Well, it is, but everyone is doing it, so you really don’t give a rat’s ass at that point. But all that sweat made things very slippery. I’d go to grab my foot and it would slip out of my hand. So much for perfection.

At that point, the heat was bad, but I was dealing with it fairly well. I was more focused on getting the poses right. But my heart rate was sky-high, and my muscles were getting quite a workout. So when the instructor announced that we’d be going down for the floor series soon, I was so relieved. Finally I’d get a break.

Um, no. The floor section was what almost put me over the edge. It just seemed to be getting hotter and hotter, and I was getting so much more tired and overcome. I remember thinking to myself, “There is no way I’ll EVER do this again. This is insane.” At one point I really wanted to leave, but I knew that I had to stick it out.

At long last, we were finished and lying in final Savasana (also called corpse pose. Appropriate). Which basically means I was lying flat on my back, with my eyes closed, pretending to be all namaste and everything. When in reality, I was just thanking the good Lord that I was alive, and wondering how long I had to lie there before I could get the hell out of that room.

I made my way out, reuniting with JJ. We exchanged looks of triumph, exhaustion and “OMG, WTF?” We hobbled to the locker room, on the verge of collapse (OK that may be a teensy bit dramatic) , gathered our things and walked out. As we were leaving, the instructor asked us how we liked it, and we said, “……………………” We were truly speechless. And for me that’s saying a lot. (Obviously, judging from the length of this post.)

JJ and I congratulated each other, and got in our respective cars to leave. I had to sit in my car for 10 minutes or so before I felt confident enough to drive! My body was shaky and I was still breathing heavy. But I felt so wonderfully light, airy, and high as a kite. (Not that I’ve BEEN high or anything. Ahem.)

When all was said and done, I was so proud of myself for having the courage to do it and the determination to keep pushing when I just wanted to quit (or die).

So, did I like it? I sort of hated it while I was doing it, but loved it when I was done.

Will I do it again? I already have, and it was easier the second time, although I think I was sweating about twice as much as the first time.

Will I continue with it? Yes, I’m planning on going at least once a week. There’s something kind of addictive about it, in a masochistic kind of way.

So that’s my Bikram yoga story. If you’ve read this to the end, you deserve a medal. Anyone ever done it? What were your experiences? Anyone want to do it but you’re too scared? Leave me a comment and I’ll fire you up.

Namaste. 😉



  1. Posted March 5, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    You had me at Puerto Rico! 🙂

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Yes, can’t wait for that!!

  2. AZ Colleen
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Way to go you!

    I’ve got a boss who does it (and loves it), and get this – in the summer, because it’s Phoenix and the outdoor temperature is already like 5 million degrees, some studios will even raise the temperature above 105! I’ve never tried it, but I do enjoy yoga… But heck, I’ll just wait another month and I can do it out in my backyard for free. 🙂

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks!! I did it again yesterday, and the heat was absolutely brutal. I think it may have been hotter than 105. Everyone was sweating buckets. And yes, just get out there in your backyard and get going! 😉

  3. Posted March 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always wanted to try that. I find it really hard to motivate myself for classes these days. I have a small window when the “kids’ gym” is open at our YMCA and there are a few classes during that time that I’d like to try. Yet I never seem to get there at the right time and I generally end up on the treadmill. No Bikram at the Y – but maybe a local studio… It’s on the list.

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Motivation is so hard to come by sometimes! I just happen to have a bunch right now. I hope you can find a class and at least try it once. It’s definitely an experience!

  4. Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Um no. Nuh huh. Never gunna happen. Ever.

    My hair will get all sweaty and I spend AGES straightening it…

    {you are awesome for doing that you know. What next, walking over hot coals?}

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      That’s exactly what I said at first, Kelley. The last time I did it, my hair was COMPLETELY wet, like I’d just gotten out of the shower. Totally disgusting. And I’m going BACK this morning!! I laughed so hard at the hot coals comment. Why can’t I be as funny as you? Damn you Kelley, and all of your awesomeness.

  5. K8
    Posted June 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    I love the idea of this. There’s something about sweating a lot that is very cathartic. I am also thinking of doing it in my backyard. In the summer in Phoenix, it’s 105-115. I’ve heard that the studio is 40% humidity. Our outdoor humidity is very low, less than 10%. Any feeling on how that might affect things?

    • justmeandthevoices
      Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Oh it IS very cathartic!! I would definitely recommend doing it a studio first. In the studio, you can’t leave unless you’re close to death. 😉 The goal of the first class is to just stay in the room. Even if you’re just lying on your mat the whole time, you’ve accomplished something huge! In my first class, and in others, there were times when I just felt like “I’ve GOT to get out of here!!!” But after a couple of minutes that feeling passed, and I stayed. Once you finish your first class, you have such a feeling of accomplishment!! And for every class thereafter as well. Go for it!!! 🙂

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