My coming together with Bikram was born entirely out of boredom while watching Soccer AM of all things. Asked how they kept in shape, a trim Alfie Allen and a trimmer still Max Beasley both replied ‘Bikram yoga’. A Google search and four clicks later I had got myself a much hotter than anticipated date for the evening. For £35, I signed up to a 20-day trial.
For someone who a) likes to exercise on a regular basis and b) likes to try new things, this was the perfect way to ease my way into an activity I had limited practice in. Hot Bikram yoga doesn’t allow for ‘easing in’ though. Forget a gentle induction. Begin as you mean to go on: breathless, sweating beyond profusion and, bizarrely, totally invigorated and obsessed.
The first session was savage. As was the second, the fourth, the fifth and my last. They all were. But I kept coming back. Despite it being the most difficult thing I’d ever endured, my body wanted to go again. I was hooked.
Prior to my initial class, the natural thing for a man surrounded by women to do was seek out those likely to be the best of course. Instinctively, I watched what everyone else was doing; how far could they stretch? Could I hold my balance for longer? But 20 days down the Bikram road and such thoughts were flushed out of me, as were a shed-load of toxins. It’s a human trait to be competitive but Bikram and yoga in particular have no place for it. So I learned. The more I channelled my energies into fulfilling each of the positions to the best of my ability, the more rewarding the classes were.
The teachers encourage that for 90 minutes at a time, the only person to concentrate on is you. How often do you afford yourself such a luxury? Every class follows the same routine, the same exercises, the same bucket-load of sweat by the end. But I gained real satisfaction walking out at the end with a weighty, sweat-drenched towel draped round my neck. I’d worked hard for that.
A couple of tips: breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, take a bottle of water with you and however uncomfortable you find the heat, do not leave the room mid class. Do the exercises properly, have patience with yourself and above all, zone in to ‘you’.
While it was only for a few weeks, I really reaped the rewards of Bikram. Post exhaustion stage and once I had rehydrated, my mind, body and soul felt cleansed; I felt very alive. Near holy even. My complexion was apparently glowing and I also ran the quickest half-marathon of my life so the pain was certainly worth it.
A couple of weeks have now passed and I miss it. Is it a wise investment to spend money on something you really don’t like at all but your body likes? Something you dread going to, that brings you close to fainting? I think it might just be. #thebikrameffect
Hot Bikram Yoga
Ground Floor Studio
25 Heathmans Road
Tel: 020 7036 3855