Bikram’s and other forms of hot yoga are highly controversial, but so are lot of other fitness activities such as Crossfit, long distance running and body building. True, you can really injure yourself from inexperience, bad advice and trainers, which is why they are all controversial in the first place. It’s unfortunate that the world of fitness is full of haters and those who think their way is the only right way —but that’s not true! The right way is the way you LOVE because it keeps you moving.
Isn’t that the whole point?
I was really fit when I tried Bikram’s for the first time but if I wasn’t, I’m quite sure I would have hated it because intolerable thoughts of insane heat and how hard holding the poses were, would be rooted into my mind …and I would’ve never gone back. You really need a bit of mental toughness to overcome the feeling of suffocation in the smothering heat of a Bikram’s class. Yes, you develop mental toughness if you manage to persevere through multiple classes but it’s much easier when you already have previous experience dealing with this kind of torment, so you won’t be turned off on your first try. But as someone who really fucking loves fitness, I now see it as a relaxing practice to compliment my other workouts, thus my body can feel balanced and rejuvenated.
I still haven’t acquired the discipline to sit through an hour of the other types of yoga (one day…) but I’m a huge fan of Bikram’s because it’s a mix of everything I love when it comes to fitness put in a yoga class: sweat, intensity, difficulty and surprisingly, the heat. When I took my first class, the heat was the monster I was most afraid of— I couldn’t even sit in a bathtub full of hot water because I felt trapped by the steam so I was pleasantly at surprised myself. These days I long to be in a heated room doing yoga.
No, I don’t believe you literally get detoxified and sweat out a significant amount of toxins during hot yoga because that job goes to your hardworking kidneys. No, I don’t believe you can burn fat. When you sweat during hot yoga, you are mainly sweating out water… and losing a lot of water weight (a.k.a. not actually burning “fat”) but that’s not why I’m there. I’m there because:
It makes me feel amazing!
And I want to get a reallyyyy good stretch and to “FEEL” detoxified because you always feel rejuvenated after a Bikram’s class. Did I also forget to mention the challenge? Every class, albeit the same 26 poses, will be hard because you are challenging yourself to stretch deeper and hold it for longer. Like all things fitness, it relaxes your mind, body and soul and is simply a perfect getaway from the stresses of everyday life. I would rather be stressed and pumping out cortisol from trying to hold a Standing Head-to-Knee Pose than stressed out from my day job.
Perhaps one day I will make the time to practice other forms of yoga regularly, but we all have to start somewhere.