I have been waiting to try Bikram Yoga for a while and so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Hot Bikram Yoga were opening a studio locally to me in London Bridge. I bought a 30-day pass over a month ago and have been waiting (not so) patiently until I could get stuck in. This weekend, my moment arrived!
What the flip is Bikram yoga?
If you’re not in the know, Bikram yoga is a form of yoga consisting of 26 poses performed in a room heated to about 40 degrees. The idea behind it is that the heat warms your muscles, allowing you to perform deep stretches safely. As with non-sweaty yoga there is also a strong focus on breathing and focus, which is intensified in the heat. The temperature also means that Bikram is an intense cardiovascular workout, and so the benefits are above and beyond what can be expected from a normal yoga class. All in all, it’s a 90 minute miracle class.
I had my first class on Sunday, the day after the studio opened. It’s a lovely space, calm and clean, and the staff were really welcoming. A member of staff chatted with me about what to expect and then I was off to get changed and get stuck in!
The studio is open before the class begins so that you can go in, acclimatise to the heat and clear your mind. The lights are dimmed and the room is obviously hot; you cannot help but relax. The class is taken by a single instructor on a raised platform. More experienced Bikram-goers are encouraged to stand at the front, whilst newbies such as myself are encouraged to stand at the back. This is so that you can mimic those in the know and it works very well.
The class is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 different postures, as well as a breathing exercise at the beginning and at the end. The instructor caters for all levels; you’re given the basic posture and then the more advanced modifications so that you can push yourself as far as you feel comfortable. You’re never made to feel silly if you cannot manage a pose and both instructors I’ve had have been really encouraging. Despite there only being one instructor they really make the effort to address everyone in the class and will set you straight if you’re struggling and encourage you if you’re doing well; it’s a lovely environment. I’m not the most body confident girl but there I was, bending this way and that in my sports bra and shorts without a care in the world – it really is liberating.
I have taken two classes; my first class was hard and I did consider quitting but I persevered. My second class felt easier and I was much more comfortable. On your first class you’re advised to just aim to stay in the class for the full 90 minutes as acclimatising to the heat is imperative, so stick with it. It gets easier, I promise!
You will sweat. You will be surprised at just how much you sweat. I’m talking full body slippery dripping sweat. At first it’s a bit uncomfortable (no-one is used to sweating that much) but I quickly got used to it and you will too. Take at least a litre of water and stay hydrated before your class. The more you drink the more you sweat, and the greater the detoxifying benefits will be. After just two classes my skin is ridiculously soft!
I left feeling very relaxed with none of my normal post-exercise aches, pains or twinges. I am first and foremost a runner and so am prone to being stiff and sore, and think that Bikram may just be the solution I am looking for!
The space at London Bridge is brand new and everything is very shiny and nice (technical terms). The studio is spacious and clean and although the classes are full there’s plenty of space to perform the exercises. The changing rooms are bright and clean and the showers in particular are gorgeous (word of warning for the shy; it’s an open shower space). In the changing room it can get a little tight on space at times (e.g. when the end of one class and start of another overlaps) but there are plenty of lockers so your stuff is safe.
The reception desk rent out towels if you don’t want to drag your own about and they sell padlocks for the lockers too. They also have a great selection of electrolyte tablets/powders and Clif bars (so good!) available, as well as big bottles of cold water and an impressive Vita Coco selection – all needs catered for if you’ve not been organised to sort it out beforehand! It’s all hands on deck at reception when booking people in and the service is genuinely brilliant.
- Take an electrolyte drink, tablet or powder. You do sweat an awful amount and the risk with this is that you lose vital minerals which cannot be replaced by drinking water alone. I use Zero High 5, which is zero calorie/sugar and has been shown (via an independent study) to boost fat burning by up to 40%. It’s widely available and also stocked at reception in the studio.
- Towels. Take two. Heck, take three. You need one in the class and it will not be of any use for your post-class shower, so you’ll need another one then too.
- Dress skimpily. Not only will you look banging but you’ll have greater freedom of movement and it’ll help keep your body temperature down. Class goers are of all shapes and sizes and it’s a very comfortable environment, so don’t be shy.
- Push yourself. Your muscles are warm and so the risks are minimised, and as with anything you get out what you put in. This really is the safest environment in which to stretch your muscles out and so push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit – it’ll really accelerate your results.
- Body oil. OK, so it’s not strictly necessary, but spritz it on after your post-class shower to maximise your new smooth skin. Rockin’.
As you can tell, I absolutely love the Hot Bikram Yoga studio in London Bridge! I have left both classes with a big smile on my face and a lovely warm feeling on contentment, and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
I go to the Hot Bikram Yoga studio in London Bridge but they also have studios in Balham and Fulham – you can find out more about them here.
Will you be joining me in some sweating and stretching?