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New Yogi in Town

June 9, 2011

I drank the Kool-Aid and purchased 10 Bikram classes at a local yoga studio in Bellevue. When I first heard about the hot yoga craze that has been generating quite a cult following all across the world (from my trainer in Redmond to my childhood friend in Israel a lot of my friends have been “checking into” hot yoga studios on facebook these days) I did not think it would be for me. It seemed like some trendy, overpriced and extremely uncomfortable thing. My philosophy has always been that a cardio workout is either running, cycling or elliptical, and yoga is a low impact exercise that you should do if you are injured or pregnant. Boy, was I wrong!

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The big difference with Bikram yoga is that it’s performed in a hot room, at a temperature of 100 degrees, so imagine holding and twisting your body in a variety of yoga poses for 90 minutes in a sauna. It does not sound very appealing, but that’s what makes it so good for you. First, you get a cardio workout because the heat raises your body temperature and your heart rate. During the class, I wore my heart rate monitor to get a rough idea of the calories I burned. I clocked 565 calories! I also chose to bike to the studio so that added an extra 450 calories. Secondly, you are more flexible when your muscles are warm so you can go deeper into the stretches which makes you way more flexible. Third, all the sweating releases toxins out of your system, just remember to come well-hydrated. The poses and the transitions are specifically selected to produce additional benefits like improve your digestive and immune systems, increase your concentration and balance, and slow down your aging process (I am pretty sure most physical activity will do all of these so I don’t believe these claims to be unique to yoga).

I made it through the entire class with my eagle pose resembling more of a scarecrow but I did not let my stiffness discourage my participation. I did not get lightheaded or dizzy which is common for beginners, but I felt a bit nauseous close to the end. The instructor said that’s normal as it will take time for my body to adjust to the heat (I don’t know how one could ever adjust to spending 90 minutes in a 100 degree environment, but I’ll take her word for it). After the class, I looked like I was dunked in a pool which made my ride home pretty unpleasant, but my muscles were loose and bendy which felt amazing after a long run the day before. Since I’ve only done one class, I have not completely converted to a diehard yoga fanatic but I will start complementing my running with at least one yoga session per a week to help with breathing, flexibility and stability on the road.

Have you ever tried yoga?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    June 10, 2011 6:29 am

    “I felt a bit nauseous close to the end. The instructor said that’s normal as it will take time for my body to adjust to the heat ”

    Yeah, it’s not the heat you need to adjust to. It’s the smell of dozens of other people that are also sweating profusely. Takes a few weeks to burn off your nose hairs I guess.

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