I went to my first ever **Bikram Yoga **session last night at Bikram Yoga Perth on Vincent Street in North Perth. For those who don’t know, Bikram Yoga consists of 26 asanas, or poses, performed in a 90 minute session in a room which is heated to about 40 degrees Celcius.
When I walked into Bikram Yoga Perth (that’s actually what it’s called - Bikram Yoga Perth), I found myself in a waiting area with tons of people already inside. Shoes are to be left outside (I hope no shoe thief walks past one day and steals everybody’s shoes!) Most people there were girls, but there were 5 or 6 men as well. Most of the girls and guys looked super fit. I only saw a couple of overweight people in the room which is either a good indicator of how fit this thing makes you or a bad indicator of some people maybe feeling intimidated to do a sweating Yoga session in the same room as 30 super slim fit girls. It’s really a shame and I’m hoping it’s the former.
So anyway, I walked in and waited a couple of minutes in line as people checked in at the reception area. When I told them I was new they got me to fill out a registration form. Bikram Yoga Perth has an introductory offer of 10 sessions which you can take any time you want within their session timetable for $20, so I took them up on it. There were quite a few new people other than myself as well, which got my hopes up.
When I finished the registration form one of the girls at the counter gave me a quick explanation of what Bikram Yoga is and what to expect. She said because I’m new I may feel nauseous at times and if I ever feel sick I should sit or lay down and focus on my breathing. However, she indicated that I should try to push through and at least attempt every pose as much as possible. She also said that it’s very discouraged to leave the room at any time for various reasons. First, the sudden change in temperature isn’t healthy. But also, she said that if I walk out the first time it’ll implant the idea in my head that it’s ok to walk out the next time, or the time after that, etc.
After that I went upstairs where they have changing rooms. The female changing room isn’t huge, but it also isn’t cramped (when I got there most people were already changed). It has three showers and two toilets, a large mirror, benches, and cubby holes. The Bikram Yoga Perth website pretty much encourages wearing as little clothing as possible. I wore a sports crop top that I used for running and moisture-wicking shorts which were originally also purchased for running. There was one girl there who was also new and she wore full on pants and a long sleeved short - I can only imagine how hot it would’ve been for her. A lot of the men only wore shorts and took their shirts off. In other words, wearing as little as possible is accepted and encouraged in there (for good reason. That room is boiling).
The session started promptly at 6pm. The instructor doesn’t actually do the poses - she ensures that more experienced people are always in the front row so that others can follow along while she watches to make sure that everyone is pushing as hard as they can and doing every pose correctly. She pretty much doesn’t stop talking throughout the whole session, but it isn’t that annoying sort of talking where you just wish they’d shut up - the talking actually helped me to zone out a bit and focus on myself as she gave instructions. She encouraged everyone to try their hardest and not stop pushing. Backwards bends had to be deep. Knees had to be locked. Stomach had to be constantly sucked in. She said when you take a deep breath your ribcage should expand so much that your ribs are visible. She said it’s supposed to hurt. She basically tortured us for 90 minutes. But it was good torture!
I was half expecting the room to start smelling swetty and gross after a while, but this didn’t happen. Sweat was rolling off everyone and we weren’t allowed a hand towel to whipe it off. I was sweating like…like…a really sweaty person, but nobody smelled. Ok, so there were a few poses on the ground that were kind of smelly just a little bit. But during all of the upright poses there was no stinkyness at all.
I managed to last through the whole session and attempt every pose. There were a couple of times when an inkling of wanting to quit creeped into my head, but I pushed it out and soldiered on. I really wish I could say the session was fun, but it wasn’t. It was hard. So hard. And I think that’s how it’s meant to be. I didn’t go over there to have fun, I came to exercise for fitness purposes and I think that’s what the session gave me - great exercise.
I expected my whole body to hurt the next day, but today just the small of my back hurts and my legs are feeling a little sore. I suspect the worst of the pain hasn’t hit me yet, but who knows. I definitely hope to go back next week (it’s encouraged that you come back within 24 hours after your first session, but I have prior committments). The only issue is that Bikram Yoga Perth doesn’t seem to be easily reachable by public transport and after the session I had to walk in the dark to the Perth train station.
In conclusion, my Bikram Yoga experience was a positive one. I did not find Bikram Yoga fun - but I found pushing through it and challenging myself to be very rewarding. I encourage everyone to try it at least once.