Bikram over Booze – The Healthy Kind of #TGIF!

Did you know, as of October 2018 it was recorded that 30% of young people between the ages of 16-24 have turned their backs on alcohol?

It does appear that what was once the ritual to head to your local on a Friday for an end of week gin with your mates is now a thing of the past. Instead, the younger generation are now steering towards a world of health, fitness, and wellbeing to supplement their spare time.

I moved to Zone 1 London 6 months ago and immersed myself in the post work city drinking culture, but as quickly as I fell into the rhythm, it was short lived, and I soon craved nights in with a face mask and a peppermint tea. Renowned in the office as the health and fitness junkie (and also the annoying one who meticulously checks the labels on EVERYTHING), I’m always keen to try out the latest health fad. I love yoga, but was yet to try the infamous Bikram yoga. I also love heat, and after learning that you burn on average between 500-1000 calories per 90 minute session, I was sold.

After doing some research, a friend and I booked ourselves onto a Friday night CANDLELIT – yes, you read correctly, Candlelit Bikram Yoga Class. The class is 90 minutes long and follows a traditional Bikram sequence, with 2 sets of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. You are advised to drink and hydrate as much as possible throughout the day, as for the first half hour it is recommended not to consume water whilst your body acclimatises to the heat.

I soon realised that I had nothing to wear. I’d been told to wear as little as possible, but I wasn’t quite there yet. One short trip to Lulu Lemon later, I was ready to go. We arrived 15 minutes before the class was due to start and were shown to a mirrored room, dimly lit with candles. It was a blissfully serene environment away from the busy high street outside, but the first sense you are hit with is the overpowering heat. 42 degrees feels very intimidating at first, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider tapping out whilst we still could… Not ones to turn down a challenge, we pulled ourselves together and selected a mat (as close to the back as we could get away with).

My suggestion to anyone wishing to try Bikram Yoga – try it, but approach with the knowledge that it differs from traditional yoga in a number of ways. Discipline, concentration, endurance, but also a sense of satisfaction. You also need to take towels. Lots of towels. One or two for during, and one for after. You must take water, but be prepared that you will be advised (fairly aggressively) not to drink for the first 30 minutes if at all. Finally – MY GOD, do you sweat.

I personally wouldn’t choose to practise Bikram again. The heat and the feeling of the toxins leaving my body was almost euphoric, and you enter what can only be described as a meditative state. However, I found the repeat sequence of poses monotonous and rigid. When I practice yoga, I like to free flow and do what feels good for my body under the guidance of an instructor. This is widely encouraged in most practices. Perhaps 60 minutes and 1 sequence would have been less so, but even then I feel I would like more freedom in the poses. That being said, I felt incredible after. I slept deeply, and woke on Saturday with plenty of energy to manage a spin class! A welcome change from a fuzzy head and a dry mouth like many of my past Saturday mornings, and I could feel body, skin, and mind thanking me for it.

If it was a toss-up between yoga and a night at the boozer, I know which one I would pick!

Author: Katie Sibley