Bikram Choudhury, the hot yoga innovator, is a very controversial figure in contemporary yoga. Some love his style and credit it with transforming their lives, others find him distasteful and his methods dangerous. What's your experience with Bikram yoga? Readers Respond
I have mixed feelings.....
- I had a very bad Bikram experience. Several years ago, I used to teach yoga. I practiced a few times a week, either Astanga or "power flow" yoga. I went to this class expecting great things. And the teacher was awful! It's not that she didn't know what she was doing, she was highly skilled and knowledgable. I know that Bikram requires a special certification, so it's not like just anyone can hop up there and teach. But she was mean! I told her I had a few years experience with power yoga, and she looked at me like I was an inferior human being. She scoffed at my yoga rug (apparently, she also rents towels). She said things to the class like "if your hands are sliding, it means you are WEAK!" She told us to make sure we sweated only on the towels, so we could "take your stink with you" when we left. I was horrified. You know, my hip flexors had never felt better than they did after that class, but I refused to ever go back. Sadly it's the only Bikram studio in town. Too bad!
I loved it
- Bikram was actually the first style of yoga I tried and I was immediately hooked. After every class I felt like I'd had a great workout AND a full-body massage. There were definitely some teachers at the studio that were much better than others, in spite of the fact that they all receive the exact same training.
Where I live now there is no Bikram studio, so I attend vinyasa classes which I also enjoy.
Seems quite phoney, and quite dull
- I love Vinyasa in a hot room, but 30-34 not 40. I thought I'd give Bikram a go as it's so popular. I've been to a few classes, but I won't be staying once my intro special offer is used up. Why? It's an illusion that it's a great workout: you sweat a lot because it's really hot, that's all. Some of the poses are challenging to balance or stretch, but overall it's not that challenging compared to power yoga. The room has no natural light, and smells of hot rubber yoga mats. There is too little focus on the upper body and arms - nothing that compares to downward dog/plank/handstand etc in vinyasa. There is no flow, it's all static, which is partly boring, but also just not very athletic. It's always the same, so you might really improve at one stretch, but have a whole set of tight muscles you never work really. The thing I dislike most though is the instructor yelling EXACTLY THE SAME THING EVERY TIME. And, people, you can't "detox" by sweating! That's salty water.
- —Guest vinyasa for me
56 years young
- I was introduced to Bikram yoga in Alaska. My first teacher, Rick Resnick was awesome. The year was 2001. I now attend studios in Austin TX that are excellent! Bikram yoga is not for everyone....although I personally feel it could "help many different challenges" if the person could allow and work with determination in poses and heat. I experienced many wonderful yogic styles,pose and schools(I have ever taught yoga). For me, the Bikram poses and classes are wonderful...despite critics and doomsayers ....I have seen the healing forces of many students through practice of Bikram. The best studios are in Austin,TX. Wonderful caring teachers that guide and help you. Don't condemn if it's beyond your liking...move on to another yogic experience. Let it shine,heal and balance the ones that Bikram yoga pulls in.
- —Guest Robin
I'm on the fence
- I'm 52 and my 20 year old son and his girlfriend are really into this so convinced me to try it. I thought I was going to die the first time but a nice lady in the locker room told me "just try to make it through the 90 minutes, even if you don't do the poses". So I did, I have gone now at least 10 times. I am starting to enjoy it more. Lucky for me, I am in an area where the variety of students is so wide, I don't feel like I need to be a yogi master. I am not very flexible, could never do the splits or touch my toes but I am getting there. I feel like my arthritis in toes is getting a break too. When friends ask me about it, I don't go overboard recommending as I am still waiting for noticeable weight loss results and will let them speak for me. I do get a lot of compliments on how good my skin looks.
- —Guest Shelly
- I am a Bikram Devotee. As in any type of athletic activity, there is a pace one must pay attention to, especially in the beginning. It is the responsibility of the student to listen to their body and know their limitations. If it hurts, don't do it, or at least modify the posture. Bikram is a marathon, not a sprint.
- —Guest Guest Ginger
Bikram caused my lower back pain
- I was a Bikram devotee for about 3 years and loved going to class. Since I'm a Type A personality, I pushed myself and was able to get better and better each class. Unfortunately, the "pushing until you can't stand" or "bending over backwards until you can see the wall" really did a number on my lower back. As a result, I've suffered from (sometimes) debilitating back pain since leaving Bikram yoga. What has improved my back is a vinyasa practice which greatly helped my core strength, which the Bikram cadence of poses did not. No more bikram for me!!!
- —Guest Denise
Pain for New Student
- I went to Hot Bikram Yoga to improve my flexibility. I am fit and healthy female, regularly work out with TRX, Dumbells, cycle. On my first class, I wasn't advised on what to expect. Teacher was pushing everyone the same. As a strong minded and just strong person, I was pushing myself to the limits if not beyond. I was pretty much 'wiped out' for 2 days after, with a little energy and a mild back pain. Nevertheless, I'm went back in 48 hours. It was a different teacher, who atleast asked me couple of questions during the class but I pretty much was copying what others were doing. Now, since the morning after, I have a severe lower and mid back pain (shooting) when I change position from sitting to standing, lying to sitting, etc. I've been applying cold, ibuprofen in and out for 48 hrs with no improvement. Starting to feel feverish as well. Think a trip to a doctor is on the cards!!
I'm not against Birkam Yoga, Maybe needs a difficulty option for beginners and better coaching? TMel
- —Guest Mel T
I Love Bikram
- I love it. I love the strictness, I love the fact I am not allowed to leave the room, I love that teachers push me passed my comfort zone. I love the routine of knowing what every posture is going to be. I love the way it makes me feel physically, and mentally. If you don't like being told what to do, or you don't have the willpower to stay in the room or you choose to believe that Bikram is bad for you because it pushes you too hard then there are plenty of flowy, non challenging styles of yoga. If I'm going to give up 90 minutes of my day I want the best workout possible and in my mind this is it.
- —Guest James
- I am hooked on Bikram Yoga, I went to the first class riddled with aches and pains left over from a bad injury. I was 60 lbs over weight, depressed to a clinical state. 6 monthes Later I am down to the same weight I was in high school, I have a 32 inch waist from a 40 inch, I don't feel sore at all (just tired muscles) my posture is better, I sleep better and am not depresssed at all. I feel literally 10 years younger (I am 38). I cannot say enough good things about Bikram yoga! The only thing is the dehydration, I feel like I manage my life around that - I drink like 4, 5 litres a water a day lol.
- —Guest Mike
Can't Live Without It
- I am in my early 30's, and I have practiced many types of yoga since the age of 17: hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga. I started Bikram after also feeling very reluctant based on things I had heard about him. After working his method for five months I am in love. I have not lost weight at all, but have tightened up considerably. I have eliminated a chronic back pain problem that was stress related. I feel happier and less stressed. I have met some great teachers, and regularly attend class here in LA. I encourage yogis everywhere to give it a try before judging it like I did.
- —Guest Angie
Good, but more of a workout than yoga
- I have been practicing Hatha yoga for a year now, with wonderful results on a physical, mental and spiritual level. I always thought of Bikram as practicing vinyasa flow in a sauna and therefore it did not appeal to me. A friend heard about a 10 days trial at a Bikram yoga studio and asked me along. One problem though, I live abroad and understand little of the language. My knowledge of yoga helped me greatly as I already knew all the poses, but when I managed to attend a class taught by an English teacher, I realized how much I was missing, like the fact we should keep our eyes open, the breathing etc... that day I left a lot more sore than normal. It is hard work but the feeling afterwards is amazing. I am however missing the meditation/spiritual dimension, although by keeping my eyes open at all times and the drone of the foreign language instructions (I understand some drills by now though), I feel like I am meditating
- —Guest Gin
Bikram V. Yoga
- I love the bikram approach, having a 90 minute routine that works the legs arms and spine. I hate the Bikramscript. My practice is to tune out the instructors, ESP if what they say overrides what my body is telling me. The script does interfere with the mediation, that makes it yoga not workout. I have found some quiet teachers, and some useful instructors. It is Bikram yoga, not Bikram workout. It is important for the student to enter any studio with a yoga intention, otherwise they might hurt themselves. This is a yoga class not a gym workout.
- —Guest Kathleen
You'll Get Used To The Heat
- I've been doing this for 6 yrs and help me mentally and physically. Drink lots of fluid and don't eat anything 3 hrs before class starts. You'll make it all the way thru and will feel soooooo energized!!!!
- —Guest Peters
bikram has done me wonders
- First time I went to Bikram was about 4 years ago and smoked a pack a day and was a little bit hung over with not to much sleep. But my friend told me to come and I did. I don't regret it at all to this day. I am thankful she brought me because after that first class, I have never felt better!! Yes its hot in there, be hydrated like the instructions tell you to do before class and do not eat 3 hrs before. If you need to eat, eat something light and healthy. The instructor was awesome and very understanding when I told him it was my first time. He said just try your best to stay in the room the whole time. If you need to rest, just lay down on your back. I stopped for about 2 years for no reason but now am back at it in full force and loving it. Never felt better, more alive and feel better after each class. Its about pushing yourself and getting that stretch. People who put down Bikram have had either just a bad instructor or not well enough prepared.
- —Guest jeff