I’m having a slight concentration issue in practice at the moment after reading a scathing write up about, what the writer refers to as ‘Bikram’ yoga. In actual fact the article is about hot yoga in general and by the authors own admission is not concerned with the series. I will add the link sometime soon, for those keen to find it the title is similar to ‘Bikram Yoga, not as good as it seems’ – I’m not being lazy in not locating it, as it happens this was only one article in a sea of negativity.

I do agree on one thing: Bikram yoga is not for everyone.

That said, with consultation there are few reasons not to try a session. The author of said article, to her credit, did attend a session and in some ways it doesn’t sound much like any session I’ve had. The motivation to attend was on the anecdotal evidence that so many people she met provided. The experience was clearly not a good one, feeling there was a lack of guidance for beginners and that the heat was dangerous the article is then shaped to command scientific evidence for any said benefit.

Admittedly, if there were some papers to read on the science I’d be all over them. There are, as I’ve covered, some days where it doesn’t feel so great, getting the eating and hydration balance during the day is testing and indeed I’ve had minor stretch injuries. (For those of you who’ve read ‘x marks the spot’ – I have since found that the brusises on the back of my leg were likely to be small veins which can tear if stretched too far but will be longer / more flexible when healed. They have nearly gone…

Science and yoga? It’s not exactly been, from what I can tell, that heavily funded. So whilst there is little tangible evidence of the benefits I’ve not managed to find the ‘scientific’ evidence against neither.

A large proportion of the argument was that sweat will not expel the toxins that Bikram claims to… not a claim that I’ve heard myself. What I have heard, and I’m definitely no expert, is that the postures (also used in other types of yoga) squeeze on the lymphatic nodes speeding up the detox process. As with aromatherapy, my first couple of sessions left me needing a wee on a much to regular basis – by the same principles I understand that to be the lymphatic system draining. Although I’d attempted to hydrate, I don’t think that I’d drunk much more water than normal following the class – I have since learned the error of my ways!

So the heat, (and it really did leave me thinking) is only to allow deeper movement into the postures, increase the mental challenge and (bonus side-effect) get the skin ridiculously soft. Perhaps it’s also designed for impatient people like myself that would loose interest before spending years waiting to be able to achieve a single asana.

There is a possibility also, that the motivation provided to push on encourages people to go beyond their actual limits. I’m guilty of keeping on when I’ve felt dizzy or my vision ‘has a moment’ – but this itself has taught me so much about how my body works. For others, perhaps there isn’t enough guidance, only the views and perceptions of blog-type articles.

More disconcerting was the host of catty retorts from the blogger when anyone had anything positive to suggest, or the lack of response to a few scientific studies that were suggested. As a beginner, of course I’m open minded to the findings of others but personally, I want to see both sides of the argument.

The impact was most unwelcome, as I practiced that evening various derogatory comments from the author towards her visitors spun through my head. It was a challenging and disappointing session, which wasn’t majorly trumped by my 50th session yesterday.

En-route to the studio today I managed to download 365 classes in 365 days. It took me immediately back to the basics – yoga is about meditation. Moving meditation. What relief! I didn’t have the determination to do the double I’d half considered however as I left the studio I received pointed praise – and finally I feel I’m back on track.

Clearly, I do react. I react to badly written damning articles that don’t allow commentators to express an opinion, I react to the motivation of understanding other peoples hard earned experiences and I definitely react to positive feedback on my practice!

In keeping with all views expressed here, I’m very open to both good and bad experiences in Bikram yoga!


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