Going from -40C to +40C – A Month With Bikram Yoga

It’s fair to say that I quite like putting my body and mind through extremes not only in sport but also in my life. Having just come back from ‘adventure holiday’ in Mongolia where I spent ten days in mild -40 degrees, I needed something new. Something different; Something that would challenge me again. Something that would shake my London life schedule up a bit. 

As a regular Yogi who enjoys the magic of a good vinyasa flow I decided to try Bikram for a month. I’ve been to bikram before and absolutely loved it. The ‘sauna’ style conditions make the class and poses really challenging – stretching, training, sweating all at once! That’s exactly the type of yoga I like. Some of my fellow running friends swear by it and so I wanted to explore it at a deeper level. 

A month with Bikram - yoga In Chamonix

I checked the schedule for the next class at Bikram Highbury & Islington and set my alarm. I was told that in order to reap the Bikram benefits you need to go as many times as possible. So on top of my ‘running and gym’ going I decided to start with 3 classes in the first week, 4 classes the second and then 4-5 classes the last two weeks. 

Okay, okay it might not look like a proper schedule-shake up but to me it very much is. I tend to work long hours even after my evening run or gym so adding a new activity to my already filled weekly routine is a tough one. 

A month with Bikram Yoga - at Bikram Highbury nd Islington

My new weekly regime

// MONDAY

AM/Lunch – Gym – Leg day @ lunch time

PM – Easy run (optional – depends on work)

// TUESDAY

AM – Bikram @ 6:30am – 8am

PM – Run (tempo / speed or hills) 

// WEDNESDAY

AM – Morning run with our Like the Wind Run club @ 7am – 8am

AM – Gym – Chest & back – 8am – 9am

PM – Free or an easy run (optional)

// THURSDAY

AM – Bikram @ 7am – 8am

PM – Run @ 7pm – 8:30pm – hill reps, fartlek or long run

// FRIDAY

AM – Bikram @ 7am – 8am or normal Yoga 

PM – Free

// SATURDAY

AM – Bikram @ 9am – 10:30 or Long run 

PM – free or Gym 

// SUNDAY

AM – Bikram @ 9am – 10:30

PM – easy run 

For the duration of the challenge I’m going to try and keep a Bikram diary to record how my body feels before and after each class. Here are the first two weeks

A month with Bikram Yoga

A month with Bikram – Week 1

Day 1 (Tue 9 Feb, 6:30am)

The first class of my challenge – it was hard to wake up that early. Not that I was tired – I was just coming up with excuses telling myself I should stay in the bed – the usual – I will go in the evening, or I can actually run to yoga. I know it wouldn’t happen so I shut my inner voice down, dressed up and headed out. I prepared my lunch and breakfast last night – one excuse less!
The class started at 6:30am with Eva. The room wasn’t too hot yet which was good. Well, only a few days ago my body spent over a week and half in temperatures below -35 so I thought this would be a shock to my system. Surprise, surprise… I managed quite well and enjoyed it. Yesterday I had a leg day in the gym so I my glutes were on ‘double’ fire. All in all it was a great first session; I’m feeling fresh, and ready hit the work desk. A run is planned for the evening so let’s see how my body feels later on….

Day 2 (Thu, 11 Feb – 7am)

7am with Lisa Hong class done! Waking up was much easier – again preparing your food/clothes the night before does make a difference  – so do it! I slightly pulled my right hamstring yesterday and really needed the stretch. Good choice, well made Lenka – Walking is now easier and less painful. Can’t wait for the next sauna-ing 🙂

Day 3 (Sun, 14 Feb – 9am)

Yesterday was my first longish run after Mongolia (2h trail run) so felt a bit stiff before the morning class. The session was good and I started to sweat a lot in the first 10mins. I noticed a slight improvements with some poses which is great. Felt awesome afterwards! Bring on tomorrow

A month with Bikram – Week 2

Day 4 (Mon 15 Feb – 8:30pm – 10pm)

The last class of the day means that you get to enjoy the extra heat accumulated throughout the whole day! Tough class but to my surprise it went really quickly. I did my leg workout so expected it to be hard but felt good. Let’s see tomorrow! It’s now 11pm and I’ll back in studio in about 9hours whoop-whoop…nope!

Day 5 (Tue 16 Feb  – 6:30am – 8am)

I thought I would be more exhausted after yesterday evening class but 8 hours in-between the classes was ok. Felt good and went fairly quickly too. Again, managed to see some improvements under my belt. I’m super hungry tho – perhaps because of the class yesterday (I only drank a hot milk before I went to bed). I’ve got a run this evening so let’s see how my legs feel.

Day 6 – (Sat 20 Feb – 9am – 10:30am)

My calfs were dead from Thursday The North Face launch of Mountain Athletics (1h of circuits designed for trail runners, skiers and climbers). They were painful even when I touched them so Bikram class was definitelly needed. Sauna-ing worked its magic and I left the studio nicely stretched and with less pain.

Day 7 – (Sun 21 Feb 5pm – last class of the day)

I have never ever sweated so much in my life! FUCK – it was friking boiling.

But I loved it.

A lot! The hotter the room, the bigger the challenge. Seriously this was the toughest and yet the best session. 

My Bikram Findings so far 

// It gets hotter as day progresses so if you want to sweat more go for the evening class, preferably the last one of the day

// You are more flexible in the evening so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do some postures you could quite easily the previous day

// Drink, drink and drink loads before the class (jager bombs don’t count)

// Less is more! This goes double for Bikram yoga – the less you wear, the better. Opt for tiny shorts and a bra. No one cares! Really, no one fucking care!

// Don’t you ever leave the room – if you feel like you can’t go anymore just lie down and take a few breaths. Remember, if you leave, you fail – don’t listen to the little evil voice in your head. You can and you WILL do it!

// Drink loads of fluids after the class. Electrolytes are great especially if you run or go to gym on top of bikram classes.

 

You and Bikram? Any love/hate relationship going on between you two or not really?

 

Lenka Istvanova

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