Tab Tries: Bikram Yoga

For the second edition of ‘Tab Tries’, The Tab sent Izzy Cockerell to find out what all the fuss was about with Bikram Yoga. Read on to get the lowdown!

bikram yoga bristol tab Izzy Cockerel tab tries the tab bristol university of bristolt

Bikram: It’s hot work

Like herbal tea, or opera, I’m not sure if I actually like yoga or I just think I like it because I know its good for me.

As I watched my fellow yogis bounce into Bikram Yoga Bristol in their skimpy gear, I wondered if they felt the same. Does anyone actually enjoy this?

I mean, I get child’s pose. I really do. There’s nothing so comforting as being in the foetal position. But in forty-degree heat? I wasn’t so sure.

Beforehand, I expressed my doubts to my housemate, a regular Bikram-er. She had one piece of advice. “Make sure you don’t eat a thing all day before you go. Or you’ll throw up.” What rubbish — I promptly ignored her.

An hour before I was due to be there, she walked in on me in the middle of a particularly boisterous tea party. She paled.

“I hope you haven’t eaten any of that,” she murmured, eyeing the chocolatey detritus on the kitchen table. It was troubling. When I got there, I questioned Margaret, the bubbly New Zealander who was taking the class:

“No one’s ever vomited in your class, have they!”

“Of course not!” She chuckled. Phew! “Well, only a couple of times!” she breezed, “But you know what, they had chocolate right before they went in! Can you imagine!”

We sighed collectively at the idiocy of those poor yogis. My palms were already sweating.

Feeling the heat?
Photo: Jessie Fuellenkemper

Bikram Yoga Bristol is tucked away behind St Nicholas’s Market. The clientele are a mixed bunch – plenty of first timers (I’d wager they don’t rely exclusively on repeat custom), but also some hardcore, holistic types.

The room is heated to forty degrees – but it’s the humidity you need to worry about. Forty percent humidity equals sweat. Rivers of it.

I could have wrung my t-shirt out by the end and, apart from perpetually clammy hands, I’m not a very sweaty person.

In fact, I’m usually a bit chilly. I’ll be the first to moan about the lack of heating in our house, so it was quite a luxury to be in such an extravagantly heated room – for a time.

After the first ten or so sun salutes, though, everything gets a bit fuzzy. Margaret’s voice floated through my consciousness, through the incessant heat, telling me to bend my body this way or that in a voice somehow both soothing and insistent.

Photo: Jessie Fuellenkemper

At one point I almost passed out. At another stage I wasn’t sure whether I was sweating or crying or both.

But I was reassured it was just the ‘physical and emotional toxins leaving our bodies’. No one likes those nasty toxins.

It’s a few days later now, my skin is pretty clear and the whites of my eyes spookily white.

My housemate even says that she ‘never gets BO any more’. I’m inclined to believe her.

It strikes me that if everyone at Bristol ‘practiced’ Bikram, we’d be the most limber, glowing, fragrant, energetic super-race of students out there.

And, if you can hold a three-legged-downward-dog (don’t ask) in what are essentially jungle conditions, you could probably do just about anything. Bikram leaves you feeling like that.

So perhaps we should all get down to St Nicholas’s Market, pronto, for the first day of the rest of our lives.

For more information about Bikram Yoga, please visit the website.

Photos: Jessie Fuellenkemper