Happy February! Since yesterday was the first day of a new month, I wanted to change up my normal gym routine a bit, so I decided to go to a Bikram Yoga class at Ann Arbor Bikram Yoga. For those of you not familiar with Bikram, it’s also known as hot yoga, and it’s a 90 minute class that’s done in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees…when you’re describing it, it sounds crazy, but it actually has many (supposed) benefits. The class consists of going through a series of 26 Asanas, or poses, and they are designed to bring wellness to your whole body. The website for the Bikram studio here in Ann Arbor says that “the warm room allows for greater flexibility, it minimises muscle strain, lactic acid build up and reduces the chance of injury, allows for greater cleansing of the body and helps build tremendous stamina and endurance.” This actually wasn’t my first time trying Bikram Yoga, as I tried it in college a few years back, and really enjoyed it. However, upon going to my first class yesterday, I was quickly reminded of just how much Bikram Yoga makes you sweat…I’m someone who doesn’t sweat very easily, and even when I’m running, I generally create only minimal perspiration. Bikram Yoga is an entirely different animal, as you perspire to the point that any clothing you’re wearing (which should be very minimal given the temp in the room) will be completely soaked. (This also causes the studio to smell…well let’s just say, less than pleasant…) In the beginning of the class, I felt a little overwhelmed just because the heat is so intense, and it was very crowded (Bikram Yoga has really grown in popularity over the last few years). You do a series of standing poses first, which are fairly challenging as your body is still acclimating to the heat. Then you progress to the poses on the ground, which seemed a little easier, but maybe I was just more adjusted to the heat. By the end of the class, you feel so accomplished and refreshed, like you have sweated out all your impurities. The Ann Arbor Bikram Yoga website features a laundry list of Bikram benefits, touting that regular practice reduces stress, improves muscle strength and flexibility, promotes a sense of well being, eliminates toxins, and promotes weight loss. Bikram is said to burn tons of calories in one class (one website I consulted claimed that I would burn 1170 calories in one 90 minute Bikram Yoga class!), and I would imagine this is part of the reason behind it’s surge in popularity. However, I feel that the workout it self can be a little misleading. By simply being in the studio, you’re going to sweat a ton, however, if you’re not really trying to push yourself doing each pose, you’re not going to burn the calories and reap the benefits. I say this only because there were a definitely a mix of body types in my class yesterday, and it appeared that some of the other participants were there simply to sit in the heat, as they weren’t really doing any of the poses? Bottom line is that Bikram Yoga can be a great addition to your normal workout routine, and if you don’t mind heat/profusely sweating, then you’ll probably really enjoy it, however, don’t let the heat fool you–you can’t expect to go to this class, not try to do the poses, eat an unhealthy diet, and expect to lose weight. As for me, I am going to continue going, but this isn’t something I’ll be doing every single day; I prefer variety in my workouts and still enjoy other things like running, weight lifting, and Zumba. Although, who knows, it’s only been one day, maybe by next week, I’ll be a more devoted yogi…till then, namaste!