A 90-minute yoga class in the great outdoors? Piece of cake, some yogis will say. But with Bikram yoga, a form created by Calcutta-born Bikram Choudhury, there’s a catch: class is conducted in a studio that’s heated to 105°F or approximately 40.6°C. When you are doing yoga like this in the Arabian Desert there is no need to heat the room!
When I go to Dubai (and I will someday…I’m determined), I will sign myself up for at least one Bikram yoga class there, even if it happens to be summer and the beating sun has already made its strong presence known.
Instructor Brian Ward started offering Bikram yoga classes in 2003 at a studio called Club Stretch in Bur Dubai. Then Mona Banki, a teacher under Ward’s direction at Club Stretch, branched out in 2010 to initiate Bikram Yoga Middle East, whose studio is located in Tecom, Dubai.
Many classes are offered on a ongoing basis, and package deals can tremendously improve the look of class rates. It’s worth a try, even if only for the amazing feeling you’ll get the instant you step out of the steamy studio and into the lobby, which will feel crisp and cool and refreshing. If you’re like me, you’ll get the urge to keep treating your body right and eat a nice big healthy meal as a reward.
Bikram yoga is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s for those who want to get their hearts pumping throughout an intensive workout – a codified workout that’s a set of 26 different postures and 2 breathing exercises, one to open class and one to conclude it. Designed to bring oxygen to 100 percent of the body, Bikram yoga is rejuvenating from head to toe. The heat is said to stimulate organs and aid digestion, although caution is due where preexisting medical conditions exist.
You may be feeling a little stressed out just thinking about the heat, but it actually helps Bikram exercisers feel the opposite way. The yoga is training for the relaxation of the mind. Chances are that if you can stay focused while dripping sweat and balancing on the ball of one foot, you will better be able to stay calm and concentrated in any other challenging situation.
In this short video on Bikram yoga, London’s leading teacher, Michelle Pernetta, says that “in the long term, you can expect to get rid of your aches and pains and have increased strength and flexibility, and really improve your stamina.”
Stamina increases especially for those people who are so committed that they take a Bikram yoga class every day. I took a Bikram yoga class in New York City’s Flatiron district yesterday; as a dancer, I find it especially beneficial. When I was chatting with the instructor after class about this kind of dedication, I learned that some people even take two classes per day. Three classes are considered excess; Bikram yoga policy disallows anyone from taking more than two, on a daily basis.
Just remember to stay very hydrated by drinking lots of water before class, and remember Bikram Choudhury’s words: “It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick to start from scratch once again, to be born once again.”
A complete detoxification process awaits you.
Photo of woman in head-to-knee pose, or janushirasana, from Shutterstock