Beet-red face. Intense gazes. And sweat—LOTS of sweat. Sound like a scene from high school public speaking class? Close, but not quite. This charged scene comes from a Bikram yoga studio, a form of yoga performed in sweltering105 degree temps. Fellow Avant Gaudy gal, Mariefe, recommended the class to me claiming it toned her up and helped her shed a little weight. Eager to rid myself of my freshmen fifteen (ahem, more like twenty), I decided to give Bikram a whirl.
So just what, exactly, is this Bikram thing? Bikram is a form of yoga founded by Indian yoga guru Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury. The first US School was founded in San Francisco in 1972. The yoga itself involves a series of 26 separate poses performed in a 105-degree room. Claimed benefits of Bikram include the release of toxins, weight loss, cardio-vascular health, un-stiffened joints, flexibility, and a plethora of other health perks.
When Avant Gaudy office-mate Nayla and I arrived at the Lincoln Park Bikram yoga studio we had absolutely no idea what to expect. We filed into a spacious mirrored studio. The instructor, a twenty-something guy with a wrap-around head mic, led the class in a monotonous, continuous stream of yoga commands.
It was INTENSE. With limbs quivering and droplets of perspiration streaming down my face. I must confess the first half of the session made me feel nauseous and faint and I had to sit down for a while. The instructor assured us these sensations are normal. The hour and a half session passed by surprisingly quickly. After picking up my sopping towel and stepping out into the cool outdoors, I felt, well, good.
So go ahead, give it a try. The studios in Chicago offer a $29 month-long beginner rate: http://105f.com/
But be forewarned: this stuff ain’t for wimps.