Every Bikram Yoga class lasts 90 minutes. 90 whole, hot, sweaty minutes. That’s a lot of time. So much in fact, that the class length is one of the most common reasons I hear people give for why they don’t practice Bikram Yoga. And I totally understand. Responsibilities, jobs, kids, partners, friends, hobbies, and commutes engulf our lives leaving every moment precious and coveted. Surely 90 minutes for a yoga class is far too much. Or is it…
If you’ve bounced around this blog a little bit you’ve probably gathered that I’m a total Bikram Yogi. Not only do I teach Bikram Yoga but I also own a Bikram Yoga studio and have maintained a regular practice for the past 10 years. This yoga, hands down, has helped enhance every aspect of my life and while I’m sure I will blog about that subject at length at some point, I’d like to focus on two things that we all want more of – time and money – and how practicing Bikram Yoga can save you those precious things.
1. Strengthening and Stretching
When I first started Bikram Yoga, I looked at the routine as a pure workout. And it is. The postures create a cardiovascular effect, muscles get stronger, and calories are burned. You can lose weight by practicing Bikram Yoga. You can develop back strength, core strength, leg strength, arm strength. If I were to have “worked out” this intensely in any other setting, stretching would be imperative for recovery and injury prevention. That’s right, I’d have to dedicate a separate 20-30 minutes just to stretch out after the work out. But not in Bikram Yoga, for the stretching is included in the class. My least favorite part about exercising has always been the post-workout stretch. I feel like I should be done, the stretching is boring, and I never know if I’m even doing it right. Bikram Yoga saves you the time of needing to stretch and work mobility after the workout because you’re doing that throughout the entire class. The fact that Bikram Yoga is a workout and a recovery all in one had me hooked at the first drop of sweat.
I’d say on average I crack or pop into place two to three times every single class. These pops and cracks provide such relief and feel just like a chiropractic adjustment. When I’m teaching, I hear these pops and cracks among the students as well. You know how sometimes you have a nagging backache and you swear that all you need is a chiropractic adjustment to put things back into place? Bikram Yoga can do just that. And don’t scare, the heat and humidity help warm the body up so that the ligaments and joints are ready and willing to be adjusted. Don’t get me wrong, I think chiropractic work is incredibly beneficial; it actually goes hand-in-hand with yoga as they are both alternative forms of healing. But it can be cost prohibitive, especially if the treatment is not covered by insurance. Having a regular Bikram Yoga practice ensures that I receive those adjustments, while simultaneously working out and stretching. Hmmm….. so far so good!
3. Physical Therapy, Avoiding Surgery, and Preventative Medicine
Luckily, I have not endured any serious injuries in the past ten years, or really ever. I have had, as most people do, an achy back from time to time, a stiff neck, a cranky knee, and one time a very painful pulled intercostal muscle. Throughout all of these little injuries, I kept up with my practice, and by practicing with very little intensity, I was able to heal rather quickly. As a teacher, I’ve taught people who come to Bikram Yoga to literally avoid surgery. As in they have surgery scheduled on the calendar and then cancel it because the yoga alleviated their pain and reduced or eliminated their condition. That’s powerful! Additionally, I’ve taught students who over an entire decade have never really been injured. They’ve gotten older, numbers-wise, yet they feel younger. No pills, no prescriptions, just prevention. All at the same time of working out, stretching, and adjusting into place.
4. Mental Therapy
I freely admit that I absolutely, without a doubt, would be making a therapist very rich right now if I did not practice Bikram Yoga. Thoughts, doubts, fears, insecurities, stress, anxiety, hormones (gawd – the hormones!) would have me sprawled out on a therapist’s couch at least weekly. (Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but thank goodness we don’t have to find out)! In every single Bikram Yoga class, the teacher tells the class what to do. And when to do it. And how to do it. And the effect of doing it. Know what that means? Whoever is taking the class does not have to think FOR 90 WHOLE MINUTES. That’s right, 90 minutes to clear your head and completely let go. In a decade of practicing this yoga, I never once have left the studio in a worse head space than when I came into the studio. I’d go so far as to say that I’ve never left the studio in the same head space as when I entered. Leaving class, I always feel better. Stress-relief, peace of mind, self-confidence, and most of all self-love are all abundant after each and every class that I take. Now, in order to achieve those same mental benefits without Bikram Yoga, A LOT (that’s a technical measurement) of time and money would need to be invested.
5. Social Life
How can practicing Bikram Yoga lead to a social life? I asked the same thing when I first started. After all, no one talks during class except the teacher, and the more you can focus on yourself during class the better your practice will be. However, a sense of camaraderie and support can be felt as soon as you enter any Bikram Yoga studio. Every student shows up to feel better. Everyone practices to heal. The class itself is challenging, and practitioners realize that. People encourage one another and strike up conversation before and after class. I’ve made and maintained some of my most trusted friendships and relationships through Bikram Yoga.
So where does the time and money factor in with all of this? A regular Bikram Yoga is exercise. It’s flexibility training. It’s a chiropractor adjustment. It’s injury prevention and PT. It’s mental health work. It’s social. It’s all of these things in only 90 minutes.
Think about the cost of a weekly chiropractic visit. And then a therapy session. And then PT. And then drinks with friends. And on top of that a gym membership. Now factor in the commuting time you’d be committing to in order to get to all of these appointments. The costs add up, as does the time. I freely acknowledge that a cost is associated with practicing Bikram Yoga. Students often pay between $90 and $140 for an unlimited monthly rate, but if that expenditure covers the above points, I’d say that’s a bargain.
If you’re reading this thinking that you can’t do Bikram Yoga or that it’s too hot or you’re not flexible or anything like that, I encourage you to simply try. Bikram Yoga studios LOVE beginners. We welcome the broken bodies and those who need healing more than ever. All you ever have to do is the best you can which sometimes means just laying in the hot room and breathing. You will never be judged and you will always feel better. You’ll have more money in your pocket and more time in your day.