Last Sunday evening, my partner (personal and professional) Melissa and I tried “Hot Yoga” at Bikram Yoga here in Pleasanton. It was a unique experience, to say the least.
If you haven’t heard about it, here’s a good description. The basic idea is that the heat makes the muscles and their connective tissue more pliable and receptive to the elongation inherent in the sequence of yoga postures. You also sweat a lot.
When we arrived we were greeted by an upbeat instructor and a small mix of fellow students, which included a couple of obviously experienced practitioners, a very fit occasional participant who Melissa recognized from the Pleasanton Crossfit Gym and some ladies who worked together who were planning a trip to the studio later in the week but wanted a “sneak preview”.
The instructor was a small, lively and authoritative yogi with a pleasant disposition and a clear command of the discipline she was teaching. She was encouraging and definitive with her instructions as we deliberately made our way through the standard 26 poses in the African savannah level heat.
Here’s a quick list of what I liked about it:
- The space, lighting and floor surface of the room were perfect for the type of exercise we were doing.
- Your body does acclimate to the temperature surprisingly well.
- The sequence of poses was varied and repetitive enough that a regular yoga practitioner would stay engaged but a newbie can still follow along and not get lost.
- The pacing is well structured, allowing the body to “wind down” and take more frequent rests as fatigue accumulates.
- Everyone involved from the instructor to the regulars to the fellow first-timers had a positive energy and there was truly a sense of community and shared experience in the room.
As a fellow fitness professional who teaches small group classes, I deeply appreciate the importance of developing a program and atmosphere that makes people feel like they belong and are a unique and critical element of the group experience that day. It’s an art and not that easy to do.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I’ve only been to handful of yoga classes in my life and was quite frankly nervous about the heat and wary of what I expected might be a very difficult pose sequence.
The Bikram studio made my introduction to this new experience a good one and I understand why they have ardent followers.
The question of my making a return trip may be better addressed after we get through these next several 90+ degree days.
You may see me giving it another chance when the clouds and chill of winter comes to visit again!
Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer in Pleasanton, which provides personal and small group fitness training and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com.