Bikram Yoga, for those who like it HOT!

by Joy Nedved

After a full month of binge drinking, toking, and late night snacking my body was starting to rebel. I actually could feel my liver crying. I casually remarked to one of my healthier friends that I had “broken” my liver and she advised me to detox. Detox? It sounded interesting and slightly star-esque. “Doesn’t Amy Winehouse do that?” I thought. Oh wait, that’s rehab. Maybe I’ll do that next month.

My friend informed me that detoxing was a way to rid my body of the toxins accumulated due to all of the bad things I eat or drink. A good way to start to detoxify your body is through something called Bikram Yoga, also known as Hot Yoga. There are only a few certified Bikram centers worldwide and Amsterdam just happens to have TWO. I decided to do some more research.

I found out that Bikram Yoga is a precisely designed yoga series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. It is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40.5°. The heated room allows for the warming up and stretching of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Supposedly, if you do all twenty-six exercises systematically, fresh, oxygenated blood will move throughout your body to each organ and restore all systems to a healthy working order. Excellent! Hot Yoga could definitely help to fix my over-polluted liver.

I immediately made an appointment with my friend to go to Bikram Yoga Amsterdam on Centuurbaan. She advised me to bring a yoga mat, a hand towel, and an extra towel. We showed up 15 minutes early to register.  I was a bit stunned when the guy came out wearing gym shorts shorter than my ten year old sister’s, but figured it was all part of the yogi, granola, “I wear used clothes” vibe that most hippies aspire to. He spoke in English (always a bonus) and then explained to me that I could rent a yoga mat, a towel, or buy water. I already had all three so I was able to go straight to the dressing room whereupon I discovered that I was inappropriately dressed. Over dressed. I was the only woman not wearing a halter-top, jog bra, leotard, bathing suit, and/or shorty-short-shorts. I asked my friend if we had accidentally gone to a Bikini Yoga class instead. She rolled her eyes and headed to class wearing, as you may have well guessed, shorty-short-shorts.  I took a deep breath, took off my t-shirt (I was wearing a sports bra), rolled up my sweatpants, and walked into a class half full of guys in Speedos.

I found a spot in the back far away from the mirrors, guys in Speedos, and the instructor. However, it was just my luck that in this class the instructor stands at the back and a Speedo clad guy nabbed the spot in front of me. The instructor then asked everyone who was a beginner to raise his or her hand and told us that it was perfectly okay if we began to feel nauseated and/or dizzy. What? He then said we could not drink water until he instructed us to. Again, What? Then he said something magical, “Whenever you feel the need, please stop, relax, and have a lie down.” This was my kind of instructor.

For the next 90 minutes I stretched, lunged, contorted, and sweated more than I have in my entire life. The poses were not very difficult and I felt comfortable enough to take breaks when I felt dizzy. The instructor checked in often and was helpful in getting me to turn or position myself correctly. The hardest part was holding onto a pose because I was disgustingly sweaty and it was hard to ignore the barely clad Speedo guys around me. Men, if you must wear them, just know that some things should never be done in a Speedo. Never. Trust me. Women, just because you can wear shorty-short-shorts doesn’t mean you should. Trust me.

I left class feeling relaxed but still feeling as if I had gotten a pretty thorough work out. I was also grateful for the extra towel that I had brought. I needed it to dry off. I slept like a baby that night and didn’t even feel sore the next day. After 2 more sessions over the next 9 days I felt healthier than I had in years and my liver had finally stopped hurting. I think I may actually like it, hot- yoga that is. This class will come in handy especially on the cold, wet, rainy days here (also known as every other day). Now, if I can just get over my Speedo and shorty-short-shorts aversions…

Bikram Yoga Amsterdam
Korte Prisengracht 91
Centuurbaan 426

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