Sunday 26 February 2017

Fitness tested: Bikram yoga

Elaine Roddy

Students practice the unique Bikram Yoga
Students practice the unique Bikram Yoga

I love food as much as I love fitness and therein lies the problem. Ordinarily one takes priority over the other but these days I’m finding it harder and harder to deny myself the simple pleasures in life like Haribo jellies and salty peanuts...oh and wine.

Not at the same time of course but in plentiful supply nonetheless. As a result I am on a constant quest for new and exciting (read distracting) ways to stay in shape and keep the energy levels up. Last week I decided to try Bikram yoga.

As an avid fan of Pilates for seven years (give or take a few months off here and there) I thought I was tailor-made for this more advanced form of yoga.

Introduced to the concept by my fiancé's sister who looked amazing after 10 sessions, I headed to the new studio completely unprepared, as I now realise.

Helen had advised me it was a little difficult, it's 90 minutes long and that it's incredibly hot.

Well that was an understatement. Picture contorting yourself into gravity defying poses in a 200 degree oven for an hour and a half. I should have known I was heading into dangerous territory when the instructor, on learning it was my first time advised me to aim to stay in the room for the duration at least!

Before we started, I told Helen that I don’t sweat that easily…well fast forward a mere 10 minutes and there were trickles starting down my face and arms, and they had not even closed the door to start the class!

Within 20 minutes I was struggling to understand the names of the poses and gasping for a breath of fresh air. But the stubborn side of me continued on no longer concerned about the fact that my long T-shirt and leggings combo looked ridiculous as minimal attire was required in that heat.

I endeavoured to at least attempt each pose if only holding it for a few seconds. They say pride comes before a fall and so it did.

I think it was posture number 8 that warranted standing up and sticking your leg out straight at a 90 degree angle then holding it there by your feet (if you could see the end of your foot through the sweat coursing along your eyeballs).

Well unfortunately I couldn’t and hit the deck like a tonne of bricks. I’m not sure if it was indifference, the cult-like atmosphere or the fact that everyone else was too busy trying to stay upright but nobody even batted an eyelid.

In or around posture 15 (of 23) I decided I couldn’t take it any more and with all moisture drained from my body I decided a lie down was in order if I was to remain in the room.

However it was then that the room started to spin so I sat up and but then spots started to appear in the corners of my eyes.

To cut a long, blurry story short, I made a run for the door basking in the blast of air that hit me. But my euphoria was short-lived as the instructor more or less ordered me back in for my own health. Something to do with heart rate dropping too quickly.

I managed to stay in the room for the rest of the session and was overjoyed when it was over and a little relieved that I wasn’t leaving in an ambulance.

Mind you I did feel terrific a couple of hours later and definitely a little lighter and brighter as a result.

I am also now aware that drinking as much water as possible before and during the class helps avoid dehydration and that there is no better way to increase flexibility, balance, core strength and lose a few pounds, though it is not for the faint-hearted.

They say no pain no gain so I’ll definitely be back for more!

For information see www.bikram.ie

Elaine Roddy is Director of Buzz PR see www.buzzpr.ie

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