After reading about how all the celebrities keep their bodies in shape from hot/bikram yoga, a group of my girl friends and I decided to check out what all the hype was about. We found a yoga studio located near our homes and signed up for the beginner month and prepared for our first session-and you do have to prepare! After a full day of chugging water, and making sure not to eat a large meal at least 3 hours before class, we headed into the studio with slight fears on whether we will survive the 90 minutes in 105 degrees.
As the class begun, I was surprised to see everyone and anyone in class. Guys, hot yoga is not just for the girls! All ages, shapes and sizes, beginner to advanced and even one of our own Chicago celebrity was in class. And the nice thing is that once class begins, everyone is so focused on surviving class and getting the most benefits that you only are paying attention to yourself, not the people around you. The instructor was friendly and cued tips for all beginners to get used to the poses and perform properly without injuring ourselves. About 7 minutes into class, we were sweating more than I ever had in my life and was floored how even the simplest movement felt that much more strenuous due to the heat and humidity in the studio.
The 90 minutes flew by and I ended class feeling proud I made it through my first class, but I did also have a “cleansing” feeling, which they say is from sweating all the toxins out of the body during class. On the way home, our group of girls came to the general consensus that although challenging, we enjoyed the class, felt good afterward and knew we had a good workout.
Hot/Bikram yoga is not for everyone; however it is a great addition to a workout plan, or a workout in itself. According to Mayo Clinic, not only does yoga increase flexibility, it also helps control stress, anxiety, increase your overall fitness, may improve breathing, promote weight loss, and help manage chronic health problems.
- Bring your own yoga mat if you have one, if not most studios offer rentals for a small price (same for towels)
- Most studios recommend attending class most days of the week to get the most benefits.
- The first class is hard, but worth it. I recommend preparing prior both mentally and physically but drinking lots of water and not eating a heavy meal prior to class.
- True Bikram is done in a carpeted room. You can imagine how sweat and carpet can smell. Many studios in Chicago now have wood floor. If the smell may bother you, ask which flooring the studio has before you go.
- See your doctor prior to your first visit if you have health conditions that may be affected by heat, humidity, and exercise.
- Don’t be that person in a tee-shirt. You will sweat through everything you are wearing so dress appropriately. Girls wear exercise capri pants or shorts with a cotton or workout tank. Guys, many I saw actually wore swim trunks, but basketball shorts work too.
Chicago’s hot/bikram yoga studios
- The Chicago School of Hot Yoga (opening in March 2010, Lincoln Park)
- Bikram Yoga Chicago (studios in Wicker Park & Lincoln Park) $29 First timers special, 31 days (starts at first visit) unlimited classes at either studio
- CorePower Yoga (studios in South Loop, Gold Coast and Oak Park-March 2010) New students one week free and not only for just hot yoga classes
- Bikram Yoga Andersonville
- Bikram Yoga in the City (off Chicago brown line “L” stop) $29 New Student Special for 30 consecutive days
- Om on the Range Yoga Studio (Ravenswood) 1 week unlimited for new students-$20
- Self Centered Yoga (Roscoe Village) New Student special 1/2 price your 1st class-$8. All classes Friday $5
- Yogaview (Studios in Bucktown & Wicker Park) Suggested donations (pay what you can at Division studio) $16 drop in per class
What is Bikram/hot yoga? A sequence of 26 specific poses performed twice each during a 90-minute practice in a hot (105 degrees Fahrenheit) and humid (40%-60% humidity) studio, outfitted with humidifiers and furnaces or space heaters, depending on the size of the studio.