So, the new year is here and to ‘celebrate’ I’ve signed up to a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge at my local Bikram yoga studio – Manchester Bikram Yoga. Well, I’m pleased to report that 14 days in, so far so good. The half-way point is typically the hardest bit and I’ve got to admit that the session I did last night was incredibly TOUGH but I was back today and it was great – no day is ever the same with Bikram yoga.
Doing a 30-day challenge is demanding but the benefits are great. This time of year is a brilliant time to do it too. January is often when we feel a bit lethargic and sluggish after Christmas. My new year resolutions were to burn off the extra pounds I gained while living in Italy last year and to get my Bikram yoga mojo back! So, as soon as I got Christmas out of the way, I made the commitment and signed up.
Tips and what’s a 30-day challenge like?
Well, in my experience (I did two 30-day challenges last year) initially, your body and mind is in no mood for daily, 90-minute Bikram sessions (in 105 degree heat no less) but once your joints warm up and you get into a routine, you start feeling energised, awake and mentally just fantastic. Likewise, your body really thanks you for it and old injuries start healing and your skin has that ‘Bikram glow’ about it (and I don’t mean just from sweating your backside off!)
So, half-way through and I’m pleased to report I feel that touch more toned and my stiff joints are loads more supple again. Also, in this dark, cold weather I personally LOVE spending 90 mins in the gorgeous heat of the studio and enjoy all the cameraderie with the fellow Bikram yoga enthusiasts and the lovely teachers.
Popular – the Bikram Yoga bug…A sign of just how popular and beneficial this type of yoga is can be seen by the fact that just this week the Manchester Bikram studio has expanded and opened a second, very impressive new studio space that holds up to 105 people. It’s great seeing how packed this new studio is with people of all levels giving Bikram a go – from absolute beginners right through to professional athletes. As the man who founded this yoga, Bikram Choudry, famously says: “You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.”
Doing a 30-day challenge is not a breeze though and some days you feel like skipping it (but that lessens after week one). Now and again missing a session is okay but you have to then do a double – yes, two 90 min sessions in one day to ensure you fulfill the rule of 30 sessions in 30 days. I’ve done a couple of doubles and have to stress that you try your best to do one a day as two in a day is very demanding.
Get a yoga routine going…
A daily practice means being organised with your time and factoring your class into your day around other essential commitments. Likewise, as you often end up sweating to drip-wet levels, you’ll be doing a fair bit of laundry. Prepare by having several kits and towels ready in advance – washing two kits at a time, so you’re never low on yoga attire.
Good hydration is key to a good class and 30-day challenge. It’s best not to eat up to three hours before a class (or you feel nauseous) but drinking water steadily prior to and most definitely after a class is vital. You lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium, so I also drop a few electrolytes into my water bottle and keep a stock of coconut water in my fridge at home (it’s fantastically hydrating, tasty and full of natural electrolytes).
Finally, respect your edge. It is NOT a competition – everyone has a limit and you need to respect yours. They say that you leave your ego at the door with Bikram yoga and it’s true. If you’re struggling, sit down for goodness sakes and get your breath back. It’s a sign that you’re listening to your body and conscious of your breath – key to a good yoga practice. It’s amazing how you recover and are back up and enjoying the flow of the class again in no time. Okay, so if you’ve not tried a 30-day challenge, give it a go and if you have a favourite charity, consider doing a challenge for them as a positive way to keep you motivated. I’m doing mine for the Samaritans. Good luck x