Healthy Body

Hot and bothered: how to survive bikram yoga

No one should ever see my exercise face. Normally I manage to skillfully shield the world from my blotchy, red face by running at night when no one is around who can recognise me. For now though, I'm away and I don't feel comfortable running in an area I'm not too familiar with.


Unfortunately, a combination of long hours, French chocolate, French pastries and crêpes have forced me to find some of exercising. One of the girls in my class suggested I try Bikram Yoga. I decided to give it a go, thinking that if all else fails, I can make a funny story out of it.


I visited the Bikram Yoga Centre, in the 9th arrondissement, on a Wednesday evening.

First tip: Drink as much water as you can beforehand. You can't risk dehydration during one of these classes.

Second tip: Make sure to hit a bathroom before starting the class. I got so flustered on my arrival, that I forgot to do this.

Once I had entered the room, I was told by my Canadian instructor Halliday, that I wasn't allowed leave the yoga studio. I defy anyone to stretch into the camel position, when their bladder is on the verge of bursting.


The instructor started the class by warning us newbies that if we felt faint or nauseous, just to sit down and breath through our nose. I had done yoga before, how hard could it be?

First of all, you're not supposed to wear many clothes when you take part in a Bikram yoga class. Wearing nothing but a sports bra and leggings made the "belly insecurity" impossible to avoid.

The sight of yourself in the mirror, contorting your body into shapes it had never been before and seeing other people do it effortlessly doesn't help the self esteem either.


In my attempts to stretch my body like it was rubber, I almost didn't realise how hot it was. Then I had to bend down for a position and little rivers of sweat proceeded to run off my body, from my arms, back, neck, nose and scalp. However unlikely you think it, at one point, I swear, my lips were sweating.


I have no shame in admitting this because this was a common feature around the classroom. It becomes a normality, as does having to take breaks to prevent yourself from passing out and the strong odour of sweat coming from those around me.


Third tip: if you feel dizzy at any point, sit down. It passes eventually.

I was lucky; I picked one of two classes that are taught in English in the centre. The instructor was constantly talking, making sure that we knew the positions our limbs should have been in and the pain that we should have been feeling. This meant that there was little chance of anyone injuring themselves.

I didn't expect to be Jennifer Aniston or anyone during my first session, but I got very frustrated at my lack of balance. I was cocky in the fact that I knew I was somewhat flexible, but there's no point in being able to touch your head on your knee while standing, if you're going to fall over while doing it.

Fourth tip: Ask how long the class is before you enter. Otherwise you'll start panicking like I did when you realise that it has gone past the hour point and you have another 30 minutes to go.

Before doing the next position, the instructor told us the name of what we were about to do. I only remember one name… Savasana. This is where you lie on your back, do nothing and relax. It was a little snippet of heaven in what felt like 90 minutes of hell.

I say that quite dramatically, but really Bikram Yoga is a great way to exercise. After a cold shower, lots of water and time to sit on the couch, you feel great.

I find it extra appealing because despite the horror that is my face at the end of the class, everyone else looks exactly the same.