Bikram yoga diaries

Jo Moore

Web Merchandiser, johnlewis.com

If you can stand the heat…

Searching for a new form of exercise to get in shape for the summer, I came across an advert for Bikram yoga classes near to where I live. I’d tried Hatha yoga a few years ago but thanks to Bikram’s meteoric rise in popularity and several endorsements from friends I was eager to give it a go.

Bikram yoga classes, I learnt, take place in a hot studio (40ºC with 40% humidity). They run for 90 minutes, taking you through a series of 26 yoga postures.

I’ll be honest, during the first 15 minutes of my first class I hated it! My body was incredibly over-heated, making me feel nauseous and dizzy. However, my sage yoga instructor constantly urged the newcomers in the class to stay in the room, resting whenever we needed to and allowing our bodies to get used to the heat.

By my second class, I was hooked! That meant it was time to invest some equipment and a couple of new outfits designed to help me out in the heat.

My yoga centre hires out mats for £1 a time, so if I was going to continue, my first yoga essential had to be a mat. Gaiam’s Premium yoga mat is great as it has a non-slip surface that stays in place as I work through the postures.
Manuka’s Luxury mat also caught my eye due to its closed cell construction that prevents bacteria growth and makes it easy to clean. With several tough yoga workouts a week, this is an important factor.

Another Bikram essential is a towel to place over your mat. As you get sweaty during the course of a class, your yoga mat will become wet and slippery, making it impossible to maintain your grip during a posture. I had been taking along an old beach towel to my classes, which didn’t quite fit my mat and tended to gather up in the middle, so I was pleased to find this anti-slip towel from Manuka. It’s made using super-absorbent materials so it won’t feel too damp during class and helps maintain grip.

Next, I needed a couple of outfits that wouldn’t make me too hot. Due to the variety of postures, clothing for Bikram needs to be close fitting, with moisture-wicking properties for distraction-free practice. Manuka’s Red  Racer Tank top in 2 stylish colours is comfortable and flattering. Or, if you’re ready to bare your midriff, a cropped top with support is absolutely ideal for Bikram.

For the bottom half of my outfits, again I looked for tight clothing that’d keep me cool. These ¾ tights from John Lewis are made using bamboo fibres, which is naturally breathable and quick-drying. Shorts are obviously a good idea in the hot studio and these ones from adidas have the winning combination of a funky print, comfort and a flattering shape.

Now fully equipped and motivated, there’s no stopping me! So I’ll soon be fit and ready for the summer months with the added bonus of a new-found inner calm.