Just wondering if anyone is willing to share their experiences w/ this type of yoga and/or offer any recommendations for a complete yoga and Bikram beginner.
I'm considering trying it, but am unsure if I am actually up for it. Many websites boast that it is generally safe, that virtually any healthy person can practice it, and so on, but I am still reluctant to dive in.
Thanks in advance.
hfox, do I recall correctly that you have some suspected endocrine issues adrenal/thyroid?
I have done a fair amount of bikram. my personal feeling is that unless one already has a steady practice that it can be potentially dangerous. the intense heat is really really bad for the adrenals, for the overweight and the obese (for example) the heat puts an incredible strain on the cardio vascular system. I have seen people in class that should not have been there. When you sweat that intensely, minerals need to be replaced, I have never heard any Bikram teacher recommend that anyone take electrolytes during or after class.
Philosophically Bikram isnt really 'yoga', its just a very easy way for Mr Bikram to make money, its series of 26 postures in an intensely hot room, that is all. Asana practice is just one tiny aspect of real yoga. postures are practiced in order to help the body to feel easy in seated meditation. Asana practice is about the breath, apart from the first breathing exercise, the breath isnt really a focus here.
Frankly Bikram is ok for athletes that want a mindless stretch in a hot room that want to increase their heat tolerance for their sport.
My recommendation would be to seek out an ashtanga/vinyasa style of class. This style encourages you to build heat from INSIDE, by focusing on energetic locks in the torso (google bandhas). It can build incredible heat and have your body and mind buzzing with it (prana). If practiced regularly this style of yoga can give you incredible flexibility as well as functional STRENGTH, in the core and the upper body. Bikram will not give you this. Also ashtanga can be practiced at home or anywhere, bikram, you have to go to a class, so its not as economical as other styles. I hope this helps.
I get nervous about any beginners trying any type of ashtanga/vinyasa, often called 'power' yoga w/out an experienced teacher nearby. (Although I adore and practice vinyasa yoga daily--I worked up to it though.)
I think it can be best (for the body) to start w/ hatha (w/ a great teacher) so you can learn the alignment of the poses and prevent injury. I've seen others injured in (even beginning!) vinyasa classes b/c the teacher didn't slow down to modify and the student didn't fully understand how to have correct alignment in the pose. I'm really conservative though. And I agree about the Bikram specifically. I'd recommed starting w/ hatha yoga, or if you really wanted, starting w/ a beginner vinyasa class (folks accustomed to working out might find a traditional hatha class boring.) But I'd say really pay attention to how the poses feel, don't go too far if it feels wrong/hurts. There is a good burn/stretch felling but also very bad ones...
Like I said, I'm just really really conservative about this kind of stuff--I worry about injury...And I think yoga is amazing and soooo worth trying! Good luck finding the best style for you!
Thank you both for your thorough responses and very helpful suggestions.
62shelby, my hang up was basically with amenorrhea and inadequate caloric intake, but I am still cautious about "pushing it" by doing overly extreme exercises.. especially given the fact that I have been making considerable strides in getting back to normal in the past couple of months.
After having slept on it and considered each of your advice, I decided to back away from the idea of Bikram for the indefinite future and have embraced the idea of other more moderate, introductory forms.
I went to my first basic yoga class ("yoga flow") this evening and enjoyed it immensely. In the next few days, I'm going to keep bouncing around from class to class trying to get better acquainted w/ yoga practice and trying out the various offerings at my gym. I'm also going to delve into Pilates.
My aims are to essentially improve my flexibility, learn how to stretch safely and properly, to maybe improve strength (through possible body weight exercise), and to learn a new way to relax, connect with my body, and feel good. I think I'll be able to achieve most of them through the less strenuous, more sensible yoga practice.
hfox, your decision sounds very wise...I am really relieved to hear that you are steering clear of bikram!
beginners vinyasa is a perfect place to start. Are you on the west coast? Brian Kest is over there, he does some amazing vinyasa practice, with simple postures but the sequencing really gives you a lot of strength and flexibility. A lot of yoga studios have workshops with yoga luminaries that are fun to try and a great learning experience. Have fun!