I found myself thinking about this, in a momentary savasana during the last half of a recent Bikram class. My second Bikram class, to be exact. As I lay drenched in my own sweat, I couldn’t help but think to myself…is this good for me? All the hooplah the bootcamp-esque instructor kept telling us…”This is an oxygenating move…this is excellent for the descending colon…right now you’re sending vital nutrients and fresh blood to all the nooks and crannies of your body!” I have never questioned the detoxifying affects of yoga in any other class before this. As I said, I was only in my second Bikram class. I purchased a month unlimited for an outrageusly good price…I couldn’t turn it down! I had heard all sorts of talk about Bikram, from it causing yeast infections, to being bad for your heart, to being geared towards those who want to lose weight. Well I didn’t want any of these three outcomes! So until now, I’d avoided the 105 degree yoga studio.
Well, as I lay there sweating, I couldn’t help but wonder…”Is this all a bunch of bologna the instructor is telling me right now? Is this really detoxifying? Would a doctor back up any of what she’s saying? Am I causing myself any DAMAGE? Oh God I can’t breathe…”
I vowed halfway through each class that it would be my last, and yet walked out at the end after final savasana excited for my next class. I’m certainly not in love with Bikram, I absolutely love Vinyasa and Ashtanga far more and nothing could ever replace them for me, but I’m developing an appreciation for this heated form of practice.
I came home and did some research. I found the following site: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-1378/7-Proven-Health-Benefits-of-Yoga.html which was very helpful, although it’s referring to yoga in general. I also read up on other sites that informed me Bikram is indeed a flush for the system, but in the long haul is essentially going to cause your heart to work extra hard for cardio-vascular fitness that could be achieved the same in a far cooler room. I found no evidence that it’s bad for your heart, persay, and also no evidence that it causes yeast infections. I also beg to differ that it causes any crazy weight loss because I’ve never been so ravenous for a day following Bikram class, and I ate far more than I would have on any other day. I also had a mighty thirst, my body literally whispering all day long to please replenish all the lost liquid that morning.
While I lay there on my sweaty back, on my sweaty mat, I came to this conclusion: the research doesn’t matter, nor does the actual definitive answers. I decided that if all the plethora of yoga benefits are true, then fantastic. If half of it is without proof or evidence, so what. Even if some of what yogis preach and promise through the practice has a placebo affect on those who follow the principles, then so be it! I decided that I’ll swallow the little sugar pill whole, because whether or not every benefit can be proven, I feel the benefits. I feel like a more mindful, sound, flexible, understanding, calm and healthy person. I sleep better, I have less back pain, better posture, a renewed passion for life and living, and an appreciation for all the marvelous gifts I reap from yoga.