Oh Bikram Yoga, we’ve had a torrid love affair over the years (more hot than the cold for obvious reasons) but no matter how long I stray I always come back to you for more and swear never to leave again.

Why do I love and (gasp) sometime dislike Bikram Yoga in equal measures? Because 90 minutes in a hot, sweaty room, toe to toe with other sweaty hot bodies is a REAL commitment! (Bikram yoga consists of a series of 26 postures practiced in a studio heated to 38 degrees celsius with 40 per-cent humidity – not for the faint hearted.)

Unlike a strength session, cardio or bootcamp class where I can mentally check out and just ‘get it done’, (for me) in Bikram, I’ve got to be not only physically ready, but also emotionally prepared for the practise ahead. Emotional breakthroughs/breakdowns are common practise in yoga, and no one blinks twice at the site of someone sobbing on their mat halfway through class (most likely during some good ol’ hip opening exercises).

Now don’t be put off by the bucket loads of sweat that comes with Bikram, as there are many other amazing positives to add to the list. There are no egos in yoga, no competing against anyone, no rushing ahead, and no leaving the class early. You have to be present in more ways than one for the whole time, and working to your own capability. And that my friend, is why it’s so important to practice – you have to be present, so you have to check all your baggage at the door and work. The result – a great workout. Oh, and did I say you sweat?

So why the heated room?

A number of reasons actually – not only does the heat allow you to go into the postures deeper while reducing stress and tension, but it also stimulates circulation (thanks to many of the massaging/compression effort to the lymphatic system), encouraging detoxification, and restores health to the entire body – muscles, joints, organs – just to name a few.

Interested in giving it a go?

Most centres have a trial pack of at least 10 sessions, the reason the number is so high is because first time students can feel overwhelmed by the fairly rigorous workout or heat, so it usually takes a few sessions for the love to set in.

My wise words to you – don’t give up after 1 class!! Breathe and enjoy the new experience, rest in child’s pose as often as you need. Also keep in mind that each class will be different, as will the vibe, the teacher and the person next to you. Don’t strive for perfection, strive to be present and do what you can in that moment.

If you are in Sydney below are some great studios that do great beginner Bikram class deals (thanks Body & Soul for compiling – for more locations see here)

Bikram Yoga College of India, Darlinghurst
Studio owner Darren Ma has taken first, second and third places at the Australian Bikram Asana Championships. His two-level studio is hidden in a laneway near the busy intersection of Oxford and Crown Streets. It offers 10 classes each weekday from 6am, and six classes on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cost: Beginners $17 for 10 days, casual class $18, membership packages also available.
Contact: (02) 9356 4999 (02) 9356 4999, www.bikramyoga.net.au

Body Mind Life, Surry Hills
This studio offers approximately 36 classes for hot yoga fans each week. Owned by Nicole and Phil Goodwin, it has daily vinyasa-style yoga for all levels of experience. Classes are based on power and vinyasa principles. For those after a less dynamic workout, there are yin yoga classes (see glossary on page 34). Body Mind Life also has a studio in the inner-west suburb of Rozelle.
Cost: Beginners $25 for two weeks, casual $19, monthly unlimited $119, membership packages also available.
Contact: (02) 9211 4111 www.bodymindlife.com

Power Living, Bondi Junction
Open since May this year, Power Living Bondi is owned by Mandy Kopcho, osteopath Tim Hulbert and Power Living founder Duncan Peak. It offers 38 classes each week, including vinyasa flow at a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius, and restorative and alignment classes at temperatures reduced to about 20 degrees, suitable for all levels. Themed workshops are held every six to eight weeks focusing on postural foundations and breathing. Osteopathy and acupuncture treatments are available in the treatment room.
Cost: Beginners $20 for 10 days, casual class $19, membership packages also available.
Contact: (02) 8065 7315, www.powerliving.com.au

Pure Bikram Hot Yoga, Bondi Junction
This studio offers about 30 classes per week. Scott Valentine opened it after healing his own back injuries with the 26-posture practice. There is also a studio in Maroubra.
Cost: Beginners $20 for 10 days or $99 for a month, casual class $19, membership packages also available.
Contact: (02) 9388 9642 www.purebikram.com.au

It’s important to drink plenty of water before and after your practice and not to eat 2 hours before your session or digestion will be interrupted.

Enjoy, it is addictive!