With today’s temperatures topping 100 degrees in New York, it’s an easy joke to put a Bikram adjective on everything. You know, it’s Bikram softball in Central Park, Bikram dog walking, how about a Bikram bar crawl? It’s cute and it’s all over social media posts today. But it is also a little bit sad that the essence of Bikram yoga gets transmitted as being all about the heat.
Yes, our heat is there, even in the winter. Its detoxing and muscle-loosening role is essential to the series. At once it makes the practice difficult and exhilarating, challenging and intimidating for beginners. It’s a hurdle you have to get over, not just when you’re new, but even for veterans. But the yoga is so much more than the heat.
There are all the physical benefits of the postures and the sense of accomplishment at conquering them step by step. There is the focus on breathing, the rejuvenating power of stillness. The discipline you practice and learn goes far beyond not wiping away dripping sweat. The strength you build is physical and mental. There is the experience of sharing energy and effort with a roomful of people pursuing the same goals.
On a good day, it is possible to move entirely beyond the heat and become absorbed in the meditation. And it’s possible to have one of those days when it’s 100 degrees outside. You might even consider it a head start.
How do you describe Bikram yoga to people, beyond the heat?