As a permanently stressed-out person who likes the more physical types of sport, I liked what I had heard about Bikram yoga. This form of yoga is practised in a very hot room (42 °C) and is supposed to help cure and prevent recurrence of chronic injuries, and strengthen your flexibility and immunity. On top of these and many other benefits, it’s supposed to make you calm down and relax. Bikram yoga is supposed to be hard work, which is exactly what I wanted. Honestly, I can’t imagine myself sitting calmly and meditating. Meditation with exercise? Now that sounds better.
Bikram yoga uses a system of postures borrowed from Hatha Yoga. One class takes 90 minutes and is composed of 26 positions in fixed order. Practising in a hot environment is said to make the body more flexible, open up pores in the skin and burn fat.
Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury, a former National India Yoga Champion, more than 30 years ago. Bikram’s Yoga College of India trains lectors who can go on to open their own studios as franchises. Bikram Yoga Prague is one of these. Another school, Yogacentrum, offers similar classes.
At Bikram Yoga, where I went, the number of spots for newcomers in each session is limited. Call and book your lesson in advance. You will also need two towels, bottle of water and work-out clothes. You can borrow an exercise mat there.
Entering the door of Bikram Yoga Prague, you come into a world of pink. No gaudy symbols on the wall or burning incense, but all the the walls are painted pink. And for those males reading this, you should know that I met at least eight guys at the school who seemed to be enjoying the class. There is even one male instructor.
After registration, our instructor gave us tips on what to expect and how to cope with the extreme heat in the practice room. For us beginners, the task was simply to last the whole 90 minutes of the lesson.
My class had about 40 people in a room that could hold roughly 60. We beginners were placed behind the more advanced students so we could watch them and copy their postures.
The room itself, of course, is hot. Heaters on the ceiling keep the temperature stable. On a recent day when the temperature outside was 30°C, the heat didn’t seem overwhelming to me at first, but it does slow you down, sit still and wait for instructions.
As you might guess, the room has a distinct sweaty odor, but of course part of that is yours. I would not recommend visiting the busier lessons which start at 17:30. The room becomes more crowded and the air more difficult to breathe.
After 10 minutes, I was covered in sweat. Drink plenty of water. But I left feeling stretched, calm and relaxed.
Where to go:
Classes (in English) are held at 19:30 Monday–Thursday, noon Wednesday, 10:00 Saturday and 11:00 Sunday. Babysitting is sometimes available – call ahead.
An introductory package (CZK 400) gives beginners unlimited classes for 10 consecutive days. Single lessons are CZK 350. Other packages are available. Students can find towels, water and exercise mats at the school.
Yogacentrum offers courses in “Hot Yoga”. A single lesson costs CZK 250, a three-month course approximately CZK 3,000. Classes are not offered in English, but instructors can help English-speakers with individual attention in class.