The Heaters can’t cope
Never seen the room so packed at Bikram Yoga North. After piling on the pounds in the Festive Season, sweaty bodies are stretching, pulling, sighing and in some of the more difficult poses, trembling. With more than 40 people in the room, one has to be careful about not whacking a neighbour when entering or coming out of some of the poses. For the first time in 50 classes, the guys outnumber the ladies who normally form three quarters of the class and in some cases 90 per cent. Are guys lazy? Do women care about their health more?
In a normal class, one can wring out a thin towel by the end, but even with the heaters on all night and double-glazed windows, the temperature does not feel the standard 40 odd degrees Celsius and I am not sweating so much. At the end, my towel is wet but not wringing wet. Occasionally windows are opened for short while as others are wilting, but a low (relative) temperature feels clammy as your cold sweat now clings to your body rather than running down it.
Perseverance pays off and I eventually attempt all 26 poses rather than sitting out some of the more advanced ones. Most difficult has to be the Triangle pose closely followed by Camel pose and if you want a full gallery of the torture positions (only kidding) the link is here
The Importance of Wet
Main long-term issue with hot yoga is hydration.
Drink water now and it takes two hours before it is absorbed. Best by far to hydrate before going to class and two Bikram Yoga centres in London apparently do not allow water bottles to be taken into the class itself. As one teacher put it, it is almost too late to starting drinking when you are in the class. The man Bikram himself suggests 4 water breaks, but far better to hydrate beforehand.
Coconut water is the in thing for this but surprise, surprise, the benefits have been overrated by marketing hype and your body can’t tell the difference between natural electrolytes and ones from sports drinks.
Months of trial and error lead me to have a watery noodle soup at least two hours before the class. This can be beefed up with an egg or finely chopped vegetables. Personal favourites for hydrating afterwards are Iranian drinking yoghurt Mahan or the Turkish one Ayran both very similar to Indian Lassi This of course comes in sweet versions too like Mango and is available in better Indian restaurants. Lassi is an excellent remedy when you have overdone things with the Vindaloo or Himalaya Chicken
As an aside, if you want to eat Indian food like you get in India visit La Porte des Andes near Marble Arch. Most Indian restaurants in London are apparently owned by Bangladeshis.
And the benefits? When several friends and family say I look well even after the excesses of Christmas, the message finally sinks in so it’s time to buy another season ticket. Catchie Versace.