Almost every junior is confronted with the same dilemma: To go abroad, or not to go abroad. While I love the University of Michigan with all my heart, I felt it was time to venture outside of the small, all too familiar confines of Ann Arbor. Regardless of whether or not my opinion might be slightly biased, this past semester I studied abroad in the best city in Europe: Paris.
This unbelievable metropolis offers a unique study abroad experience as students can fully immerse themselves in French culture. I, for one, took advantage of this opportunity and channeled my inner-Frenchwoman by literally eating my way through Paris. While this may have seemed like a great idea at the time, I can definitely say in hindsight I could've taken it down a notch...or twenty. But nonetheless, part of my terrific experience abroad was the food and I certainly wouldn't take it back for anything. Upon my arrival home, however, I needed to find a way to acclimate back to American society and return to my normal routine.
That was when I discovered Bikram Yoga, also known as "hot yoga". Bikram Yoga is a ninety-minute practice that entails twenty six poses in 105-degree heat. My twin sister, recently turned hot yoga addict, suggested we go together. She boasted about the benefits, claiming it "encourages healthy living," blah blah blah. Sure, why not? I have nothing to lose--except maybe the extra pounds acquired from too many baguettes and cheese.
I'm not going to lie, but my first class at Bikram Yoga was undoubtedly the most draining, miserable hour and a half of my entire life. Even though I wanted to run out of the room screaming-which is highly frowned upon in the Bikram world-I stayed in the room. I'm supposed to sit in this death trap and bask in my own sweat? How is this even legal?
Nonetheless, despite my sour feelings about my first Bikram Yoga experience, I returned the next day--and then the day after that. Before I knew it, I was attending my twelfth Bikram class in three weeks. Although it was difficult to appreciate at first, I now clearly see the overwhelmingly positive effects of Bikram yoga. This practice really does encourage healthy living, as you need to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and receive a proper amount of rest every night.
Bikram Yoga truly encourages healthy life choices. For instance, I stopped drinking coffee every morning and started replenishing with water to ensure proper hydration. Most importantly, hot yoga requires commitment, discipline, and ambition. For me, practicing these key values every day is hugely helpful; providing a healthy foundation for my life on a larger scale than just exercise.
Unfortunately, I can attest to the fact that it takes immense patience to finally realize the powerful benefits of this practice. Therefore, I would like to shed light on the alleged negatives of Bikram Yoga that I feel can be perceived as positives. Firstly, while ninety minutes may seem a bit excessive, it provides for a much needed distraction period before dinner. Moreover, hot yoga requires you to be hydrated, not full of food. Thus, during the day, you are forced to focus on hydrating yourself and eating healthily as to avoid stomachaches during Bikram. Trust me, there is nothing worse than entering a yoga class post Shake-Shack. I don't think I need to provide any further explanation.
Secondly, I understand that spending around 150 dollars may seem like a lot for a month; however, as a yogi, you are in control of how much bang you get for your buck. The more you go to class, the more cost effective Bikram yoga can be (unlike Soul Cycle, where the more classes you attend, the more broke you become).
Lastly, one of the most appealing aspects of this practice is its emphasis on progression and growth. Unlike other workouts, the more Bikram yoga you endure, the better off you are. For instance, running too much inevitably leads to shin splints and other undesired health implications, whereas yoga heals and refurbishes the body.
Although Bikram Yoga may seem intimidating or scary, I assure you this practice is worth pursuing. Moreover, each and every studio is nearly the same, no matter where you go. Bikram Yoga is a disciplined, peaceful practice that truly helps and heals. I implore you to sign up. And remember, your first class is almost always free.