No, Bikram isn't an Indian dude–it's a style of yoga that will challenge you both mentally and physically.  

I went to my first class Monday night at Bikram Yoga @ The Palisades (Palisades Park). I was fearful most about the heat–would I be able to take it? They heat the room to around 105 degrees with 40% humidity. I thought I would wilt like a flower (and I don't mean into a pretty Lotus pose!). I am also not a Yoga person–I've done Pilates before but yoga just never clicked with me. 

Well, I'm always up for new experiences so this week I'll be trying their one week trial of unlimited classes for $25 (most Bikram studios seem to have this deal). I arrived with a friend early to fill out paperwork and get situated. When I first walked in the room I was surprised by the heat but it wasn't unbearable. Then, the woman briefing us said that we could not leave the room during the 90 minutes. I immediately started to feel claustrophobic–she had laid down the gauntlet. My chance to escape was now.  

But it was too late…the class started and we were guided into some easy breathing exercises. Ok, not too bad. Then, there were some challenging standing poses. I have terrible balance so I tried to hide the fact that I was as wobbly as a tree in a storm. The instructor has a firm but encouraging dialogue with the class–watching us and correcting our form. On both sides of the room were bendy assistants who were truly amazing to watch. It was like watching those contortionists at the circus. I was in awe–which is the point, I guess–and inspired to reach that level of strength and flexibility.

 Just when I felt like I couldn't take the heat anymore, we were on our backs and relaxing into some savassanas. The instructor is very attentive to newcomers–though she probably just doesn't want vomit on her nice, clean carpeting. During some of the poses I felt my fingers tingle with the forced blood flow and for hours afterward my head felt like a balloon that might fly off my body. 

During class you are also covered in sweat–don't be shy because everyone else is too!–so wear light clothing. There are showers in the locker room and bring your own lock if you want to store your stuff. It feels great to wash away all the toxins from your body and my skin never felt more clean than after that shower!

I definitely think it will improve flexibility and strength. Whether it will help lose weight or gain muscle is yet to be determined. This was just my first time, after all. 

Bikram yoga @ the Palisades

536 Bergen Blvd, Palisades Park, NJ

201-592-1477; http://www.bikramyogapalisades.com

If you do visit, please put my name "Mira" or "MiraBest" as your referrer on the waiver sheet. Maybe if enough of us sign up we can get a group discount!