I have dabbled with yoga in various forms off and on for the past 20+ years, often taking scores of months off between bouts of interest. My skill level is just beyond beginner, and there are many poses I cannot do due to a variety of physical maladies (1 bad knee (about 25 years), 1 really, really bad knee (43 years), a bothersome shoulder (only about 25 years), and, of course, and just having turned 62 in September
However, I return to yoga because I enjoy the discipline (never a real strong suite), I enjoy become limber again (in high school, I could not only kick an 8′ ceiling, but put both feet behind my head. Of course I did weigh 140 pounds versus this morning’s 187 (which is 33 less than my all-time high of about 6 years ago), I enjoy the discrete time periods, and there are elements of yoga that fit well with my Buddhist sensibilities.
Bikhram yoga is a severely restrictive form. It consists of 26 postures, each of which is done twice. About half are standing poses and half are on prone. The first time the pose is held for some period of time, maybe 45 seconds to a minute, the second somewhat less. The repetition are consecutive, that is, you do it, rest a bit, do it again. That “rest a bit” part? That’s important. Perhaps I failed to mention the room is heated and humidified. Usually 104-105 degrees, probably 40-50% humidity. The session lasts 90 minutes. The first water break is 20 minutes in. Bring your own, there’s no running out in the hall for a drink. There’s also almost no talking beyond the near constant stream of instruction, encouragement and motivation be the instructor. There are usually 15-30 others in the class which is held in a room on might mistake for a dance studio, wooden (probably bamboo) floor, mirrors floor to ceiling on front and one side wall, and heating duct that runs the length of the room. Everyone uses yoga mats with some type of towel on top. As you guess, there are many vendors selling stuff for the various types of hot yoga.
Not for the faint (or weak) of heart, those who are modest about there bodies (most of those yogis who wear the fancy duds need not bother with them here, nothing is really that sexy when the sweat is splashing about. My mat is oversized, since I’m about 6’3″ it’s nice to have a long mat, but even the nifty, environmentally appropriate towel that’s made of some recycled plastic stuff lacks something when the sweat drips and literally splashes up.
The first few classes are brutal, but it does get easier, or at least your body becomes acclimated. And it’s great to be able to touch my toes.