Coconut Water, Cucumber & Mint Drink -and my return to Bikram Yoga

I made this amazingly refreshing drink after Bikram yoga tonight -blended coconut water, cucumber and fresh mint leaves.  A little sip of summer on this freezing, dark November night!  I outlined the benefits (and deliciousness!) of coconut water in my post on coconut water high protein smoothies -you can read it here.  BIkram yoga is like doing yoga in a sauna so rehydration afterwards is really important -hence my coconut water!
I went to Bikram yoga tonight for the first time in over a year.  I first went about five years ago and always really enjoyed it.  I used to go now and then on a weekend but never developed a steady, frequent practice as I found it very time consuming to fit in to my usual schedule on top of work and everything else.  It is also a lot more expensive than a regular yoga class.  It became something I occasionally went to when I wanted a really good work out, rather than my more regular forms of exercise -yoga, pilates and running.  I recently saw a deal offering 8 Bikram yoga classes for €29!  At less than €4 a class, compared to the usual €18 I snapped it up immediately and was really looking forward to getting back in to it.
Each class lasts ninety minutes, and is practised in a room of 40 degrees celcius, with 40% humidity.  It’s founder Bikram Choudhury claims that the increased room temperature improves physical performance in the body as blood vessles dilate and tissues expand -improving blood flow and the distribution of oxygen throughout the body.  Choudhury also claims that blood circulation is greatly enhanced due to the extension and compression stimulated by the postures which are said to work together to deliver fresh oxygen to every joint, muscle, and organ within the body.  He claims that the individual postures either stretch or compress a certain part of the body which temporarily cuts off circulation.   This restriction of circulation causes the heart to pump more fresh blood in reaction to the shortage, which is called extension. When the posture is finished, he claims that the new oxygenated blood rejuvenates the compressed arteries.  Choudhury states that the volume change and influx of this fresh blood releases infection, bacteria, and toxins from the body.  Regardless of whether these claims are accurate or not, it’s certainly an energising comprehensive work out for your whole body.
The 26 postures and 2 pranayama breathing techniques are derived from traditional hatha yoga practice, so I am familiar with practising all of them in a regular temperature environment.  The heat certainly helps me to get deeper in to some of the poses compared to a regular yoga class but I am mindful of not over stretching my body due to the hot environment as I am concerned that this could do damage.
I like how the class never changes, the series of postures are set and you can expect the same sequence and pace each time you go, which I find very meditative.  However, for this reason I prefer to only go occasionally, as I would rather a more varied practice overall.  I also like how the class is suitable for all levels at the same time, whether you have been practising it for years, or if it is your first time and your fitness levels are low.  The only difference is how deep you go in to the posture but regardless of your level, everyone gets the same benefit just by doing the pose at whatever level they are able to.  This can be said for all forms of yoga but it is something I particularly enjoy observing in bikram yoga as many people go to increase their general fitness rather than due to an interest in yoga -so there is a range of yoga lovers, fitness fanatics and those completely new to exercising.  I do think that a more intimate class or greater attention by the instructor to individuals would be better as there is little individual attention paid to posture, alignment or personal body weaknesses, which could lead to poor practice or injury in those new to the postures.
I certainly don’t like the fact that Choudhury is so precious and controlling about the practice of Bikram yoga, having copyrighted it in to a multi million dollar business.  This is not really synonymous with the open, accessible and spiritual nature of yoga.   But as a personal practice of fitness, I absolutely love it.  There are many yoga studios who also practice hot yoga, with similar benefits and challenge, though without adhering to the rigid, copy righted format which he created.  I’d like to try these out also as the hot yoga element really appeals to me.
While I wouldn’t replace my regular hatha and ashtanga yoga practice with bikram yoga,  I really enjoy it as an occasional power work out.  I feel so many benefits from it as it I get the amazing challenge of fast paced flowing yoga combined with a powerful full body work out and stretch, as well as the use of mental discipline, and a bonus 90 minute sauna session which is great for your skin!  Even compared to running, I have never experienced more natural endorphins following exercise compared to the rush of lying down in the final asana of bikram yoga, your heart pumping, knowing that you have worked hard for ninety minutes and given your body an amazing challenge and benefit.  All the better if you are looking forward to a coconut water, cucumber and mint drink afterwards!!

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2 thoughts on “Coconut Water, Cucumber & Mint Drink -and my return to Bikram Yoga

    • Hello, thanks very much for the recommendation! I hadn’t heard of it but just looked it up and sounds very interesting, will give it a try!
      Thank you :-)

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