George Clooney does it. Daniel Craig, too. Yet Bikram yoga (named after founder Bikram Choudhury) is not just another celebrity fad. Pro athletes like New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards and others have been doing it for years.
“It’s the most male-friendly style of yoga,” says Jen Lobo, co-founder of Bikram Yoga NYC in Manhattan. “Guys embrace the challenge. They’re not just sitting around ohming and chanting. It’s a hard workout.”
Ready to heat up your routine? Here’s a quick primer.
What it Is
Bikram focuses more on the physical aspect of yoga rather than the meditative, according to Lobo. It’s done in a heated room for safe stretching and for detoxifying your body. Classes run through the same 26 poses and stretches, no matter where you take them. “You could be traveling to London on business, walk into a studio, and know exactly what you’re going to get,” Lobo says.
Expect to sweat—a lot. You’re doing 90 minutes of training in a studio that’s 105 degrees, with around 40% humidity. “It sounds super hot, but it’s actually not that much warmer than our body heat,” Lobo says. “A sauna can get up to 140 degrees.”
You mean, aside from being in a room full of hot, sweaty, and flexible half-naked women? Okay, Bikram works every muscle, tendon, ligament, and joint, so it can help you avoid injury. Plus, there’s major weight loss.
“I’ve seen guys who’ve come in twice a week, and two months later, they’ve lost 30 pounds,” Lobo says. “You’re working your thyroid gland in a lot of the postures, which can help speed up your metabolism and balance blood-sugar levels.”
Other pluses to practicing Toe Stands and Tree Poses? Stress reduction, mental clarity, greater productivity, and more energy. It’s also a great way to combat jet lag—even road rage.
“By learning how to breathe and how to stay calm in strenuous situations, you can apply these techniques to everyday life,” she says.
What to Wear
As little as possible. Shorts and tank tops should suffice. Try not to eat two hours before class, but do drink lots of water before and throughout each session. Lobo recommends coconut water, since it contains natural electrolytes.
Plan to spend around 13 per session in most parts of the country.