Friday, 19 December 2014

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Moksha Yoga vs Bikram Yoga

You may or may not know this, but I've been doing Hot Yoga on and off for the past 5 years. Last summer I was part of the Moksha Yoga Energy Exchange Program, by volunteering there I was allowed to practice unlimitedly (they actually encourage you to do so in order to get more out of the pgoram).

Recently I realized that last year summer was probably a time when I felt the most fit and toned and realized that I wanted to get back into it. I'm extremely excited to buy a YogaShack (London, ON) membership when I am back in the new year, they have this phenomenal student deal - $99 for 3
months! But while or my winter break I wanted to stay in shape and to do yoga as much as I could.

Unfortunately I realized how expensive it would be to go frequently if I was paying $16 per class, or to buy a 10 class pass. So what I did was look to Groupon, they always seemed to have good deals! I saw a groupon for Moksha Yoga but one locationfirst-timers only - unfortunately I didn't fall into that group.
was too far while the local studio stated it was for

At the end I saw a $25 Groupon for a month of Bikram Yoga - I had heard about it, and thought that this would be a great opportunity to try it since I heard it was very different from Moksha. So I went for the first time and boy... it is very different.

I'm a fairly regular yogi and am definitely not knew to it; but Bikram was completely different from what I was used to. I honestly felt like I was going to pass out for the majority of it.

It is heated at 110 F (40C) with 40% humidity. 

I'm pretty sure Moksha keeps theirs at 95-103, but the atmosphere and the sheer heat studio completely overwhelmed me. It was fine when I first entered but a few moves in I was breathing extremely hard and for the rest of it I can honestly say I was scared of passing out. The moves themself were similar in nature, and I don't think they were harder but the environment made it much more exhausting.

Like other articles had mentioned, Bikram is a series of 26 movies and follows more direction. I was completely unused to it but the instructor was practically shouting out the instructions.

They're much less beginner-friendly.

If someone with absolutely no experience had gone in, they might have walked out hating it. The instructor said very early on that she would not be demonstrating the moves and that it was all verbal. She also makes no mention of what to do in cases (like mine) where you can not keep up. At Moksha, they give very friendly tips and tell you that it is okay to take Shavasana or to simply lie down if it is too hot for you, take a sip of water or leave the room. To be completely honest, I had thoughts of leaving but didn't know if that was acceptable practice as the instructor had mentioned nothing of it. It was a small class and I also felt quite uncomfortable stopping midway and taking my own pose.

Moksha has a nicer, rounded image. 

What I mean by this, is that they're very thorough about how they present themselves as a company. Their interior decor is really nice, everything is really clean and environmentally friendly and their website is really smooth and user friendly. Bikram, I believe their studio is older - they are doing renovations explains why their interior was no where as nice. However, I noticed that their website was extremely dated and did not look anywhere as professional.

The Class Itself

Like I mentioned earlier, the class is carried out much differently. Not only is it much more hot on the inside, but it is 30 minutes longer. Every class is typically 90 min whereas Moksha's are usually around 1h (60 min).

I was also extremely surprised when all the lights were turned on at the start of class, it was very bright. I had been accustomed to Moksha's dimly lit studios.

They start of with a breathing exercise which I didn't find very pleasant. You start with your knuckles at your chin and bring your elbows up 'as high as you can' before breathing out and bending your head back. I generally don't really like a lot of head bending exercises or exercises which require you to tense/support with your neck.

After the breathing exercise they repeat every pose twice. So for moves that focus on one side of the body, they are done a total of 4 times: Left, Right, Left, Right. I actually didn't really enjoy this part either.

There are no chaturangas! I actually really like these flows, I feel as though it helps in building strength and really missed this component. I found that the poses seem to focus a lot more on stretching and balance; Moksha classes leave me feeling stronger.

Overall, when I leave Moksha classes I usually feel a sense of calm, relief and peace. It leaves me mentally rested while feeling as though I have gone through a good work out. With Bikram Yoga I felt pretty overwhelmed as I left the studio. For 75% of the class I was uncomfortable and could only focus on the fact that my skin felt as though it was on fire. I felt more stretched and flexible, but besides feeling the nice cool air on my skin afterwards, I didn't feel as though my body had exercised and did not feel any stronger. Since there are only 26 moves the focus is a lot more limited, there is a lot less core work.

Bikram Yoga is a lot more intense. The moves may not be necessarily harder but the environment itself makes it much more difficult to focus on the practice. 

Although I did not enjoy it very much, I might have to go back to make use of the Groupon. Hopefully my body adjusts to it better! I'll be checking out a new location, and seeing what a bigger class feels like.



Have you done yoga before? Did you do the regular form or did you do Hot Yoga (if yes, which type do you prefer or practice??)

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