When I was offered the chance to try Bikram Yoga, I was lulled into a false sense of security. After all, yoga is a gentle and relaxing exercise isn’t it?

Not so the Bikram variety – billed as the ‘most exciting, challenging and effective yoga class in the world’. (Notice the how they tuck the word ‘challenging’ between those two other superlatives.)

Another term for it is Hot Yoga, as it’s done in 40 degree heat. The purpose of this is twofold: firstly, it makes stretching safer and secondly, when you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.

Each session lasts 90 minutes and takes you through 26 postures. These work every part of the body, giving the internal organs, veins, ligaments and muscles everything they need to maintain optimum health and maximum function. George Clooney, Daniel Craig and Jenifer Aniston take part, as do Will Smith, the Beckhams and more famous sportspeople and athletes than you can shake a leotard at.

And as Bikram Yoga Bournemouth have discovered, there’s a growing legion of local fans who find it’s the best thing to help everything from bad backs to weight loss. It helps avoid injury, can help speed up your metabolism and balance blood-sugar levels. Other plus-points include stress reduction, mental clarity and more energy.

The set-up on Christchurch Road is a welcoming one. They are open seven days a week, and on some days, run five classes a day. Huge, modern facilities include a tea and juice lounge.

If you’d like to try Bikram, but harbour a little apprehension, the team there are such a friendly and accommodating bunch, you’re immediately put at ease. Calm words of encouragement are offered. If you feel dizzy, light-headed or nauseated, for example, it’s nothing to feel foolish about, it’s totally normal.

That said, I was relieved when a few other participants had to take time out quietly on their mats during the sweltering, gruelling session.

The heat in the studio took some getting used to. I have never sweated so much in my life, and I was alarmed at how much fluid was gushing out of my fellow Bikramers. Needless to say, yoga mats, towels and water are obligatory – all of which can be hired on site.

I was advised not to eat one to two hours beforehand and to make sure I was hydrated when I went to class (I dutifully chugged water throughout the day). Leave all belongings (including socks) at the door and make sure your clothes are comfortable and stretchy, such as shorts and a vest top for women, and shorts and an optional t-shirt for men.

At the end of the session, I felt strangely euphoric. It was probably the hardest thing I’d ever done physically. I’d twisted myself in knots, I’d nearly fainted, but I’d stayed in the room. (Afterward I was told that staying in the room on your first session is the hardest thing).

But the mind and body are strange things, as the next day, I felt like I wanted to get into that hot sweaty room and do it all over again.

As its founder, Bikram Choudhury, once said: “It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick to start once again from scratch...”

  • bikramyogabournemouth.com