Bikram yoga

Also called hot yoga, Bikram is practiced in a humid room cranked up to between 100 and 110F. There are 26 poses, done at varying paces depending on the instructor. Expect copious sweat, and don't forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Bikram Yoga
(106 Montague St between Henry and Hicks Sts, second floor, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn; 718-797-2100, * (121 Fulton St between Nassau and Williams Sts, third floor; 212-964-6411). Single class $19, packages available.
Type of yoga offered: Bikram
Name of class: Bikram Yoga
Length: 90 minutes
What to expect: The teacher leads the class through the 26 Bikram poses (almost all of them are done twice, and none are held for very long) in a heated studio, delivering clear, detailed instructions at a rapid-fire pace and cheering us on through the extra-tough parts.
Level: Yoga newbies can do it.
The verdict: Bikram feels more like boot camp in a sauna than the kind of yoga I’m familiar with (no chanting? no speeches on spirituality? wait, you’re telling me this is supposed to hurt my joints?), and it’s hard to tell if I actually worked hard, or if I was spent simply from enduring that heat. Still, this class was surprisingly manageable, thanks to the way in which the instructor described every component of each posture in quick, confident words, and encouraged me to sit down whenever I was overwhelmed or light-headed. I’m a little vague on the “medical benefits” she repeatedly assured us we were reaping; are they worth putting up with the overpowering mildew smell, presumably from the studio’s perspiration-drenched carpet?—Megan Gendell

Bikram Yoga Lower East Side
(172 Allen St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, second floor; 212-353-8859, Single class $20, packages available.
Type of yoga offered: Bikram
Name of class: Bikram Yoga
What to expect: Two run-throughs of the standard 26 poses
Level: Yoga newbies can do it.
The verdict: Novices here are invited to push themselves only as far as they want—which might mean just watching (and getting accustomed to the crazy Bikram heat). But don’t look too closely (or do): The class is packed with hipster hotties flaunting porn-star bods, all shiny with sweat. Most important: five showers in the changing rooms.—Roberto De Luna

Bikram Yoga NYC
(Various locations; Single class $23, packages available.
Type of yoga: Bikram
Name of class: Bikram
Length: 90 minutes
What to expect: 26 poses, each repeated twice, held for 60 to 90 seconds. The room is 100 degrees and humid.
Level: Yoga newbies can do it.
The verdict: Bikram yoga is said to be best for competitive people, because the point is to be in an uncomfortable, challenging environment. That acknowledged, the heat wasn’t too hard to get used to. In fact, it made the stretching opportunities wonderful. Our Friday afternoon class was fairly crowded—about 15 people, all raining sweat. Our instructor remembered all our names and would call out if one of us was doing well (see the above note about competition). Still, it was a very long hour and a half, and the savasana (resting pose) was woefully short.—Emily Jacobson

Bikram Yoga Park Slope
(289 Flatbush Ave between Prospect and St. Marks Pls, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-399-3369, Single class $20, packages available.
Type of yoga offered: Bikram Yoga
Name of class: Bikram Yoga
Length: 90 minutes
What to expect: Straight-up Bikram—you’ll do all the standard poses a few times each. The pace is fairly rapid, and while the teacher explains verbally what to do, she doesn’t come around and correct your form (maybe she’s a sweatphobe?). No chanting here, just lots of breathing exercises.
Level: Some experience helps.
The verdict: Free-spirited yogis will dig this place’s hippie vibe, diverse crowd and liberal dress code (all shapes and sizes get half naked). But ack, it’s carpeted, and you can smell the cumulative effects of sweaty bodies on absorbent rugs. The class itself is tough; the temp gets cranked up to a challenging 104F—and you can find just as much difficult fun elsewhere without the stench.—Corinne Mohr

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