So, four years after being given a 30-day pass as a birthday present, I finally got round to trying out a Bikram yoga class (there’s no need to feel inadequate – I’m not always this organised.)

I’ve been practising yoga regularly for the last three years and have tried various styles ­– iyengar, sivananda, satyananda, kundalini and vinyasa – but until recently had yet to give Bikram (or hot yoga) a shot.

I was put off by the fact that the Bikram sequence of postures – or asanas – is copyrighted (although news reports suggest this copyright claim is invalid), as this seemed contrary to the spirit of yoga. Plus the classes are relatively expensive, once the 30-day pass has expired, and there is no emphasis on the meditative or spiritual dimensions of yoga, which I really value.

I was, however, drawn to the prospect of an intensive workout that would help me to lose weight fast in readiness for an upcoming beach holiday.

In this respect, I wasn’t disappointed. Within moments of entering the room heated to 40.6 centigrade, sweat was cascading down my forehead and back – and all I’d done was put my yoga mat on the floor.

In that heat, I found the first 20 minutes of the 90-minute class oppressive and had to stand still on a few occasions as I was starting to feel seriously dizzy. The poses are repeated several times in quick succession and are immediately followed by another pose. There is virtually no chance to rest in the first half of the class, although the asanas are interspersed by short periods of lying down in corpse pose (or savasana) in the second half.

Once I’d got used to the heat, the dim lighting and the teacher barking out rapid-fire instructions over a microphone, I started to quite enjoy the class. I found I could do most of the poses without too much discomfort (whereas if I had been a newcomer to yoga, I would have struggled both to get into the poses and to understand what the poses involved). Before I knew it, the hour and a half session was drawing to a close.

Overall, I came away feeling that my body had had a good workout. But I really disliked the hyper-energetic, almost hectoring tone of the teacher and the obviously commercial edge to the whole Bikram experience. I missed the chanting and meditation you get with other kinds of yoga, though I imagine many people prefer Bikram yoga for that very reason.

People say that an advantage of doing yoga in high temperatures is that it reduces the risk of injury. But I fear that doing poses in such quick succession and with such little input from the teacher (who spends almost the entire class on a small wooden bench at the front of the room) increases the likelihood of getting injured,  especially if you have a tendency to be over-flexible (as I do).

After the class, while still on a high from my workout, I had lunch with a friend and touted the weight-shedding properties of a Bikram yoga class.

“Would you lose more weight than if you just went for a run?” she asked.

Well, probably a bit more – but in my opinion not enough to justify the hefty prices Bikram studios charge. If you are injured and can’t run, however, I can see Bikram being a great alternative.

When it comes to flexibility and strength-building, I can’t see that Bikram yoga has a big advantage over other styles. Like I said, I was able to do most of the poses fairly easily, despite never having done Bikram before.

So if you’re looking for a high-octane, yoga-inspired exercise class that features Guantanamo-like discipline in a chi-chi setting, then Bikram is for you. But if you’re seeking to develop mindfulness, strength and flexibility without breaking the bank, I recommend you go for an iyengar, hatha, kundalini or vinyasa yoga class instead.

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