From Bikram's website, the baseline costs:
US$6,600.00 -- Teacher Training Fee
US$3,900.00 -- Hotel Accommodation for each student on two students per room. (Single room US$8,000.00)
So, your baseline cost $10,500
Consider these costs which can vary:
- Airplane Ticket
- Airport transfers (taxi to hotel is $25, shuttle is $15...plus you may need them at home)
- Housesitting/pet care
- Home expenses that you pay/normal bills
- *Loss of income (consider, you won't be working, and factor that gap in)
- Re-acclimation time when you get home (I budgeted for a couple weeks to settle back into life)
Bottom line: $100/week or so for average expenses - here's my breakdown
$30 - Groceries (in my case...limes, cheese, crackers, nuts - note: I was not buying water/gatorade, etc. or meat)
$10 - Laundry (again, you can handwash, go to the uber-cheap laundromat for way less...but again, time was more important to me than a couple bucks)
$20ish - Room service - usually at least one night, and this was really only for a bowl of soup, though for the same, you can do the steak sandwich, ceasar salad, etc.)
$40 - Dinner out on the weekends/Poolside Snacks/Taxis - for me, being able to go out to a decent meal was really nice and getting out of the hotel was good for me. Poolside snacks were a happy indulgence, etc. There is a shuttle to the Mega/Wal-mart area, but if you prefer a cab or end up needing one, it's $5 each way.
Not included in this were my spa fees, which you can get a $150 punchcard and use the hot tub, steam room and sauna for a full day 10x ($15/visit). I would go and study dialogue, sleep in the sauna, and generally just chill there. Massages were $100ish, haircuts $30ish, and pedicures (very important to me!) $30ish. So this, or any other special 'care and feeding' of yourself (shopping, traveling, touristy stuff, etc.) would be additional. Keep in mind you are under duress, and you will find doing something nice for yourself can make a difference. I budgeted with this in mind, got a few massages and also canceled a few when I felt ok and didn't really need to spend the money.
The doctor's office charges about $150 for a visit, but if you need it, it's there for you and in the realm of medical costs, not that expensive. Just be aware of it and prepared - no one knows how their body will react. I had plenty of friends need IVs, some as late as the last Friday night who had no big issues until then! You just don't know, so don't be surprised, plan for it and likely you won't need it.
Phone calls/contact with home - there are so many options! Skype is great if you are in the princessa tower with internet connection via a cord (or, like Todd's comment you can set up a little wi-fi network for you and your floormates). In the main pyramid though, the internet wi-fi rolls on and off constantly and Skyping from there is a frustrating experience. Either way though, it's internet, and it works most/some of the time. Be sure to go now and sign up for the Fairmont President's Club to access free internet the whole stay! www.fairmont.com - if you forget, you can't do it once you're checked in (though, I know some who begged and it worked out). You or your person at home can get phone cards too, and in the end, I just ended up using my cell phone after making sure I had a the Mexico plan turned on. It was way more convenient, doesn't disturb your roommate, and let's you be mobile so you can go sit someplace pretty to chat. Reception was great, no issues there.
In terms of eating, Todd estimated room service to be around $20 - 30 a pop; you can get a giant pizza for that and save 1/2, etc. If more people go in on it, you can split up the service charge/tip which adds 20% on the top. On the cheaper approach, I knew folks who went and got loaves of bread, lunch meat, sliced cheese and mayo and made sandwiches for dinner (or, PB&Js, etc). The Los Angeles Cafe offers mediocre sandwiches and long lines, but at a much lower price point than room service, maybe $10 for dinner. Your big meal is after morning practice, and I found we all treated dinner, in most cases, more like 'lunch' in normal life.
Because I brought a lot of what I needed, I didn't find myself spending wads of cash on daily items or anything like that. When I got sick, I did load up on Pedialyte, at a couple bucks each, stuff like that.
With all this said, I'd say $100/week overall is safe for most people, plus any extras (I'd plan $500 overall just to 'play with' - haircuts, medicine, touristy stuff, phone calls, etc.). Many did it for less, and I'm sure many spent more. It just depends on your values, your needs and your means. So, in addition to the costs to sign up, airfare, taxis, I'd suggest $1400-$1500 for comfort and ease assuming you have fairly average tastes. You'll likely go home with money in your pocket. In contrast to that, the least I heard of was one person with $400 total - he ran out of money three days before it was time to go home. Throughout, he generally just let people know his budget was wicked-tight, so a lot of us would take him our extras, foods we tried and didn't like, or just things we somehow got too much of - this worked out great for him and he was gracious for anything anyone passed on to him. With many friends by the end, everyone jumped in and took care of him the last few days. So, with that, you can obviously do it for way, way less. I'm speaking from a former-software-company-employee-37-year-old perspective; in contrast to a lot of 21-year-old actors and baristas, who had very different expectations and needs/values.
Have I qualified my thoughts enough?? :) Don't not go just because of spending money; my thought was this: I paid $10,500 off the top, a little bit more to actually help me enjoy the experience was going to be money well spent, and it was!
Those who were there along with me, chime in with your thoughts, or anything I completely forgot!