In the 1970s Bikram Choudhury took the traditional practice of hatha yoga, modified it, and repackaged it as a new fitness franchise. All Bikram classes are the same, and the practitioners perform the same combination of 26 postures and two breathing exercises within 90 minutes every single time.
The poses can’t just be performed in your living room though.
Bikram must be performed in a 105-degree room with 40% humidity to allow the body to stretch, detoxify, relieve stress, tone, and heal chronic pain.
Bikram yoga sounds painful, but it can be highly invigorating.
Here are five things you need to know before you head to your first Bikram yoga class.
It’s Getting Hot in There
Stepping into a sauna is often an enjoyable experience, but you’re not usually exercising in it. Bikram yoga is practiced in a room so warm it feels like a sauna, and the hardest part as a first timer is going to be staying the sauna while practicing a 90 minute yoga sequence. When you start to feel suffocated, sit, and breathe deeply through your nose. You can usually recover in under 2 minutes.
Your Bikram yoga teachers merely guide you
Unlike traditional yoga classes, the instructors in Bikram won’t do the moves alongside you. Bikram instructors are trained to talk you through the flow as part of a moving meditation. The dialogue between the teacher and the student is almost identical regardless of where you practice; Bikram yoga instructors are working off a script to ensure your practice is consistent every time you go.
Get enough H20
We all know drinking water is important, but it is especially important to be hydrated before Bikram yoga. If you drink enough water before Bikram yoga, you’ll have an easier time staying hydrated during the practice. Aim to drink 2.5 liters during the day before you get to the yoga studio and avoid chugging right before class. Having a lot of water in your stomach during yoga can lead to cramping. Rehydrate after class with coconut water, and try to drink another liter of water after class.
It is very important to arrive early to Bikram yoga. This gives you time to settle in, chat a bit with the instructor, get your mat set up, and adjust to the heat and humidity. You need to give your body time to adjust to the environment.
It can be hard to stay positive when you have sweat pouring into your eyes and you’re feeling exhausted, but it’s important to remain upbeat. Everybody in class is feeding off each other’s energy. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and try to have a good time.