Yoga is an amazing way to get in shape physically, mentally and spiritually. There are tons of different types of yoga, but one of the most challenging is Bikram yoga.
This is not your typical hot yoga class, where you’re given water breaks whenever you want them and the class is finished in an hour or less. Bikram is hotter, longer and stricter than pretty much any other class out there. As a result, there are unique benefits to this kind of class that you simply can’t get anywhere else.
So get ready, because you’re about to experience something that’s truly out of this world!
1. Understand What You’re Getting Into
There are different types of hot yoga classes, and Bikram is more intense than some of the others. Hot yoga classes are not the same things as Bikram. They’re generally a little less strict, not as warm and not as long. Because of that, you may not always get the full benefits from just a hot yoga class. Before you go, look into it. If you’re at all concerned about the effects, ask your doctor and someone who’s been to these classes before. You won’t be scared off, just well prepared.
2. Bring Some Extras
For regular yoga classes you usually only bring your yoga mat and yourself. For Bikram, you’ll need those things, but you’ll also need at least two towels and a water bottle, preferably a large one. You’ll need at least one towel for your mat to catch the sweat, so you can keep your balance and not face plant during an arm balance. Most people also like a second towel to keep on their mat or to wipe their face off. The water, of course, is mandatory. Just bring it.
3. Get in a Good Snack Before and After
This type of practice is hard work, and you need to be in good shape to get through it. Just like eating is recommended before giving blood to minimize your chance of feeling sick, eating well before a Bikram class will also help prevent you from feeling woozy or lightheaded. Light snacks help keep your energy up and your blood sugar level. Stick to the good stuff like greek yogurt with some berries or some whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana.
4. Practice Good Yoga Etiquette
If you don’t know what yoga etiquette entails, it’s generally pretty simple. Always start by simply observing the other people in the class and try to emulate them. Since this is your first class, introduce yourself to the teacher. Many people don’t do this, but it’s really important. Also, try not to block other people’s views, avoid lotions and perfumes, and clean up your area when you’re done. Your fellow students will thank you.
5. Drink, Drink, Drink
Drink before, during and after this class. You will sweat. You will sweat from places you didn’t know you could sweat from. Losing all that fluid is totally normal, but it also means you’ll need to replenish it. Don’t drink so much before class that you feel all sloshy or need to take a pee break, as leaving the room during practice is discouraged, but up your intake like you would for giving blood.
During class, many teachers will request that you wait until you’re between poses to drink. Try and remember to take at least a sip each time. The high humidity can trick you into thinking you aren’t thirsty, but it’s better to take a sip anyway.
After class is the most important time to imbibe. You should up your water intake for the rest of the day, too. If you’re not looking to lose water weight, it’s also a good idea to grab a sports drink or some coconut water and replenish your electrolytes.
6. Dress for the Occasion
Baggy clothes, jeans and any kind of warm clothing is not what you want to wear to any yoga class, but especially a Bikram class. Most of the time, you’ll be fine if you simply wear normal yoga clothes. However, because of the heat and humidity, there are plenty of men who choose to go shirtless and women you practice in sports bras and tiny shorts. Don’t be surprised if you see some coming in and undressing. Now is not a time for modesty. It’s a time to challenge your body.
7. Listen to Your Body
Because Bikram is so strict, you might have some trouble in the class. At no point should you be afraid to stop and rest. Too many people try to push through, but you need to stay connected to your body. Also keep in mind that this class may push you to your limits as far as dehydration is concerned. Becoming dehydrated during exercise can increase your likelihood of injury and heat illness, so pay attention to yourself.
8. Listen to the Class
Pay attention! There are many teachers who will direct the class vocally but won’t do the poses with you. If you’re having trouble, watch the other students. Some of them will probably be pretty decent at it. Another good idea is to check out the Bikram sequence online prior to your class. Bikram classes all follow the same 26 posture series.
9. Take Time to Come Back to Earth
There is no denying that Bikram is an intense experience. You will probably need some time to adjust to reality afterward. Some people come out of the class flying high on cloud nine, and others come out feeling like they need a nine-day nap! Both of those are normal. The absolute best thing you can do is simply stop, drink some water, have a snack and not leave the gym until you feel a little more normal – especially if you’re driving.
10. Come With No Expectations
Do not expect yourself to perform well. Do not assume you will be horrible at it. Do not presume to know what will happen before anything happens at all. Your only goals are to go and learn. Leave everything else and you will be much happier for it.
Bikram is intense. It’s OK if you didn’t enjoy the first class or even the first month of classes. It takes time for your body to adjust. If you keep going, keep learning and keep adjusting, you’ll come to love Bikram. And if it’s not for you that’s cool, too! Be happy you challenged your body to something new!