Every Sunday evening I take part in a Bikram Yoga class – I find it the perfect way to seal off a weekend, and a great way to set me up for the week ahead…
It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been practicing Bikram at Richmond’s studio (it was one of my New Year’s Resolutions) and at the moment I am in love with Bikram, but it is fair to say, that this is very much a love-hate relationship. It is a tough class, with amazing benefits, not only for the body, but also importantly, for the mind and soul. You can read all about the benefits of Bikram here.
One of the great things about this practice is that it suits all levels – with everyone taking it at their own pace – and each time I go, there are new people giving it a go (as part of an introductory 3 classes for £10). If you’re thinking about starting Bikram Yoga, you should do a bit of research beforehand as it is not like other yoga or exercise classes, and there are a few things that you should be prepared for.
Here are 5 tips that I wish I had been more aware of when I first began practicing earlier this year:
- Hydrating – 90 minutes in a heated studio (over 100 degrees plus) means you do need to hydrate well throughout the day before the class. You are not advised to drink during class, and if you do (in the standing series certainly), you will get told off! Too much water swilling around in your stomach will make you feel nauseous. And make sure you continue to rehydrate after class.
- Sweating – The high temperature means you do sweat. A lot. Embrace the sweating. Don’t try to wipe the sweat away (again, you will get told off!). The sweat is helping to cool your body down, so if you wipe it, you will upset the body’s natural temperature control. Wear suitable clothing (not cotton) that is breathable. In fact, you’re advised to wear as little as possible and don’t worry, everyone is very open-minded – no one judges anyone on the way you look.
- Breathing – The heat will make you feel uncomfortable and will take a while to get used to. The best advice is to master your breathing, as this will stop you from panicking. Unlike other sport where you might breathe in and out through your mouth, in Bikram, you should keep your mouth closed and should breathe through your nose only. This will help ensure you don’t panic and bolt out of the class.
- Posturing – There are 26 postures in Bikram and 2 breathing exercises (at the beginning and at the end). Know that each class will be different and you’ll find some postures easier in one class, than in another. If you find that you’re dizzy (quite common), there is no shame in sitting down. No one judges anyone else and all the teachers ask is that you are honest with your practice and you do as much as you can do on the day.
- Committing – Do ensure that you stay in the room for the full 90 minutes – even if you are lying still on your back in Savasana (considered one of the most important of the poses). It is better to stay in the room than to bolt out of the class if you are struggling, feeling dizzy or nauseous. And make sure you commit to the second and third class (of your introductory 3 for £10 offer) as you will find it gets easier once you get used to the heat and you’ll really see the benefits if you start committing to at least two classes a week.
Good luck and enjoy – Bikram really is an excellent all over practice for the mind, body and soul.
Have a great week!