I used to do Bikram yoga weekly when I was training for marathons. After more than a year off, I’ve started to go again as I feel like my body’s really needing it, to handle all the lifting and running and climbing I do.
Bikram is done in a room that’s around 40°C and 50% humidity. Yes, you will sweat a lot. Yes, other people will sweat a lot. No, it doesn’t smell like B.O. in the room.
There are only 26 poses but each pose it done twice and the class lasts 90 minutes. 90 minutes in a 40°C heat can be quite a challenge if you’re not prepared. Here’s are my tips on avoiding passing out:
- Drink a lot of water beforehand – regularly during the day if you’re going in the evening, and then 500-700ml an hour before. If you go in the morning, drink 500-700ml before you go.
- Arrive 15 minutes early, just lie on your mat and get used to the heat in the room.
- Breathe slowly through your nose (unless indicated otherwise for a couple of poses) and as deep as possible. As soon as you start panting or hold your breath, you’re toast.
- Wear as little or as much as you feel comfortable in. If you wear short loose shorts though, please wear underwear as well.
- Pick a spot in the mirror and stare, do not look around. If you’re a lady, I highly recommend these Nike bras that I have that have the logo straight in the middle of the chest – it’s perfectly bright and perfectly located to stare at.
If you’re a guy I guess you could draw a cross on your chest with a Sharpie. Or stare at your belly button, although that’s a little bit too low for a perfect staring spot.
- If you feel light headed, sit down, breathe deeply and let a pose pass you by. No one’s going to think you’re weak. We’ve all been there.
- Only push yourself as much as your body wants you to. It’s not a competition, no one cares about how flexible YOU are. Some days you can go deeper, some days not. Respect and listen to your body.
- Drink in between poses if you need to but not too much at a time, 750ml – 1l should last you 90 minutes.
- Keep drinking water, or better yet – coconut water – after class.
- Mostly remember point 5 – if you concentrate on one spot, don’t look around and focus on breathing, you will be fine.
Remember to pack two towels – one for your mat to do your practice on and another one for your shower afterwards. Remember also to NOT wear skinny jeans to Bikram – you will continue to sweat a bit even after you have a shower and you will never ever get into those jeans.
Once you’re out the door and in fresh air, you will feel like a brand new person – supple, relaxed AND so clean.