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12 Tips for Bikram Yoga

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I’m by no means an expert on Bikram yoga. I only started being able to do the whole routine all the way through without sitting down on the floor trying not to vomit a week or so ago.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m just less fit than the other women there, but I tend to be affected by the conditions in the room more than most people. I’ve nearly finished my 20 session card and I still am barely better than a newbie. BUT, this means that I am great at finding ways to make the uncomfortable situation slightly less so. Every session I go to there is at least one new person, and I wish that I could sit them down and tell them all I know about how to make that hour and a half suck less.

Instead, I’ve compiled a list of what I have learnt helps during classes. If you happen to be a Bikram-er then please do add your own tips in the comments!

Dress the part.

You will SWEAT like never before. Try to wear as little as you are comfortable with, and have your armpits and back as free as you can. Some girls wear bikinis to class. Some wear hot pants and sports bras. I have two outfits – grey soft yoga pants that are nice and flattering but come down to the ankles, and baggier black sports trousers that are shorter. I wear the former when I feel good about my body and the latter when I do not. Added to this are a load of tank tops. I don’t like to shower afterwards with the others because, you know, communal nakedness. So I throw an old baggy jumper over my sports bra and trousers and go home.

Take your makeup off.

Imagine you are taking a shower, because that will be your moisture level at the end of it. You don’t need makeup.

Get equipped.

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For your first few goes you don’t need all of this, but once you know you’re going to be a Bikram Babe/Dude-babe, you should get the whole set –

Big bottle of water (necessary)

Yoga matt (your studio may rent them to you)

A long towel with rubber blobs on the other side to stop it moving about (this covers your matt. I got mine Рshown above Р from Amazon, but you can use a bath towel until then)

A smaller towel for your face/to help with certain poses

Watch your food intake.

This is my biggest bit of advice. If you eat too much at lunch, you will feel terrible during yoga. I usually go for a soup and salad on yoga days. I ate too much before going out to yoga the other night; I had a small bowl of vegetarian meat balls for protein, but I actually felt them coming back for a reunion later. Try some fruit or veg + hummus no less than an hour and a half before your class.

Use your water wisely.

Drink a bottle of water an hour before the class and you should be fine. Only take in water when the teacher says so – except for the one just before the triangle pose, because it really makes you feel weird when there’s water sloshing about inside of you. You need to keep taking in water, but try to limit it a little and not drink too much otherwise it’ll just end up making you feel much, much worse.

Position yourself.

Check out the room and work out the best place to stand. In our room there are two heaters on the ceiling – it’s not good to stand right under these. They also have horrible lights, except for the square skylight. I make sure to stand under the skylight as the normal lights bug me.

Don’t push yourself too far.

This is another big tip which should be common sense. The teacher will tell you that it’s ok if you feel sick or dizzy. Don’t listen to them. You know your own body and when it’s had enough and needs to sit out a move then do so. Don’t let peer pressure force you to hurt yourself.

Don’t leave the room.

It is best to stay in the room and stay sitting down for a bit – if you leave the room then no one can check if you are ok. For your own safety stay in the sight of the teacher.

If your knees wobble, don’t extend.

There are a few poses that ask for you to stand on one leg and then do something fancy with the other leg. Until your base leg stops wobbling, don’t attempt the fancy stuff. Just stand there holding your foot until you can balance enough.

Stop looking at other people.

The second you do, you’ll wobble and fall. I know, it happens every time.

Squeeze your bum.

One of the best bits of advice that was given to me is that if you squeeze your bum, you will be able to balance a lot easier. It works…until I forget to squeeze my bum.

Make sure to take something in after.

I always have a pick-me-up, or reward, waiting for me at the end of the class. Mostly, it’s these little fruit bars from DM or a coconut water. It’s pretty important to refuel afterwards.

SO that’s my list! Got anything to add? Pop it in the comments!

Happy Thursday!

Hot Yoga

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So for a month or so I’ve been going to a thing called “hot yoga” (otherwise known as Bikram yoga) with a girlfriend of mine. She’s been doing it for a while and finally¬†persuaded me to go along with her. Bikram yoga is like regular yoga, only in 40c heat and 40% humidity. And also, where in normal yoga the routine changes each time depending on the students, Bikram yoga uses the same 90 min set every time.

If it sounds scary, that’s because it is scary. The first time I went, the teacher told me that if I feel dizzy, like a want to vomit or black out, I’m doing it right.

So why am I doing it??

In actuality it’s not that bad. Often, going into the pose I feel really ill but once I’m there and I’m breathing as the teacher is telling me to, I feel stable and not like I’m going to throw up. And I sweat. Everyone sweats. You have to bring a full towel to cover your yoga mat because you will sweat so much it’ll be as wet as if you’ve dunked it into a swimming pool by the time you’ve finished.

I went for the first time because I was looking at lots of photos of yoga people on Tumblr and I decided I wanted to be cool like them. I am ridiculously influenced by things I see around me. I’ve just finished painting my nails green after seeing a girl at work with green nails and deciding I want green nails too. I made the boyfriend a strawberry – avocado – spinach sandwich the other day because I saw a photo of it online and decided I wanted one. And so with yoga, I decided I wanted to be the people in the photos and so I joined my friend in her class.

I’m going to be completely honest here and say that while mental pictures of me being cool and flexible were what brought me to Bikram yoga, it is the changes to my body that keep me going. Sure, it’s water weight. But you burn about 1000 calories each class, and I do see a difference the morning after every session. My legs look amazing. So amazing I just go out wearing knee high socks and I don’t even care. I’m 26, I go to the gym often, I eat well and now I have this one thing that boosts my confidence and my legs look amazing and I don’t even care if I’m not “meant” to wear knee high socks.

The other reason why I keep going back is that I have pretty weak knees and the heat in the room makes the exercises a lot kinder to my joints. I’m a lot more flexible in the hot room, and my knees aren’t nagging me nearly as much any more. I feel they are much stronger which is great.

The downside is that it IS super scary. Being told that wanting to pass out is normal is usually a sign that you should get the hell out of there. I still can’t do the whole routine through. There’s this pose called the camel pose which looks simple but comes towards the end of the routine and I can’t even start to bend back – I just want to vomit. The best I can do it kneel “Japanese style” and wish for the day that my Bikram sea sickness goes away.

The last scary part is that the routine and the teachers push you. If you clicked on the camel pose video above you’d have heard the teacher say “it’s supposed to hurt”. Things like that are said often. They want you to push yourself beyond your boundaries and stretch that little bit more but often it’s said in ways that sound like they don’t have your health as their priority. However, when doing this kind of yoga you really need to just listen to your body – you know your limits – and use your common sense.

HERE is a nice video showing each of the poses in the routine. It’s pretty positive. But if you search you can find lots of negative things about the yoga and its founder. Personally, Bikram yoga makes me feel better about myself and as long as I look after myself, I don’t see it having a negative impact on me.

:)
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