A few beginner facts about Bikram Yoga

Here’s a short post on one of my all-time favourite forms of yoga, one you should most definitely try out: bikram yoga, which you may have heard of as Hot Yoga. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to make this practice a regular part of my workout routine (mainly because it isn’t available where I live) but I would really love to have the chance someday. As it is, I go when I can – and love it every time!

Three facts about Bikram Yoga:

  • Created by Bikram Choudhury, this form of yoga is based on traditional hatha yoga poses.
  • All bikram yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of a series of 26 postures including two breathing exercises.
  • Perhaps one of the best known facts about this practice: bikram yoga is practiced in a room heated to 40° Celcius (104°F)!

Practicing yoga in such intense heat has a number of beneficial effects, according to studies: the main noticeable effects are an increase in flexibility and strength, if practiced regularly. I notice an increase in my flexibility after every session, and personally also feel like my mind is somehow clearer. It’s a great way to sweat out the negative vibes of the week and start fresh!

Now, I love going to Bikram yoga sessions, but don’t get me wrong, it is not easy: in such high heat, breathing gets a bit harder, and you really have to make an effort to keep breathing properly (in through the nose, out through the mouth). Also, there is a definite price issue: one stand-alone session costs 25€ in Paris, 20€ in Bordeaux and £20 in London. At that rate, it’s not an exercise you can easily afford. Of course, if you can go regularly, there are monthly subscription rates which are definitely more affordable – and can really be worth your while if you go more than once a week!

Here are a few things to remember if you’re planning on trying this sport out:

– First, be early: this can help you make sure you can get a good spot on the room, and that you have time to get accustomed to the heat before class starts.

– Second, HYDRATE: it’s going to get hot and you’re going to be sweating A LOT. You’ll need to hydrate during the session, so take a 1L water bottle with you.

– Third, bring the right clothes: as I’ve said, it’s going to get hot. Avoid wearing long trousers if possible and go for light, airy tops, or if you’re comfortable that way, just a good sports bra. Whatever you wear you’ll probably soak through anyway 😉

– Fourth, don’t push it: when doing the poses, do as much as you can, but don’t push yourself too far, too fast. Chances are, if you’re a beginner, you won’t be able to do the full version of every pose, and that’s ok. Focus on doing the simple version perfectly and move forward next time. Discomfort is to be expected, but if you feel any sharp pain, pull back from it a little bit.

– Not to be forgotten: avoid having a big meal beforehand. You don’t want to feel to heavy during this class. Have a light meal or snack two hours before the class and make sure to drink some water – but definitely avoid the full English breakfast!

– Most importantly, breathe! This really is key to making it through your first class. And if you do, not only will you have the best shower of your life afterwards (after being that hot and sweating that much, can you even start to imagine what a cool shower feels like?) but you will definitely want to try it again!

If you’re excited to try this, find a studio near you…then tell me what your experience was like!

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