Those of you who follow me on my FB page knew that I’d been toying with the idea of taking a hot yoga (bikram yoga) class. Well last Friday I finally took the leap and went for it. I had done some reading online about what to expect and what NOT to do before, during, and after the class so by the time I found a studio I felt like I had a decent enough idea as to what I was getting myself into.
The night before the class I fretted a little bit about what to wear…a lot of the information I had gotten about the class suggested wearing form fitting clothing, sports bras, shorts, etc….because the room was going to be HOT. Like…105 degrees hot. So I chose a pair of shorts and a racerback running shirt, figuring the wicking power of the top would help and the shorts would help me stay cool. BUT like most women, last minute wardrobe change on the day of and I opted for a pair of capri tights that I usually wear to workout in. As hyped as I was about the class I had to realize that it’s still just a yoga class, and when I go do yoga, I dress comfortably. And I just didn’t feel comfy wearing those shorts.
The day of the class I took one of my 24oz water bottles and filled it with a tray of ice and added enough water to cover the remaining space. A friend told me to freeze a bottle of water, so I figured this would be the next best thing. I took a separate 20oz water bottle and started to actually freeze that one, but by the time I had to head to class it was only very partially frozen. I grabbed my yoga mat, and my Aquis towel* and was out the door.
*Note: The Aquis towel is a microfiber towel that is meant to be super absorbent and come in handy for folks with extra dense/thick hair. I usually will use these towels to dry my hair since I have dreadlocks, but since I knew I’d be sweating a lot in this class, I figured it might do me better than a regular towel. They’re very light and meant to me very absorbent. You can check them out here.
I arrived at the studio about 5 minutes or so before class and the owner of the studio (who was also the instructor) welcomed me to the studio, gave me a quick tour and gave me a heads up about the hot room itself. In the room there were several rows of white lights on the ceiling. These lights were where the heat itself came from, so he advised me to not stand under them as it would be hotter there. He also pointed out where the cooler spots in the room might be and advised me on where to stand. I was thankful for the tips and the instruction, especially as I stepped into the room.
Boy…it was HOT! Like so hot that it took me by surprise a little bit. Ever experience a super hot day where you just feel uncomfortable and just want to lie still? Yea…like that. It took me a few minutes to adjust, namely I had to find my breath again and once I did I was fine. Class began with the instructor leading us through some breathing exercises which helped me get my mind off the heat, and into my breathing. Then we moved into the poses.
If you’ve ever done hatha yoga, bikram yoga is basically that but in a heated room. The moves were not particularly complicated, and everyone moved at their own pace and did the moves at a depth that was comfortable to them. Throughout the class it was emphasized that the point is not to do all the poses or even do them deeply, but rather to do them correctly. The instructor was kinda awesome. He made his way around the class, paying attention to everyone’s form, guiding and coaching them through, adjusting their posture as needed. Very helpful. The first half of the class was all standing poses, then the second half moved to the floor. *sigh* Yes the floor…it felt so good to lay down in between poses, lol. I will say, that towards the end of class, I found that I was able to go deeper into my poses. Which was the point of the heat in bikram yoga…warm atmospheres warm up your muscles…and warm muscles allow for greater flexibility…greater flexibility means deeper stretching.
At the end of class we were allowed about 2 minutes to just lay in relaxation pose. You didn’t have to stay for it, but I did and would recommend that anyone who takes any kind of yoga class, stay for the calm down/meditation portion at the very end. I laid there and just let myself feel the heat and relax a little more. When I was ready, I got up and left the class. They had sugar free popsicles afterwards for those who wanted. SCORE!!
Yes, I was sweaty…throughout the class I sweat all over…there wasn’t a place that I didn’t sweat, lol. But that’s fine by me because I love a good sweat. I felt so very relaxed afterwards…it was just a good cleansing feeling! I plan on going back again, I would like to make this a weekly occurrence,
If you’re interested in giving Bikram Yoga a shot, I would offer you these quick tips:
- Drink water. Before class. During class. After class. You will need to stay hydrated
- Ice water will be your friend. Freeze water beforehand if you can. Bring more than one water bottle.
- Dress comfortably. You will be hot, so dress light. Avoid cotton. Try performance/wicking material.
- Double up on towels. Now, I only used my one Aquis towel and I was fine. But I noticed some folks had beach towels or bath towels that they used to lay on their mats to prevent them from slipping on sweat. Not a bad idea. So, towel for you…and towel for your mat.
- Focus inward. Don’t worry about what others are or are not doing. Focus on your individual practice, nothing else.
- Pay attention to your body. You need to stop? Stop, go into child’s pose. You feel faint? Speak up. Do NOT try to ‘power through’ this. Be smart.
For those of you out there who are bikram regulars, any additional tips for other Bikram newbies?