Bikram Yoga 101
While the decades-old philosophies of Bikram Yoga makes it by no means a new fitness, only recently has the practice become a well-known component to mainstream yoga, as more and more people are giving it a try.
Bikram Yoga can seem initially intimidating to some, but it has garnered a solid following of dedicated practitioners. I, myself, have a penchant for the practice, and strongly believe that for those wanting a chunk of time to meditate while mending the body and mind, Bikram can be a great vehicle to de-stress, get fit, and even heal medical ailments, all at the same time.
Every class is the same – 90-minutes long; 26 beginning, classic Hatha postures; and a 105-degree room, which facilitates deeper stretching and injury prevention. Poses within each series not only work out the muscles and the mind, but they also target joints and internal organs from the lungs and digestive system, to the lymphatic system and immune system.
While in class, everyone is asked to stay in the room, no matter how you are feeling. If you tire, or feel dizzy or nauseous (which is normal at first and on some off-days!), instructors encourage you to sit down until you feel grounded. Not only is this for safety reasons, it also helps to develop concentration, determination, and discipline.
The Nitty Gritty
Staying hydrated throughout the day, before and after practice, is important. It is advised to refrain from eating a meal at least 2-3 hours before class. Wear light and tight clothing as you will be sweating – women usually wear sports bras or tight tanks with tight shorts or leggings; men don shorts. Mat and towel rentals are available at most Bikram studios, as is water and coconut water for hydration.
First-timers: It is recommended to arrive 10-20 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Most Bikram studios offer introductory packages at discounted rates to encourage newbies to practice as many times as possible so they can gauge how it affects their minds, bodies, and spirits.
Anyone Can Do It!
Bikram was created by internationally renowned yoga master Bikram Choudhury, and the sequence of postures and breathing exercises is accessible to anyone, regardless of fitness level, flexibility, or yogic experience. In fact, they say that those who have injuries, haven’t been working out, or have other medical problems are the first to see the benefits.
Bikram is known for its healing benefits and for its ability to train and calm the mind (that’s what holding Tuladandasana, balancing stick pose, for 60 seconds while the sweat from the person in front of you drips just inches from your face will do!). The practice was developed to scientifically target every cell of the body, creating a revitalized, strong, lean, balanced, and healthier body – I love that instead of focusing on wanting a smaller waist, or more toned arms, Bikram works on the body as a whole, which in turn, gives you the body you were meant to have.
I was hooked after the first “Namaste.” The amazing clarity of mind, body, and soul after each class is something I had never experienced with anything else, and no matter how long you’ve been practicing or how well the class goes, the knowledge that you’re doing something good for yourself for 90 minutes out of the day is a reward in itself.