If you are reading this, you have probably decided it’s time to take the plunge and give Bikram Yoga a try. You may be worried about whether or not you can do this. Let’s face it, watching some of the best yogis balancing their whole body weight on the tips
of their fingers while twisting the rest of their body into a pretzel can feel intimidating. You may have concern that you’ll pull a muscle, or worse, embarrass yourself in front of a room full of hot people (and here at YogaSol, that’s literally hot…as in temperature). But don’t worry! The benefits of yoga outweigh your concerns (check out this list from Men’s Health — it applies to women too).
Plus, we’re here to allay some of your fears by giving you some key Bikram Yoga tips for beginner.
Our beginner Bikram Yoga tips will
- help you get ready for your first yoga class,
- know what to expect when you get there, and
- help you understand what’s waiting for you afterward.
Every journey starts with a first step. We’re just excited you’re taking it!
Before the Class
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
How Long is the Class?
There are many types of yoga. You want to be prepared to stay for the entire class. Here at YogaSol, we practice Bikram Yoga and Hot HIIT Pilates. We offer two lengths of Bikram Yoga: the traditional 90-minute class and a 75-minute music class. If you are brand new to Bikram Yoga, start with the traditional 90-minute class.
What’s your preference?
Check out the Yogasol.com web site for important information like which classes are scheduled, when and what you can buy at the studio. The link to each of our classes has a description about the class itself, so you can choose which class you think might fit you best. In addition to classes, we offer mats, towels, Yogitoes, yogawear water, etc., at our studio. Once you’re in the YogaSol system, you can also buy classes for yourself online.
You don’t need to get fancy to practice yoga! You just want to make sure you can comfortably move and stretch in clothing that is breathable. Wearing loose fitting clothing might not be your best bet, as you’ll be bending and stretching. So, unless you want everyone to see what the stork saw, you’ll want some coverage that clings. In Bikram Yoga, many of the men prefer to practice without a shirt so they can sweat more freely.
Drink LOTS of water!
Practicing Bikram Yoga means that our classrooms are kept at a piping 103 – 108 degrees. Not all yoga is practiced in a heated environment. That being said, water is your friend no matter your practice. Staying hydrated is important for your muscles and connective tissues to perform well during any activity. Drink water before, during and after your yoga class.
Hold the food, please.
Yoga is twisting and bending and paying close attention to your body and breath. It’s difficult to keep your mind on what your body is telling you if your blood is rushing to your belly to process a meal you ate right before class. To get the most out of your class, we advise not eating in the 2 hours before we begin.
Your First Bikram Yoga Class
Start in the Back
There are many strategies for where new yogis should set up camp for their first class. Our Bikram Yoga tips include encouraging new students to practice in one of the back rows for the first few classes they take. This allows them to follow the lead of the more experienced students in the class. We also encourage you to venture to the front of the class as you become more comfortable with the heat and practice.
Mirrors Are Our Friends!
At YogaSol, three of the four walls of the studio are mirrors. It may feel strange to see yourself so closely in the mirror, especially when you move to the front rows. In Bikram Yoga, the mirror is your friend! When you see yourself up close in the mirrors while practicing, it helps your balance and also helps you pay attention to your body’s alignment during the poses.
Don’t Keep Your Instructor At Arms Length
Arrive a little early, and don’t be afraid to tell your instructor that this is your first Bikram Yoga class or that you are new to yoga. If they know you could be unfamiliar with concepts or directions, the instructor can explain more while instructing. Instructors also typically walk around and interact with the class to help adjust body alignment with verbal tips and sometimes hands-on adjustments during your practice. This is very helpful in making sure you get the most out of each position without hurting yourself.
A Note on Beginning
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! Yoga is a personal practice, and our bodies are all very different. As much as you might see and admire (okay, envy) some of the people who practice yoga on social media, many of these people are very advanced practitioners. Your practice is your practice.
Poses that look or feel impossible today could be your favorite next week. In Bikram Yoga, it’s said, “Your worst poses become your best poses and your best become your worst.” Where you put your attention and effort, dramatically changes our how wellyou practice individual poses. You’ll find your body can naturally get into some positions and others take a little longer. Just remember, we were all beginners at one time. Your only mission is to enjoy the journey.
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.” -Ijeoma Umebinyuo
The final pose in a yoga class – Savasana, or Corpse Pose – is a major release, so don’t leave early! You’ll miss the BEST part! Your body has just moved in lots of ways you never expected. You may feel a little looser, you may feel a bit calmer and you may be completely exhausted. It’s natural, and it’s wonderful.
After class and over the next few days, you could also experience a little soreness. This is also totally normal as your body is breaking down tissue and rebuilding muscle. At YogaSol, we encourage students to come back the very next day after they’ve taken their first class because the best way to deal with the soreness of your first class is to stretch in a heated room. Take some time to enjoy and celebrate the awakening you’ve given these sore muscles. Your body is thanking you!
We hope these Bikram Yoga tips for beginners help you feel confident about going to your first class! Going to a new fitness class can be intimidating — all that bending in front of people you don’t know (yeesh!) — but try not to think of it that way. You are starting a journey of learning more about how your body moves and how it feels when you move in different ways. As always, if you have any health conditions, it’s best to discuss any new health routines with your medical practitioner. Your goal is to move in a healthy direction for your body, mind and soul.