During the school year, I’d frequently drive by this little tan building. I’d always been curious about it, so when summer started I decided to give it a shot. I’ve never been very flexible or great with balance, and I’ve heard the hot room is supposed to be a great detox and help you stretch deeper than normal. I was a little nervous to do it, so I got a couple Kino graduates to sign up with me, and I took my first Bikram yoga class.
I watched the clock the entire time, counting down the sweat dripping seconds till the final breathing posture. I thought, What was I thinking!? I can’t wait till this hellish class is over. And then, like a Bikram miracle, I finished the class, walked into the air-conditioned lobby, and felt an amazing euphoria wash over me. I’ve gone almost everyday this week, and now I only occasionally glance at the clock. I’ve lost weight, gained balance and strength, and just generally feel better. I still fall over during every balance pose and can’t lock my knees when I touch down my head, but I’m making progress. One of the instructors said this, which I thought was a great quote:
“It’s not about the heat. It’s not about the poses. It’s about you.“
So, do something for you, and check out your local Bikram Yoga facility! If you’re thinking of trying it out, here’s what you should know.
Before You Go
- DRINK WATER. Start drinking water at least two hours before the class, and just drink as much as you can. You’ll be thankful you did.
- Eat something! But here’s the catch– you need to eat something at least two hours BEFORE the class. So no last-minute breakfasts! Nausea is a common side effect from the heat during your first few classes, and you don’t want to heave on their pretty white carpet.
- Get a good night’s rest. It makes all the difference! I notice a definite difference in my heat/exercise tolerance with just an hour less sleep.
- Contact your local Bikram yoga facility and ask about payment plans and when you need to get there if you’re a new student. Also, see if they have any specials for first-time students. The Bikram studio I go to (at Oracle and Orange Grove) offers an AWESOME first month deal– $30.00 for 30 days of unlimited yoga! But after that, it gets much more expensive. They seem to run a lot of sales and incentives though, so do some research!
What to Bring
- A towel! If you’ve read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ll know that you should never leave home without one, and this is no exception. Our room is carpeted, so there’s no need for a yoga mat, but if you don’t want to be laying down on a thoroughly sweated on rug, then don’t forget your towel. I also bring a hand towel to wipe my face off with as the class goes on. The instructors encourage you to not wipe your sweat, but salty water + contacts = not good. So I’ll occasionally wipe my eyes– it’s better than losing a contact mid-class!
- WATER. During the class, there are a few designated water breaks, but you honestly don’t want to drink much then– that’s why you should hydrate before hand. Drinking too much water during will just make you feel queasy. But there’s nothing like a big cold bottle of water when you’re done!
- Skimpy clothing. This was a tough one for me! I tend to be very self-conscious– I’ve only just started to wear tank tops and workout shirts to the gym! My first class, I wore Capri yoga pants and a tank top. Since then, my clothing has slowly dwindled as I’ve become more comfortable. Today, I just wore tiny booty shorts and a sports bra! The truth is, no one is looking at you or cares about what you’re wearing. But be careful that you wear underwear that don’t ride up if you’re rocking the booty shorts! Yes, I found that out today.
During the class
- IT WILL BE HOT. Really, really hot. I am not exaggerating. Be prepared.
- Consequently, YOU WILL SWEAT. And I don’t mean the, Man, that was a great workout! kind of sweat. I mean you will be literally DRIPPING with sweat. Just for fun, I weighed my well-hydrated self before the class and my sweat-soaked self after, and I lost 3lbs from sweat alone. Try it yourself! Still don’t believe me? Look:
- Be prepared for repetitions. Every Bikram yoga class is the same. 26 poses, each one done twice. Personally, I like the repetition– I don’t have to worry about learning a new pose every class, and I can just relax and get better at the ones I know.
- It’s 90 minutes long. If you’re used to 60 minute workout sessions, you’ll be in for a surprise– and hopefully an increase in stamina.
- Don’t push yourself too far! Don’t get me wrong– push yourself. But listen to your body! I’m pretty sure I pinched a nerve in one of the balance poses. Why? Because I looked around the room, saw everyone else doing it, and thought I should be able to do that too. That is a HUGE mistake. Everyone has different limits, and I need to stop comparing myself to the yoga guru that stands in front of me! Make self-progress, live up to your own standards, but don’t try to do something just because you think you should be able to or other people can.
- Most importantly, have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously during this class. Every so often, I’ll force myself to smile after my foot falls for the thousandth time out of the tree pose.
So, if you’ve been wondering about Bikram yoga and you don’t mind the heat, try it out– I’m already addicted!