The Low Down on Hot Yoga from a Non- Yogi


This is an article by Alexis L. who works for Acacia. I think it is very infomative and you will enjoy it.

I’ve worked for Acacia for 4 years. I’ve been on DVD production shoots and done many Acacia programs personally. So yoga isn’t new to me. I’ve done it, yes, but am far from good at it nor am I a regular practitioner. Then I got a coupon for 5 sessions of “hot yoga” (official name: Bikram) near my apartment. The website was absolutely glowing with the benefits of this trendy—albeit intimidating—form of exercise: restored balance, detoxification, alleviated pain, increased strength and lung capacity, massaging of internal organs (um, ok?!), inner peace (sounds good!), weight loss (yes, please!), and on and on.  I wanted to share with you the low-down on Bikram from a total newbie.

At the core, Bikram yoga is a series of 26 poses performed over 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees. You heard right, 105 degrees. I’m not a fan of heat and humidity, at all. I’m never sad to see winter come. BUT I do love a good sweat when I’m working out. After 45 minutes in spin class if my face isn’t dripping onto the handlebars, I’ve done something wrong. And who can argue the benefits of yoga in general, right? So let’s do it, I say!

My experience so far has been pretty good—good enough that I will continue going but not so great that I am oblivious to the challenges people have in that 105 degree room. The warnings of nausea and light-headedness are no joke so if you are prone to those feelings, take extra care. If you feel “off” at any point in the class, take a knee and breathe it out. Don’t let your mind panic and take over. You can get through it! In my (yes, limited) experience, there is always someone in need of a break so don’t be worried about standing out in a room full of experts.

Next warning: you will be s w e a t y. But so is everyone else! You just have to resign yourself to the dripping and soaking. Some poses are easier than others, of course; there were only a couple that I could barely attempt. The best part though (at least in my studio) is that everyone is struggling with one pose or another. There’s so much wobbling and slipping in the room that I never felt like I didn’t belong. Beginners unite! The room does have a bit of funky smell when you arrive but you grow accustomed to and it’s not a bother (really!). The heat seeps into your muscles and you can get deeper into each stretch. After 90 minutes there is definitely a “body buzz” yoga high left behind. It’s like coming from a massage that expended 500+ calories! I fully recommend Bikram for the yoga fans out there and anyone, like me, who wants a good sweat…combined with a bit of inner peace.

My tips for a beginner:

1. Fill your water bottle with ice or freeze it for several hours before class. After 90 minutes, warm water isn’t all that satisfying!

2. There is no talking in the studio before, during, or after class. You will be shushed!

3. Bring very little (especially valuables) with you. You can’t take anything into the studio besides a yoga mat, (big) towel, and water bottle – but make sure you have those 3 necessities!

4. Toweling off during a pose is frowned upon since it can be distracting to those around you.

5. The teacher should prompt you for water breaks…and may reprimand you if you take one during a pose!

6. The instructor does not practice with the class. He/she stands at the front of the room giving oral instruction on poses. The instruction comes fast and furious so pick a neighbor who looks like they know what they’re doing…and soon, so will you!

7. Bikram asks that you focus on yourself in the mirror during class. This ensures you’re doing the poses correctly but also provides a stable focal point for balance and concentration. Depending on the studio, they may prefer first-timers be in the back row (so you can watch the people in front of you) but either way, make sure you have a clear-ish shot of yourself in the mirror.

8. It’s recommended that a beginner does his/her first 2 sessions on 2 consecutive days. It reduces soreness and helps you reap the most reward.

9. It’s definitely a challenge to hold onto your feet, elbows, or hands when you’re so sweaty and slippery, but there’s no shame in falling out of a pose and coming back into it!

10. If you want to enjoy the shavasana (meditation/quiet time) at the end of class, make sure you don’t sit by the door. If you do, there will be lots of feet trampling around your peaceful mind!

Have you tried Bikram? What did you think?


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